Of course law enforcement professionals receive training related to firearms, pursuit driving, physical combat, and apprehension and handcuffing techniques, but they must also be trained on their agency’s established command structure and procedures, as well as the unique penal codes and statutes within their jurisdiction. New law enforcement recruits are trained in everything from engagement techniques to the legal protocols of engagement. As a result, law enforcement training takes recruits from shooting ranges and driving tracks to classrooms and computer labs.
Basic academy training – Most states utilize a basic training curriculum for law enforcement recruits throughout the state. This allows all law enforcement professionals within a state to have a shared understanding of basic duties and powers. These basic programs provide a demanding physical training program as well as introductions to law enforcement procedures and protocols.
Specialized organizational training – Organizations with broader authority, like state police, may also institute a more advanced curriculum to be completed following the basic program. These courses may provide more specialized training unique to the agency, which may include criminal investigations.
Promotional training – The third type of training is for law enforcement professionals who have served for some time and demonstrated exceptional performance. These officers are usually selected for promotions to higher ranks or specialized units. Their new roles require them to perform unique duties that require additional training.
Law Enforcement Training at the City, County and State Levels
Local Police – Most local police organizations utilize the Basic Law Enforcement Training Programs available to all police within a state. Some of the larger local police forces in major metropolitan areas employ specially developed training programs that apply general law enforcement concepts to their specific jurisdiction. Learn more…
- Strayer University - Bachelors of Science Degree in Criminal Justice
- Rasmussen College - Law Enforcement Associate's Degree and Post-Degree Certificates; Criminal Justice Bachelor's Degrees
- Michigan State University - Online Master of Science in Law Enforcement Intelligence and Analysis
- Saint Joseph's University - Online Master of Science in Criminal Justice
- Utica College - Online Bachelor's of Science in Criminal Justice
County Sheriffs – The majority of sheriffs’ offices use the training programs available to local police. Some areas of the country support county police organizations that are large enough to necessitate dedicated sheriffs’ training facilities. Learn more…
State Police – State police typically undergo the longest and most rigorous training programs that may employ basic training programs to introduce recruits to fundamental skills, while also providing added instruction on tools and procedures unique to the agency. Most state police agencies have specialized units, such as bomb squad and SWAT teams that require additional training. Learn more…
Basic Law Enforcement Training
Firearms – In addition to exercises designed to enhance basic physiological standards, these training programs also typically include instruction in critical skills. Among the most important skills to be taught is the proper use of firearms. Many police organizations require that recruits possess the ability to rapidly fire and reload standard handguns and shotguns. Recruits are also expected to obtain proficiency in close physical combat through martial arts training.
Driving – Many basic training programs also include an enhanced driver training program which teaches officers to safely pursue a fleeing motorist or monitor and follow a suspect.
Procedures – The legal and procedural portion of the training program typically includes an introduction to the laws of the state and nation. While most training programs do not require comprehensive knowledge of the legal system, they do mandate understanding of the most basic legal rights and police procedures. With the ultimate purpose of any police action being the maintenance of peace and security, recruits are expected to obtain working knowledge of standard police processes including arrests, questioning, and traffic stops.
Tools – Training also usually involves some exposure to common tools utilized by police within the state like information systems, communications equipment and forensic materials.
Physical – The physical component of law enforcement training is primarily to instill basic skills necessary to serve as a law enforcement officer. These rigorous programs also train new recruits to maintain a high level of physical fitness throughout their careers. In order to develop the stamina and dexterity most police careers require, there is a very challenging physical regimen included in most training programs. This usually includes running several miles on a regular basis, weight training, and obstacle course running.
Following training at a police academy, recruits are usually required to complete a field-training program, which pairs them with serving police units. Field training usually requires several weeks and introduces recruits to the application of law enforcement procedures to actual situations.
Advanced Law Enforcement Training
Laws and Statutes – While basic training provides an introduction to general police knowledge, state and federal law enforcement agencies will also require more advanced legal training. These programs typically build on the knowledge and skills already acquired by recruits, but they may include unique information about statutes and penal codes. These organizations typically take on greater responsibilities that require officers to possess more detailed understanding of the legal code, administrative procedures, and governmental agencies.
Advancement – Many law enforcement officers receive additional training upon promotion to a higher rank or reassignment to an exclusive unit. Many larger metropolitan and state law enforcement agencies task personnel to specific types of crimes or operations. When a recruit is promoted to a detective, they assume responsibility for investigating criminal incidents, arresting perpetrators and seeking prosecution. These added functions and skills may be acquired through on-the-job training, but are often supplemented through independent learning or departmental instruction.
Specialty – Other career specializations require considerably more training. Service in counterterrorism, bomb disposal and hostage negotiations units require a unique set of skills and knowledge. Many of the training programs for these units are provided by federal agencies like the FBI, Secret Service or the military, and require enrollment at their dedicated training facilities. Needless to say, admission into many of these divisions requires exceptional talents and a demonstrated commitment to professional excellence. Some units are so demanding that a rigorous selection process is implemented to weed out all but the most outstanding candidates.