Op/Ed: Police Training in America, An Overview Of Components


Police Training in America, An Overview Of Components. The following article has been written by Leonard Adam Sipes, Jr. It includes editorial content which is the opinion of the writer.


A total of 664 state and local law enforcement academies provided basic training to entry-level officer recruits in the United States.

Nearly half (46%) of training academies that provided basic training for new recruits were based at an educational institution.

Leonard Adam Sipes, Jr.

Retired federal senior spokesperson. Thirty-five years of directing award-winning public relations for national and state criminal justice agencies. Interviewed multiple times by every national news outlet. Former Senior Specialist for Crime Prevention for the Department of Justice’s clearinghouse. Former Director of Information Services, National Crime Prevention Council. Former Adjunct Associate Professor of criminology and public affairs-University of Maryland, University College. Former advisor to presidential and gubernatorial campaigns. Former advisor to the “McGruff-Take a Bite Out of Crime” national media campaign. Certificate of Advanced Study-Johns Hopkins University. Former police officer. Aspiring drummer.

Author of ”Success With The Media: Everything You Need To Survive Reporters and Your Organization” available at Amazon and additional booksellers.

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This article responds to a reader’s inquiry about the characteristics of basic training for law enforcement officers.

What’s below summarizes police training in the United States. It was released in July 2021 using 2013 data by the Bureau of Justice Statistics of the US Department of Justice.

To my knowledge, it’s the latest (and probably the best) summation of basic training for police officers in the United States. There’s much more in the full report, see the link at the bottom of the article.

Characteristics Of Police Training
A total of 664 state and local law enforcement academies provided basic training to entry-level officer recruits in the United States.

During this period, more than 135,000 recruits (45,000 per year) entered a basic training program, and 86% completed the program successfully. This completion rate was the same as was observed for the 57,000 recruits who entered training programs in 2005.

Basic Training Models
The programs used training models that ranged on a continuum from completely stress-based to completely non-stress. Stress-based training was similar to military training, and it usually involved intense physical demands and psychological pressure.

The non-stress model emphasized academics in addition to physical training and had a more relaxed, supportive relationship between instructors and trainees.

About half (48%) of recruits were trained by academies using a training model that was more stress than non-stress oriented in its approach.

About a fifth (18%) of recruits were trained by academies that maintained more of a non-stress environment. A third of recruits (33%) were trained in academies that balanced the two approaches.

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 About The Academies
Nearly half (46%) of training academies that provided basic training for new recruits were based at an educational institution.

This included 33% at 2-year colleges, 6% at 4-year colleges or universities, and 6% at technical schools.

Academies were also operated by municipal police departments (20%), sheriffs’ offices (10%), state police or highway patrol agencies (6%), and State Peace Officer Standards and Training (POST) agencies (5%).

Excluding field training, the length of a basic law enforcement training program was about 841 hours, or 21 weeks.

Academies operated by agencies with special jurisdictions, such as parks or transportation systems, had the longest programs (averaging 1,075 hours), followed by county police academies (1,029 hours).

Academies operated by state POST agencies (650 hours), technical schools (703 hours), and sheriffs’ offices (706 hours) had the shortest training programs, on average.

 Types Of Training
Academies required recruits to spend the most training time (more than 225 hours) on operations.

The topics covered included patrol procedures (58 hours), investigations (47 hours), emergency vehicle operations (38 hours), and report writing (24 hours).

Recruits were required to spend an average of 165 hours of training on firearms, defensive tactics, and the use of force.

Nearly all (99%) recruits received reality-based use-of-force training, and 75% of recruits received this type of training on the use of non-lethal weapons.

Additionally, about 9 in 10 recruits received training on firearm use at night, in reduced light, or under simulated stressful conditions.

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Community Policing
97% of academies provided training in this area, up from the 92% in 2006.

Recruits were required to complete an average of more than 40 hours of this training.

Additionally, a majority of recruits were trained on how to identify community problems (77%), the history of community-oriented policing (75%), interacting with youth (62%), using problem-solving models (61%), determining the environmental causes of crime (57%), and prioritizing crime and disorder problems (51%).

More than 9 in 10 training programs addressed social issues, such as domestic violence (an average of 14 hours per recruit) and mental illness (10 hours).

Bureau Of Justice Statistics

See More

See more articles on crime and justice at Crime in America.

Most Dangerous Cities/States/Countries at Most Dangerous Cities.

US Crime Rates at Nationwide Crime Rates.

National Offender Recidivism Rates at Offender Recidivism.

The Crime in America.Net RSS feed (https://crimeinamerica.net/?feed=rss2) provides subscribers with a means to stay informed about the latest news, publications, and other announcements from the site.

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