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1/25/2018 7:38:29 AM
Posted: 2/1/2006 1:28:06 PM EST
I work for a small department and they recently decided I get to be the FTO for the new hire. However I am not going to go to FTO school because they do not have time to send me. My department does have a short procedure book for the FTO process but I was wondering if anyone here had any pointers? I think most of it is pretty basic but like anything I want to do my best and I am always open to ideas. Thanks
Link Posted: 2/1/2006 2:06:02 PM EST
I'm sure the folks here will chime in with many pointers over the next few days. Evaluate all of them carefully before you decide to use them.

My pointer...don't be a dick. It's OK to be tough on your recruit, but remember that he's new and he's learning. Let him make mistakes (as long as he's not endangering anyone), but make sure he knows that a mistake was made. And above all, make sure that he learns from his mistakes. All of the greatest lessons I learned in this job were from my own screw ups.

And have fun. Being an FTO can be very rewarding if you're cut out for it. Good luck and check back with some progress reports, let us know how it's going.
Link Posted: 2/1/2006 2:22:43 PM EST
[Last Edit: 2/1/2006 2:27:37 PM EST by npd233]

Originally Posted By Docsprague:
I work for a small department and they recently decided I get to be the FTO for the new hire. However I am not going to go to FTO school because they do not have time to send me. My department does have a short procedure book for the FTO process but I was wondering if anyone here had any pointers? I think most of it is pretty basic but like anything I want to do my best and I am always open to ideas. Thanks

Have them put that in writing as a permanent record. Last thing you need is being named in a lawsuit for a recruit who feels he is wrongly discharged for failure to learn the job. The dept. acknowledging that they denied you the correct training to do the job should be enough to keep you off the hook if that happens.

That being said, make sure everything is documented on paper - good and bad, and if bad, what training you did to correct the problem. Have the recruit sign off on these.

Realize that adults have different styles of learning than children, and you are the one who has to adapt, not the recruit. Don't slack off on calling him out for basic or serious officer safety errors, but do it in private, not public unless it's an immediate risk to someone.

Don't socialize with him off duty, and recommend he doesn't do so w/ other officers on the dept, until he passes the FTO program.

Be sure he understands that his acceptable performance is the only thing that will get him through the FTO process. It is not just a "phase" he's got to get through in order to work alone. It is his chance to prove to the department that he has the ability and knowlege to do the job. It is recommended he put forth all his effort on/off duty to focusing on passing the FTO program. The time invested over those weeks will pay off in the future. There is a limited amount of time during which he will need to learn and understand a lot of information. Homework is a must for anyone expecting to excel.
Link Posted: 2/1/2006 3:12:20 PM EST
Great pointers on the previous posts! After the first phase, starting using role playing techniques. I use this with my recruits when I'm training. Have the trainee teach you about the job, by this you can evaluate the knowledge your trainee has gained so far. For example, policies and procedures and geography of the town works well with role playing.

Also, the first day I sit the trainee down and tell him/her that FTO is a learning process. They learn from me and I'm also here to learn from them. I make it clear that after the program, if they think they know everything about the job then that's when they need to quit. This job is a day to day learning process.

Anyway, good luck!!
Link Posted: 2/1/2006 3:59:31 PM EST
[Last Edit: 2/1/2006 4:04:14 PM EST by Bucky145]
I always sit the new person down and explain what an FTO is. I usually tell them I am not there to be their friend or drinking buddy. They usually try to by lunch or something which I always refuse. I never take advantage of being a trainer. It is easier to be more friendly later in the program then to be too friendly up front. I tell them I will treat them like an adult but I expect them to be responsible for what they do (no bullshit excuses). I tell them that I will fail them if they are not up to being an officer, but if they do fail it is because I did not teach them well enough.

I also let them do all the driving unless they start testing me as to my status as a training officer. Nothing says I'm the boss like sitting in the passanger seat for a shift and getting dinged on the DOR. Only had this one time and it was a great indicator that the guy did not understand a paramilitary rank structure. I'v never failed anyone, but I did have one quit when I told him I was recommending an additional two weeks before letting him out on his own. Lately I have also started telling the new guys that if they are there to be a lazy slug, or a JBT that they will not make it past me. So far everyone I have trained is average or above average.

Strange crap from other FTOs;

Having new guy carry FTO's bag to and from the car.
Having new guy do all the paperwork asking other officers questions while FTO was watching TV.
Having new guy buy beer for the regular drunk LEOs at local bar.
Calling new guy names like rookie, new guy, and pointing out failures in roll call.
Telling new guy to buy lunch for the shift or FTO.
Treating them like slaves, or hazing them.

Oh, and buckle up good because it's scary as hell in the passanger seat sometimes.

Edit: Great advice in the above posts.

Link Posted: 2/1/2006 7:33:22 PM EST
Let him/her do everything; drive the squad,do all the reports,write all the tickets,put the cuffs on(man I was nervous the first time I did that for real). Encouragement was the best way I have found to teach a new recruit when I was an FTO. I had two exceptions, I handled the domestic calls and no hunting dope dealers until they were off the third cycle of training, it's just too easy to get a recruit in deep trouble or fired because of a complaint and they just don't need that. But whatever you do, SHOW THEM THE REAL THING, no kid gloves.
Link Posted: 2/1/2006 9:36:30 PM EST
Make sure to volunteer your guy to get as many calls for other officers as possible.

This helps him learn quicker and better, and helps out you beat partners at the same time.
Link Posted: 2/2/2006 7:50:03 AM EST
[Last Edit: 2/2/2006 7:51:40 AM EST by dfergusonp12]
I'm with a small department and we usually let the FTO take just about every call. If the calls back up the other officers on duty will help. The idea is they get as much experience as possiable. We also don't let them stand back to let others take controll or try to pass the call off. Firm but fair.

