Police work is no longer only about catching bad guys. According to the Commission on Accreditation for Law Enforcement Agencies, police are expected to be more proactive and strive to prevent crime while building relationships within the community. To that end, police training involves more than knowing how to frisk a suspect and shoot a gun -- it’s about listening to people and watching for patterns.
Proactive, Not Reactive
Theories behind modern police practices call for cops to take a proactive stance against crime rather than just reacting to situations and wrongdoers. They’re trained to watch for patterns in the community that could lead to crime, such as changing demographics in an area or gangs gathering on street corners. Police are often given a set of guidelines on which they can base their findings each day to gauge imminent threats.
Problem-Solving Vs. Cleanup
Police training in the 21st century includes problem-solving. Police are trained to use critical-thinking skills to come up with solutions to neighborhood problems. Rather than just cleaning up after the criminals, police practices now include finding ways and means to circumvent the crimes before they get out of hand. Since they witness the community issues up close, police officers are urged to get creative and come up with solutions that could benefit the communities they serve.
Integrate Ethics in Training
Police officers take an oath to uphold the constitution of the United States and, as such, receive training that includes those citizen rights. According to the Forum on Public Policy at Kent State University, police should incorporate five moral standards that are tantamount to upholding those rights in their work. They need to provide fair access to protection to all citizens and accomplish their tasks with as little harm to citizens as possible. They need to refrain from excessive enforcement, keep an objective outlook toward their constituencies and work as part of a team within the criminal justice system.
Leadership Attitudes and Technical Abilities
Police department leadership also must be trained in effective problem-solving techniques, according to the Police Executive Research Forum. Rather than just focusing on assessing the technical abilities of their police officers, leaders are being trained to be more responsive to the emotional and lifestyle needs of their officers and encouraged to employ critical-thinking skills themselves when it comes to creating a positive environment in which they all work. Career planning, media relations, diversity, organizational development and innovative problem-solving are common topics covered in police leadership training.
- Police Executive Research Forum: Senior Management Institute for Police
- Commission on Accreditation for Law Enforcement Agencies: A New Strategy for Training Police Officers
- John Jay College of Criminal Justice: Institutional Theory and Justice
- Forum on Public Policy at Kent State University: Improving American Police Ethics Training
Linda Ray is an award-winning journalist with more than 20 years reporting experience. She's covered business for newspapers and magazines, including the "Greenville News," "Success Magazine" and "American City Business Journals." Ray holds a journalism degree and teaches writing, career development and an FDIC course called "Money Smart."