As a result of the overwhelming attention and scrutiny being paid to police officers, police departments are evolving their training programs and hiring practices to recruit and retain quality officers.
Police departments want to ensure that their officers are well-trained because this will increase officer safety and reduce liability. They also want to improve their community relations and foster trust in their communities by recruiting officers who reflect the diversity of those communities.
They are recruiting officers with strong interpersonal skills because they can better interact with people from different backgrounds and cultures, which is crucial in today’s diverse society.
The following sections provide insight into how police training has changed and why it is important for law enforcement agencies today.
An understanding of the major debates in contemporary criminology and criminal justice
Policing students are now trained to articulate major methodological, theoretical, and political debates in contemporary criminology and criminal justice — something that wasn’t emphasized in past decades. The goal is for them to understand how their jobs fit into this complex system, so they can be better prepared for whatever comes their way on the job.
While many aspects of policing have changed over time, this shift in focus may be one of the most significant changes in modern-day policing. Nowadays, students must understand how research methods influence how we study crime, how social factors determine crime rates, and how our ideas about crime shape policy decisions.
This approach aims to equip students with a more comprehensive understanding of the complex nature of crime in our society. With this knowledge, they will better understand their role as change agents within their community and their responsibility to reflect on their own biases when interacting with others.
Qualitative and quantitative research skills
Policing agencies collect enormous amounts of data daily — everything from calls for service received by 911 dispatchers to crime reports written by patrol officers. Police departments are also working with civilian agencies such as hospitals, government agencies, and businesses in their jurisdiction to collect even more data on crime incidents and trends in communities across the country.
Qualitative and quantitative research skills can help officers analyze this data and decide how best to use their resources.
Qualitative research skills enable police officers to analyze non-numerical data such as interviews and observations. This type of analysis helps them understand human behavior and culture. Quantitative research skills allow police officers to analyze large amounts of numerical data using statistics, probability, and other mathematical methods. This allows them to make decisions based on large amounts of information.
An emphasis on strong communication skills
Police departments nationwide are emphasizing the importance of strong communication skills. This includes listening skills, speaking clearly, recognizing non-verbal cues, and communicating effectively with people from different cultures and backgrounds. This is especially important because many interactions between police and civilians occur in stressful situations. Misunderstandings can easily arise due to miscommunication or misinterpretation of body language or tone of voice.
Communication skills are becoming increasingly important as police forces face mounting criticism over their use of force. Officers have often been trained to be aggressive rather than cooperative when dealing with citizens. However, research has shown that an officer who can effectively communicate with citizens will reduce unnecessary escalation and improve outcomes for both parties.
In response to this criticism, many police departments are now working to improve their officers’ communication skills by providing training on effectively interacting with people in different situations. This includes orienting officers on how to respond to criticism and feedback without becoming defensive or angry — two reactions that can lead to negative interactions between law enforcement and civilians.
Looking at contemporary law enforcement issues from a criminological or psychological perspective
In the 21st century, law enforcement officers are expected to be more than just armed officers who enforce the laws. They are also required to understand the legal system and how it works thoroughly.
A Bachelor of Arts in Policing program includes a broad range of topics. The curriculum emphasizes the application of criminological and psychological theories and perspectives to contemporary law enforcement issues.
The training provided by a bachelor’s degree police officer is designed to help them interpret and critique contemporary law enforcement issues from a criminological or psychological perspective. This can be very helpful in dealing with such current issues as:
- How police officers should respond when they encounter people who are under the influence of drugs or alcohol
- The role body cameras play in improving public safety and accountability
- How to deal with individuals who are suffering from mental illness
- Why some people become involved in gang activity
A deeper understanding of Indigenous justice systems
In Canada, the justice system is based on English common law and is guided by the Constitution Act of 1867. However, it is important to note that indigenous peoples also have legal systems.
The role of police officers in First Nations communities is different from that in non-indigenous communities.
Police officers must understand that they are peacekeepers, not warriors or enforcers of laws. Officers should be trained to consider indigenous justice systems’ complexity and how they may differ from their own. Officers must also understand indigenous people’s traditional teachings and values and how they relate to police work.
One important aspect of this training involves learning about Aboriginal court systems and how they operate differently than mainstream courts. For example:
The role of elders
Elders are seen as leaders who provide guidance and advice during court proceedings; their role is more than just ceremonial. Elders may also act as witnesses, provide reasons for a ruling, or explain why certain actions were taken.
Aboriginal laws vary across the country and within jurisdictions. Sometimes, there are no written laws but rather a set of unwritten rules passed down from generation to generation. Those who break these rules may be punished in various ways ranging from fines to being ostracized from the community. In other areas, written laws govern what happens when someone breaks a rule or commits an offense.
