Recently, the Lodi Police Department hired two officers who have previous experience with the Sacramento County Sheriff's Department.
Any person hired as a peace officer with Lodi PD must complete a minimum of four months of an in-depth, stressful training routine before they are allowed to work as a solo officer. This training regimen includes constant supervision and critique of their performance during every call for service or officer initiated event.
At the end of each day, new officers are provided with a written evaluation of the day's events and suggestions for improving their performance.
At the end of each month they are then provided with another evaluation detailing their performance for the entire month! This comprehensive evaluation outlines the training officers observations of what was done right, what could be done better, additional training that was provided to the officer for improvement, and then what improvement has been made over the course of the month. They go through this process four times during the training program.
The daily evaluation form is completed by the assigned field training officer, and includes 26 different areas of critical performance that a new officer is subjected to for evaluation every day that the officer is in the training program.
These daily evaluations include everything from talking on the radio and contact with citizens and suspects to how the officer conducted investigations during their shift. Even tasks as routine as operating the police vehicle are critiqued and evaluated. This would be like taking your driving test at DMV every day for 16 weeks! New officers often feel that they are under a microscope for 10 hours a day.
Their appearance, demeanor, attitude toward the job, being able to handle stressful conditions and their ability to make correct decisions are all subjected to this scrutiny. While our training officers understand that no one is perfect, the new officer at times feels that nothing can go right.
Lodi Police Department stresses Community Oriented Policing and expects its officers to take responsibility for identifying and correcting issues in the community. Because of this all officers in the training program are required to complete at least one COP/POP project. This ensures that all officers not only understand the COP/POP philosophy, but that they can also apply it to field situations.
The field training program is designed to assist the officer in becoming a full-time, permanent member of the department. Sometimes an officer begins to have trouble with a particular area of performance; the field training officers will design a remedial training plan to help the officer overcome this obstacle. Many times this solves the problem, but occasionally the officer continues to struggle.
If performance does not improve or further declines, then the trainee officer is subjected to a "not responding to training" rating in their evaluation. If performance does not improve, the officer may be given the option of resigning his position with the department. Many officers take this option when it gets to this point.
Officer Mike Mantzouranis and Officer Kevin Brown come to our department with basic police training and experience from their former sheriff's department. However, they must still successfully complete the field training program at Lodi PD before they can work as a solo beat officer.
Our field training officers will ensure that they have the qualities and abilities that are needed to perform the job here at Lodi PD, and that they understand Lodi Police Department's philosophy of community service. By no means are they walked through the training program because they have prior experience in law enforcement. Just like every officer before, lateral or entry level, they must prove themselves in the field. Doing so gives them the privilege of calling themselves a Lodi Police Officer.
The field training program at Lodi PD is just one more step in the process that all new officers must go through to make sure that we have attracted, hired and retained the most qualified individuals for the city of Lodi.
Steve Price is a lieutenant with the Lodi Police Department.
Any comments, questions or advice for Behind the Badge can be e-mailed to Jeanie Biskup at firstname.lastname@example.org; mailed to Lodi Police Department, 215 W. Elm St., Lodi, CA 95240; or asked by phone at 333-6864.