Editorial

Is two years enough training for police officers?

George Floyd, Breonna Taylor and Eric Garner are all names that come to mind with ill thought toward police as a result of their improper behavior that caused these individuals to lose their life. 

There are people who are police officers that should not be, but the professional requirements make it easier for people who are “bad apples” to sneak through the cracks. 

In most states, the minimum educational requirement to become a law enforcement officer is completing a high school diploma or obtaining a General Education Diploma (GED). 

The training period involves recruits attending a police academy for six months to learn about police responsibilities, law enforcement and tactics. 

Once a recruit graduates the academy, they are put into a field training step where they are paired up with a field training officer to help the recruit through typical situations encountered while on patrol. 

Field training lasts on average anywhere from 12 to 18 weeks. 

An officer, after about nine to 10 months is then out in the field on their own dealing with the various calls for service that arise. 

Other professions require much longer training and supervision before people are allowed to perform a job by themselves. 

Doctors require 10 to 14 years of education and residencies before they are licensed to practice. 

Lawyers must complete a bachelor’s degree, spend three years in law school, and pass an exam to become a licensed lawyer. 

Yet a profession where there are numerous responsibilities that require knowledge in areas of law, mental health, defensive tactics, police policy, and police procedure only require nine to 10 months of training. 

How can you judge if someone has a full grasp on how to properly perform the profession of a police officer with just under a year of training? 

After field training, officers are put on a probationary period that if misconduct occurs multiple times through the performance of their job, they can be fired. 

Probationary periods last from a year to two years and after that, those officers are considered a full fledge law enforcement officer. 

In a time of about two years of starting the academy and finishing the probationary period, a person becomes a fully licensed police officer – a profession that requires a great deal of responsibility from helping people in distress to carrying a firearm that can take another person’s life away.

It only requires on average two years of training and supervision before someone is considered an expert on the profession. 

Does it add up?

Is it time to rethink training for law enforcement jobs? 

Or is the training sufficient, but there needs to be more continuous development training especially in areas of effective communication and de-escalation techniques? 

Is it that people need to learn more about how police operate to better understand how to approach an encounter with law enforcement? 

There is never one answer that fixes a layered problem, and the conversation has started and needs to continue to find a solution. 

Because everyone can agree that with events in the past couple years involving police and people losing their lives, something is wrong that needs to be fixed.