Leadership skills are an essential part of police training
Leadership skills are an essential part of police training. Police officers are often faced with difficult decisions and situations where they must make quick decisions that can have a major impact on their lives as well as the lives of others. The ability to inspire confidence, trust, and respect is needed if an officer is going to be successful in their job.
In many cases, officers are required to take classes in leadership development during their training programs. These classes can help them learn how to lead people and motivate them to do their best work. They also teach them how to deal with difficult situations and stay calm under pressure when dealing with upset members of the public or even criminals who may try to intimidate them into doing things they do not want to do.
Leadership skills are also important in communicating with fellow officers and working together as a team. If an officer has good leadership skills, they will be able to get along well with other people and inspire them to work together toward common goals.
Police officers also need leadership training to conduct performance assessments, evaluate how well other people are doing their jobs, and make necessary recommendations for improvement.
A better understanding of the effects of trauma and critical incidents
Police officers encounter all kinds of traumatic events every day — from domestic violence calls to deadly car crashes to hostage situations — but until recently, there wasn’t much research on how trauma affects us all. High-risk events can be stressful for anyone but pose an even greater challenge for law enforcement professionals who may be required to use deadly force if necessary.
We now know that stress hormones like cortisol can cause physical effects like depression, anxiety, or even heart disease if stress is not managed properly over time, especially after repeated exposure.
As a result, many online universities now offer psychological training designed to help officers develop resilience and avoid burnout.
This is important because PTSD is extremely common among police officers. One study found that almost 30% of police officers have PTSD or major depression. And those statistics are just for the ones who seek help — many more don’t seek help for their problems.
Social media training
Social media has become an integral part of our daily lives. From posting pictures to sharing ideas, we rely on it for everything from entertainment to communication. But social media is also being used by law enforcement officers to catch criminals and keep the public safe.
The role of social media in law enforcement has changed drastically over the years. It started with police officers using Facebook and Twitter to connect with the community and share important information. Now, they use it to track down suspects, find missing persons and gather evidence for investigations.
In recent years, police officers have become much more aware of their duty to use social media appropriately and professionally. Training ensures that police officers use social media per their agency’s mission statement and its stated goals and objectives. It also ensures they do not violate privacy laws or civil rights by using this medium inappropriately.
Officers also learn how to respond when someone posts something negative about them or their department on social media.
More emphasis on de-escalation tactics
Police officers are trained to use deadly force as a last resort and only when necessary. This means that they are supposed to use as little force as possible before using deadly force. The idea is to avoid situations where someone dies or is seriously injured because of a police officer’s actions.
In recent years, there have been many cases where video footage has shown police officers shooting people who did not have guns or other weapons in their hands. This has caused many people to question whether these shootings were justified or could have been avoided through better training in de-escalation tactics.
Some experts believe officers should be trained in de-escalation tactics to avoid lethal force when possible and only use it when necessary. Online training programs also teach people how to deal with confrontations with police officers without involving violence or aggression.
Focus on proper police conduct
The laws and policies governing police conduct are constantly changing, so officers must stay updated on new regulations. Here are some changes that have occurred in recent years:
Ethics training is an important part of any officer’s education because it helps them understand their role as a member of society and how they can appropriately interact with people. Law enforcement officers are expected to act with integrity at all times, especially when dealing with members of the public who often have little knowledge about how their rights are protected by law enforcement.
Corruption within law enforcement agencies is not uncommon, but it is also not tolerated by authorities. Officers who engage in corrupt practices face serious consequences if they are caught, including loss of employment or even criminal charges against them. Police corruption can include bribes from criminals to plant evidence or to falsify reports to make an arrest appear justified. Training programs cover how officers can avoid these situations while teaching them to identify corruption when encountering it, so they know how best to deal with it if necessary.
Police accountability is a major focus of today’s police training programs because the public must trust their local law enforcement agency. Therefore, officers must be trained to be accountable for their actions on and off duty to avoid any possible conflicts of interest or favoritism towards certain individuals or groups. Accountability training covers everything from ethics and professionalism to conflict resolution and mediation techniques so that officers know how best to handle potentially problematic situations before they result in lawsuits or other legal action being taken against them or their department.
Police departments across the country are changing their training policies to reflect the realities of modern policing. Police are learning how to better interact with members of minority groups and those experiencing mental health crises.
Training programs focus on finding common ground between officers and the people they interact with, especially those who might not trust law enforcement due to historical racial tensions or personal experiences with violence or trauma. It is recognized that police can never be truly prepared for every situation. Instead, they must focus on de-escalation and avoiding using force when possible.
The goal is to build relationships so that people feel comfortable coming forward when they need help from the police — whether reporting a crime or asking for help.