In the world of law enforcement, we have our superstitions and sayings. These are the things that FTO’s pass along to their recruits early in the field training program. Some of them include:
Another piece of essential knowledge that we pass along has to do with report writing. We will tell new officers that “if it isn’t written down, it didn’t happen.” But here’s the rub: that doesn’t just pertain to reports. Training records must also be well documented. If training isn’t appropriately recorded, it can open up your agency – and the individual officers – to varying levels of liability.
Recently, a case involving an agency in New York, involved training officers submitting false training records (News10, 2022). This has led to criminal charges against them and questioning how much training the recruits actually received under their supervision.
Whenever an agency has training (no matter how short the session is), there should be a record of it occurring. All training sessions should include the topic of what was trained, the amount of training time, any handouts given to attendees, a copy of all training material and a sign-in sheet.
If an agency or officer ever ends up having to testify in court, many times the training records will be requested by the attorneys or judge. Without the training records, it will be hard to argue what training the officer received, and when they did it.
Outside of court, most agencies are required to show that their officers have received a certain amount of training each year. Many states require that agencies submit proof that officers have received this training, or the officers may face losing their certification.
Another reason to keep diligent training records is to protect Field Training Officers (FTO’s) and the agency. If a probationary officer/recruit ends up being cut from the program, many times the training and re-training records of the officer are requested in termination hearings. Showing that an agency did all it could to help the recruit succeed can be easily resolved with accurate training records.
For agencies that use VirTra training simulators, your training officers can save training sessions directly through our software. If your system is equipped with a TMaR, you can also save the videos of your officers going through the training. These training records can be the difference between a successful prosecution of a defendant or losing a case. The records may also protect an individual officer or agency from significant litigation and liability.
Whatever system you use, make sure your records are up to date and accurate.
News10. (2022, March 25). Fort Edward police chief, sergeant face felony charges. Retrieved from News10.com: https://www.news10.com/news/crime/fort-edward-police-chief-sergeant-face-felony-charges/
Every day in a police officer’s life brings uncertainty. Because of this, agencies have an obligation and duty to train their officers as best as they can for events that may or may not occur in the future. Failing to provide this training can result in officers making poor decisions at the wrong times, and inevitably, this leads to lawsuits. Here are some ways in which proper use of force simulator training can reduce lawsuit risks.
Unfortunately, many police agencies use training as a means to avoid or respond to liability and lawsuits. For example, only after someone injured by an officer files suit will some agencies truly invest in their officers’ training. Judgmental use of force simulator training is different in that it should be used proactively. Instead of using it to react to an existing lawsuit or incident, it is used to prevent those lawsuits and incidents in the first place.
There are two ways in which someone can establish a case against an officer or department with the claim that the officer involved in an incident was not properly trained. First, if it can be proven that an officer lacked training in a particular area, there is basis for a lawsuit. Simply put, if an officer uses deadly force, but it can be proven that the officer did not have the right firearms or deadly force training, then a lawsuit has credibility and merit.
The second means of establishing a “failure to train” lawsuit involves pointing out consistent areas where more than one officer is poorly trained. As an example, if several officers on a particular police force are not trained to handle hostage situations, and this leads to a poorly-handled situation later down the line, a lawsuit is very likely. This would indicate that the police department is not properly training its officers to handle situations that may arise.
Judgmental use of force simulator training is one of the best ways to avoid not only “failure to train” lawsuits, but lawsuits of any kind. Today’s simulators are incredibly high-tech and submerse the officer into a virtual world where he or she will be required to make life-or-death decisions on the spot, much like out in the real world. They incorporate everything from realistic firearms training to practicing hundreds of configurable scenario content from our extensive library and customizable scenarios that officers may encounter on the job. This provides the necessary experience and expertise, allowing these officers to make better decisions when someone’s life may truly be on the line.
Many of the lawsuits brought against police officers and their departments are credible. Sometimes, it is because the officer made a poor spur-of-the-moment decision, and other times, it is because the officer was not properly trained from the start. In either case, judgmental use of force training simulators can reduce the risk of lawsuits and save lives.