An overwhelming majority of California peace officers say their training is superior to that of other states, but a strong majority also say California should monitor training results, incorporate research, and adjust programs accordingly, according to the Little Hoover Commission in its latest Summary of the problem.
In the Short, its most recent resource for state policymakers that describes ongoing research without making policy recommendations, the Commission presents the results of its survey of active duty police officers in California on the training they receive. The survey, which took place in May 2021, is part of the Commission study examining the role of the Commission on Standards and Training of Peace Officers (POST) in developing training standards for the California law enforcement community.
“The results of our survey provide invaluable insight into what members of the California law enforcement community perceive to be the strengths and weaknesses of their training,” said Commission Chairman Pedro Nava, who serves also to the study subcommittee.
In the Summary of the problem, the Commission details the responses to the survey of officers, many of whom affirmed the value of the training they receive:
- Overall, training in California is viewed as superior to training in other states. Over 80% of officers said the training they received was better than that given to their peers in different parts of the country.
- Officers overwhelmingly agreed that all forms of training – basic, on the job, on the job – are relevant to the work they do, but officers are divided over whether this formal training is more important than the informal on-the-job advice they receive from their colleagues.
- More than 80 percent said stress-based academies provide essential training for law enforcement, and 76 percent agreed California should continue to use them. Sixty-four percent of officers said that non-stress-focused academies are not as effective as stress-focused ones in preparing officers for the reality of policing.
Throughout the investigation, officers also identified pressing challenges that could be addressed to improve the training they receive:
- More than half of the officers said that some topics are not sufficiently covered by the existing training program. Mental health, de-escalation, legal processes and procedures, use of force and officer well-being were identified as areas where training is lacking.
- Various obstacles prevent officers from receiving additional training. Finding staff to fill positions while officers receive training is often a barrier for 52% of respondents, while funding is a barrier for almost half.
- Nearly 70 percent of officers said more consistency in training is needed across California’s 692 law enforcement departments and 41 basic training academies.
- Monitoring of training results and their effectiveness is lacking. Over 80% of agents agreed that POST should monitor training results and adjust its standards and programs accordingly, while nearly 70% said POST should incorporate research on training effectiveness into its standards. training.
“Officers have made it clear that while the training in California is excellent, there are areas for improvement that need to be addressed,” said Commissioner Janna Sidley, a member of the Enforcement Review Subcommittee. Commission law. “We hope this briefing note will help heads of state consider ways to improve police training in California. ”
Further research from the Law Enforcement Training Commission, including a report with policy recommendations to the governor and the legislature, will be released later this fall.
About the Little Hoover Commission
The Little Hoover Commission is the only permanent, independent citizens’ commission in the United States that works to improve state government. A non-partisan monitoring agency created in 1962, the Commission comprises 13 commissioners appointed by the governor and legislative leaders. The mission of the Commission is to investigate the operations of the State and to promote efficiency, economy and improvement of the service.