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  • So I just put in for FTO

    So I have been with my PD for just over three years now. I work in a larger city in TX ,(300,000+). Usually we are hurting for FTO's and any officer with three years or more on the PD is eligible to apply. Just about any officer that does apply usually gets it, usually due to the shortage of FTO applicants.

    With that said, FTO will start in February. So I still have some time to decide how I will be as an FTO, or what kind of FTO I will be, (granted that I am selected). I know that I will be big on officer safety, report writing, and radio communication, things that I think that I am really proficient in. Geographics not so much, (just because the recruits switch FTO's every month), but you better know your major streets and navigation, (N,S,E,W).

    I know that this is a big responsibility. Not only am I responsible for myself and my actions, but another whole new officers as well, with little to no experience. I think that it will be rewarding, fun and exciting, yet at the same time will be serious and stressful. With that said, I am a pretty laid back person, so I don't want to be a "hard *ss".

    What kind of advice can you prior or current FTO's give me? Any cool techniques in doing or explaining certain things? I know there won't be much, (the shift I am going to be on has a very high call volume), but anything special I can have a recruit do during down time?

    Appreciate anything yall can give me!

  • #2
    So I just put in for FTO

    Be patient. You absolutely have to give trainees enough room to make mistakes, as long as they won't get themselves hurt or blow a serious case. Don't just jump in and tell them what they're doing wrong. Ask vague questions that give them just a hint that they need to re-think what they're doing, and guide them toward finding their own answer.

    There is more than one way to skin a cat. In most situations, as long as the trainee is doing it technically correctly, it's okay. They need to develop their own style, and have to be able to find what works best for them in the current situation.

    Do not cut slack on officer safety and integrity. Officer safety violations get people killed. Integrity violations get careers killed. There is zero room for sloppiness on either.

    Be a grammar nazi. They won't like seeing the red pen come out, but down the road will appreciate that they learned how to write outstanding, rather than just barely passing, reports.

    This is all about them, not you. You can use war stories to illustrate a point, but use examples that are relevant and make sure the point is the lesson being taught and not about how cool you were.

    Trainees are deputies and officers just like us - it says so on their badges. They just don't have as much experience. DO NOT treat them like idiots, children or lesser beings.

    Follow the Rule of Three. Every shift, the trainee learns three new locations, three new policies or procedures, makes at least three self-initiated stops that results in citation or arrest and tells you three things about every person he speaks with and every location he goes to.

    Document, document, document. Well-written, thorough, accurate evaluations not only prove the case when it's time to can someone, but are also valuable for the next FTO to develop an individualized training plan for the trainee.

    Follow the standardized evaluation guidelines. Trainees are evaluated against set, formalized standards. The standards are based on a competent solo beat officer. They aren't being rated against another trainee at the same level, or on your gut feeling. Use the SEGs to quantify the rating. Nebulous ratings and personal opinions don't help the trainee or the department. Evaluations are based on facts.

    Accept that 20% of trainees just will not make it, no matter how well the trainers do their job and no matter how much effort the trainee puts in. Some people just can't do the job. Be honest with your trainee when he is that one, but make sure your assessment is accurate. At the same time, don't pass someone because of political pressures (his dad's an officer, we need females to pass, etc.) and have it on your conscience down the road when a preventable incident happens. Like Gordon Graham says, if it's predictable, it's preventable.

    Have fun. Training is tough, stressful, demanding, but you and the trainee can have plenty of laughs as well.

    Treat trainees as people first. You can still train them effectively and hold them to standards, but you can also make close friends for life as well as start them on the right path to being outstanding FTOs, detectives and sergeants. One of the most rewarding moments of my career has been when a former trainee, who quickly became one of my closest friends, got promoted from homicide detective to sergeant.

    Pay attention to yourself and know when you are getting overloaded. After three or four straight training phases, you need a few weeks working solo. Take time off when you need it. FTOing is challenging, stressful and time-consuming. You must take care of yourself.
    Last edited by ateamer; 11-05-2014, 02:40 AM.
    Government is not the solution to our problem; government is the problem. - Ronald Reagan

    I don't think It'll happen in the US because we don't trust our government. We are a country of skeptics, raised by skeptics, founded by skeptics. - Amaroq

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    • #3
      ateamer-

      Bravo, well said.
      Been there, done that, and as my departments' GDI (General Departmental instructor), I am going to copy your reply, and put it out to my instructors/FTOs.

