The Madison Police Department's 23 newest recruit officers will be hitting the streets in early March. These women and men have completed close to 900 hours of training, conducted over the last five months, prior to field training (the State of Wisconsin Law Enforcement Standards Board requires 720 hours of training). Thus, one can readily discern that the MPD Pre-Service Academy meets and exceeds a multi-pronged curriculum that is sensitive to fulfilling not only the State's requirements but also embraces community needs and priorities.
Our recruit officers get comprehensive training in a myriad of topics including: professional communication skills, crisis management, understanding and meeting the needs of those experiencing a mental illness crisis, legal procedures and constitutional law, ethics, cultural competency, community policing, problem solving, as well as those skills needed to be proficient in patrol services.
All of the instructional blocks incorporate the MPD mission statement which is "We, the members of the Madison Police Department, are committed to providing high quality police services that are accessible to all members of the community. We believe in the dignity of all people and respect individual and constitutional rights in fulfilling this mission." Our seven core values, which are also woven throughout the entire Academy, include: human dignity, service, community partnership, integrity, proficiency and continuous improvement, diversity, and leadership. It is important to note that these themes do not graduate at the Academy doors when the training is over. These principles or precepts of engagement are revisited and reinforced throughout an officer's career.
The lessons learned from the Academy are now translated through the field training instruction provided on the streets in Madison. The recruits will take the mentoring of a veteran police officer and learn additional pragmatic skill sets on calls with real implications.
Field Training is 13 additional weeks of one-to-one coaching which consists of five separate and distinct phases. Each phase requires greater participation on the part of the recruit as they progress to be a fully autonomous officer. The role of the Field Training Officer (FTO) is critically important in mentoring as well as guiding officers through a range of calls that can be as benign as a civil dispute to something as compelling as a death investigation. We want our recruit officers to be fully prepared and proficient in meeting the needs of our community. That is why such a great emphasis is placed on both the Pre-Service Academy as well as the FTO experience before allowing officers the privilege to be a solo practitioner in providing service to our constituents. As our recruit officers demonstrate proficiencies, they will then move on to the next phase of field training. By the end of field training, each officer will be prepared to ride a patrol beat solo without the assistance of an FTO riding with them.
Because of field training, residents may see an increased number of officers responding to calls for service. This is due to the fact that many squad cars will now be staffed with two officers - one recruit and one FTO. Additional officers may respond to routine calls for service for additional experience opportunities and training repetitions. The official graduation date for our recruits is July 8, 2016. After graduation they will be assigned to specific beats within their districts, predominately PM and overnight hours.
Field Training will not be our recruits' first exposure to the public. Throughout the Academy the recruits have met with and been trained by individuals from various community partners and subject matter experts in a variety of fields. In addition, the MPD Pre-Service Academy went out "on the road" and held classes at various sites throughout the City to include: Journey Mental Health Center, Centro Hispano, Allied Drive Boys and Girls Club, and a visit to the Warner Park Community Center to meet with representatives from the Hmong Community. We are excited for our new officers to begin their service in the community and with our constituents.
The Madison Police Department is continuously recruiting future officers who reflect the diversity of our community. We are seeking mature applicants who can communicate effectively, both verbally and in writing and can enforce the law while protecting the constitutional rights of all.
If this sounds like you, or someone you know, we are currently accepting applications for the class of 2017. For additional information, please view our website: www.cityofmadison.com/police/jointeam
This blog was authored by Captain Thomas Snyder.