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:
- Never say that it’s quiet, or you’re bored, or you want to leave early.
- Don’t mention that it’s a full moon tonight.
- Sitting in the same chair in the patrol briefing room.
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/