      MODERATOR(S)---This needs to pinned/sticky'ed to the top of the training section !!
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      • #4
        Don't give a guy a pass on something because he's a good dude. If he's a good dude he'll understand being held accountable for all his actions good and bad. Praise when they do something right and call him out when he does something wrong, and document both.

        Don't predict future behavior in your evaluations. "Trainee soandso has a great future ahead of him" etc etc. If the wheels fall off later on those type of statements will bite you in the behind.
        Today's Quote:

        "The difference between stupidity and genius is that genius has its limits."
        Albert Einstein

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        • #5
          My advice is know the difference between "wrong" and "not the way I would do it".

          Reports, calls for service, use of force, and investigations aren't wrong just because you would have done it differently.

          Realize at 3 years you don't know it all.

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          • #6
            I was going to chime in just to add the two cents of a guy that had one absolutely fantastic FTO and one awful one, but damn if ateamer didn't just knock it right out of the park.

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            • #7
              Originally posted by swat_op506 View Post

              MODERATOR(S)---This needs to pinned/sticky'ed to the top of the training section !!
              The moderators here don't read every post........................they only handle "reported issues"

              If you need to bring something to their attention you really should PM the moderator

              His name is JDFranke-----------
              Since some people need to be told by notes in crayon .......Don't PM me with without prior permission. If you can't discuss the situation in the open forum ----it must not be that important

              My new word for the day is FOCUS, when someone irritates you tell them to FOCUS

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              • #8
                Excellent Post.....what ateamer said!

                I will also emphasize that trainees are new and will make mistakes. If it's not Officer safety or integrity related, you don't have to be an a hole about it. They are supposed to make mistakes.

                DEBRIEF every call. Big or small. Ask them how they felt they handled it, then do the praise sandwich. You start off with what they did right, go into where they screwed up, then finish with something positive. Debrief every call.
                "Let's walk down there and F!$#@ 'em all"....Hodges (Colors)

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                • #9
                  ateamer nailed this one pretty well, I just have a couple things to add.

                  1. Realize that you will not be able to train every recruit the same way. Different people learn differently, and it's part of your job to find a way to successfully teach them. One recruit might learn everything they need to know just by discussing the general principles of whatever you happen to be teaching. Another may need you to give them a variety of examples so that they can see the differences in the situations and then come to the general principle on their own. There are recruits who learn best by discussion, those who learn by you asking them questions, and those learn by them asking you questions. The thing you have to realize is that it's much easier to change they way you teach than for them to change how they learn.

                  2. As lawman733 said, debrief every call. But I would add that you should also "What if?" every call. Ask them what they would do differently in similar but different circumstances. I know that I can remember one particular incident where my habit of doing this paid huge dividends.

                  I had a new recruit who, on her first night driving the unit, responded to a suspect fleeing from the scene of the break in on foot. I guided her on where to go to cut off the suspect's direction of travel, and we arrived at an intersection just in time to see the subject and the pursuing officer pass us by. We both joined the chase through a field, when the suspect tripped and fell. The initial pursuing officer caught up with the suspect as he was getting up and began cuffing him, but the suspect continued struggling. I got there first, used a quick strike to subdue the struggling suspect, then held the suspect's upper body down while she pinned his legs as the initial officer applied the handcuffs. I told her she did a great job getting in to assist like that because, despite that it was already two officers hands on with one suspect and we would have been able to handle it, she saw something she could do to prevent further resistance and did it. I also asked her what she'd have done if we'd been in, for instance, the parking lot of a bar instead of an empty field. After thinking for a second she realized that someone would need to watch the crowd. I told her that she was right and that she really needed to remember that because, while they teach you to do it that way in the academy, it's too easy to get sucked into the moment and forget that the person resisting isn't the only potential threat. The next night, we got into that exact scenario in the parking lot of a particularly rowdy bar when a subject assaulted another officer and the crowd got between them before the officer could take him into custody. I was able to get to him and take him to the ground, but I was pretty well surrounded by the crowd. All it took was one glance up to see that trainee standing over me with her Taser drawn and barking orders for the crowd to back off and I knew it was in control. Can't say I've ever been prouder of anyone I've trained or more glad that I took the time to run through scenarios with a rookie.

