Friday, August 24, 2012

How Many Officers Does it Take?

If your child is playing with the phone and accidentally dials 911, you may soon have four police officers standing at your doorstep. This might cause some to feel alarmed when they look out and see so much blue, but sometimes things are not always as they seem. With the addition of new police officers comes a training period. What used to be two officers responding to your home may now be two officers in training, followed by the two Field Training Officers.

When an officer graduates from the police academy they are not finished with their training…the real training has just begun. After reviewing city and department policies, and participating in defensive tactics training and firearms training, comes the field training. Each officer is subject to four phases of field training.

The first phase is four weeks in length with one Field Training Officer, or FTO. At the completion of this phase, the FTO will meet with the second phase FTO and discuss the trainee’s accomplishments, strengths, and weaknesses. The second and third phase are the same process and each last three weeks.

When the officer has made it past the third phase of training they go back to their first phase FTO for two weeks. During this fourth phase the FTO is only observing and the officer is to act is if they are a solo officer, asking questions of other officers and supervisors rather than their FTO.

After all four phases of the Field Training Program are successfully completed the officer can now be considered a solo officer and is then assigned a position in the Patrol Division.

The Overland Park Police Department currently has 15 FTO’s in the Patrol Division. They were selected from the Patrol Division based on their experience and ability to train and supervise a new officer. FTO’s teach a myriad of skills including how to drive in emergency situations, how to complete necessary paperwork, how to navigate the city, how to deal with problems that may arise, the proper procedures required on a day to day basis, and how to adjust to this life changing career.

Next time you see four officers approaching, you will know you are watching the beginning of something great…