We also use scenarios with Simunitions. Very interesting to see how people react to different incidents. We have a SGT. that loves scenarios and will have the trainee go through a high stress call like a Use of Force (scenario ends with an attempted arrest and suspect resists, FIGHT ON). Then he will hit the trainee up with another case, field interview, nothing special. Just to see if they can turn off the excitment and treat a regular joe with manners.

Sometimes you do have to be strict. I was trying to go over our city laws with a trainee and he just would take the effort or just didn't care. Documented the troubles with city ordinances and verbally notified the FTO sup. Next day he quit.

I have a big speach when I'm the first FTO for a trainee. I tell them "I expect you to make mistakes, get lost, forget, have brain farts.......etc etc." As long as they show progress and improvement everything will be cool.


oh yea, I've got permanent finger grooves on my "oh shit" handle. Tons o fun.
Link Posted: 2/2/2006 7:56:01 AM EST
We ran into this problem at my department recently. Similar circumstances, we are a small PD and one of Sgt. was training a new reserve officer. The biggest thing is do not sign him / her off until you are completely satisfied with what you are teaching him / her and make sure they will be fine when they get on their own.

Also take into consideration that the recruit may not grasp everything right off and may need some guidance. Just be patient and willing to take your time to teach him, so the recruit can be successful.

Be Safe
Link Posted: 2/2/2006 2:45:44 PM EST
Document, document, document. I am lavish with the praise - if a rookie does something well, he will know it, as will everyone else. At the same time, do not be afraid to point out errors and correct them, immediately if needed.

Also, make sure you know your department's policies inside and out, and stay fresh on legal matters. You're there to be a repository of knowledge, make sure you have some to provide.
Link Posted: 2/2/2006 7:41:50 PM EST
Don't micromanage him. The first week or so in our dept., the rookie is basically on an intensive ride-along. But, after that, let him do progressively more and more of the work.

The first time you FTO, it is really easy to see the rookie do things "not quite right" (a lot of times, it's just not your way), and then you jump right in and take the call over completely. He will not learn the job if you keep doing that. As others said earlier, give them the chance to make mistakes as long as they learn from them.

It's a hell of a lot of responsibilty, make sure you teach him well. Your own ass may some day depend on it. Good luck, it can be frustrating at times, but it's really rewarding.
Link Posted: 2/3/2006 8:56:48 AM EST
You are going to be put in a very influential (SP?) position. You also need to have your department document the lack of opporunity for FTO training. In my state FTOs are required to attend a one week FTO school and then every other year you attend an update. This is done to help reduce liability to you, the trainee, department, town, and Police reputation.

The trainee should start off in a position where they observe for 1-2 weeks. As soon as comfortable get them on the radio and filling out paperwork. Then let them handle the calls, keep in mind their level of training. I tell my trainees that I will always back them and step in before they are in hot water.

Usually a training program goes in phases and at each phase the trainee picks up more responsibility. Make sure they understand what your and your department's expectations area and alsways keep officer safety in mind.

Realistic training has the best results. Force on force or simunition works great. Practice car stops through out the shift. Use an in care video to review and discuss changes. You are there to impart on the trainee all you know about police work in a short period of time. Make that time effective. Remember they will watch you and take from your actions what they remember. Being an FTO takes more than the 8 hour shift to be effective (or whatever shift you have).

If there are specific questions about my comments feel free to e-mail or im me.

Good Luck

Link Posted: 2/3/2006 9:03:05 AM EST
[Last Edit: 2/3/2006 9:03:23 AM EST by NorCal_LEO]
Link Posted: 2/3/2006 9:24:20 AM EST
As an FTO you're job is not to fail the trainee, your job is to train the trainee. Now a person who's a disaster doesn't need to be a LEO but trainees need to be able to make mistakes and learn from them.

As an FTO don't appear to be just doing it because you want to be lazy and escape the reports. Do your job thoroughly and TEACH him/her.

Good luck.

I enjoyed being an FTO but it's tiring and you want to get out and chase some bad guys yourself. There's nothing more frustrating than sitting in the passenger seat and watching opportunities get passed up by the trainee and you just have to let them go. The trainee will never learn to do things on their own if you dictate everything that they need to do.
Link Posted: 2/6/2006 12:08:18 PM EST
My first goal would be get to a kaminsky school ASAP. The other piece of advice is be a trainer who thinks outside the box. I work in a rural area where most of the calls are high frequency/verrrry low intensity. Come up with training scenarios utilizing other officers to simulate the low frequency/high intensity calls. You would be surprised how well your trainees respond and also a good way to reenergize some of those ROD types in your agency. Third piece of advice Document, Document, Document. There was nothing worse than scanning the daily observation reports of other FTO's and finding one page of notes. If that trainee ever gets into a questionable critical incident, attorneys may check his training even back several years to see what he/she was taught. If your documentation sucks, standby.
Link Posted: 2/6/2006 4:28:10 PM EST
Two observations from somebody that went thru FTO just over 1 year ago;
1. Don't 'preach' to the trainee about your qualifications/resume every time the trainee does something wrong. And don't continue to speak just to hear your own voice.

2. I tend to disagree with the statement about not socializing with other officers until off FTO. I would say don't go out chasing women w/other officers but building the support network with other officers is very important IMO. And frankly, the non-FTO officers might see something good/bad that the FTO didn't. I think it's important for both the trainee and FTO to have the exposure.

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