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                  • #10
                    While you have someone to train, try to be better than the best FTO you had. Ask them what their weaknesses are, they'll tell you. Work on those things and add a few important issues each day. Critique each call and have them tell you how it could have been handled better but if they did a good job tell them. The debriefing is to expand the mind and learn from experience, not a chance to beat them down. While I'm on the subject, adult learning is broken down into three types of learning.
                    1) visual: remembers what they see
                    2) auditory: remembers what they hear
                    3) kinesthetic: remembers what they do (hands on).
                    Always try to teach in two categories or more ie; if they're having a hard time remembering what you told them then have them write it down themselves while reading it to themselves aloud. That way as they've written it (hands on) they've also seen it on paper and heard themselves repeat it. You've hit all three senses. Next, repeat, repeat and repeat! Nothing teaches faster than repetition. As adults we can only learn 4 new things at a time. Repetition moves the learned information from the conscious mind to the subconscious mind where it can be recalled at a moments notice. For example, you don't have to remember to breath because it's embedded into your subconscious mind but if someone asked you to run backwards and say the alphabet you'd have to concentrate on what you were doing (it's in the conscious mind). The goal is to move as much information to the subconscious mind as possible. Only that information is what's truly learned. Everything else will be forgotten in time.

                    At the end of each day tell them they did a good job, to encourage them. When you're done training each person, it doesn't hurt to ask them how you could improve teaching. After all, we should all strive to improve.

                    Sent from my SM-N910T using Tapatalk

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                    • #11
                      I wish you the best of luck! Remember how your Field Training Officer was, and remember how you felt when you started!
                      The sheep generally do not like the sheepdog. He looks a lot like the wolf. He has fangs and the capacity for violence. The difference, though, is that the sheepdog must not, cannot and will not ever harm the sheep. Any sheepdog who intentionally harms the lowliest little lamb will be punished and removed.

                      I Am the Sheepdog.


                      "And maybe just remind the few, if ill of us they speak,
                      that we are all that stands between
                      the monsters and the weak." - Michael Marks


                      sigpic

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                      • #12
                        Ateamer hit the nail on the head.

                        Keep in mind that on occasion, the "hard ***" is what a trainee needs, especially in certain areas like officer survival tactics and the the like. This is supremely important being that if the officer graduates your program and is involved in some Ferguson style BS, you will end up on the stand as well, most likely.

                        Discipline with dignity, is the mantra I use when I have a trainee.

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                        • #13
                          Well I am going to find out this week whether or not I was selected. They are picking 40ish FTO's or so. I already plan on picking arguably, the busiest shift in the city, (weekend power shift in the inner core), to give my recruits a challenge in a high stress, fast paced area.

                          One thing I will always keep in mind are my FTO's. Six out of my seven I really liked and one I kind of idolized. I think I am going to base a lot of my teaching traits and characteristics based off of how he trained me. Fair, laid back, easy going, yet firm, demanding and hard to please. I definitely don't want to be an *******, become stand-offish, or have unfair expectations for my recruits. I also am not looking to go on a "power trip". I do realize that these new officers one day will be my beat partners and my back up when I am punching out for an emergency.

                          I do have a basic list of expectations that I would want my recruits to know by the time they come to me. Of course this list will expand more and more as we get deeper into the program. I am still set on officer safety, radio communication and report writing as being my major focal points. I will also expect a basic understanding of my recruits to know their major roads, since my beat will be an easy grid, and will expect them to know their N,S,E,W. I will also look at how calm, cool and collected my recruits will be during stressful situations.

                          Overall, I don't think I expect too much. I think I will be pretty easy going, but will be firm as to what I expect of the recruits on what I consider are major traits. I am excited to teach these new officers what I know and am looking forward to meeting the future of my PD.

                          I appreciate everybody's tips and feedback! It has helped me out a lot. I will make sure to keep yall updated as I find out whether or not I was selected and as things chug along throughout the program.

                          Thanks!

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                          • #14
                            If you'll permit a Limey (and assuming that Police work is much the same the world over) I had three rules when I was the equivalent of an FTO:

                            1) Always know where you are (otherwise you can't call for back-up or an Ambulance).
                            2) If you don't know, ask.
                            3) Remember that it's a contact sport (so I expect physical involvement should offenders prove a handful).
                            I'm a little bit waayy, a little bit wooah, a little bit woosh, I'm a geezer.

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                            • #15
                              I strongly suspect you have the same training system I do at my department based on your post, if you aren't in fact also with my agency. In which case, if I trained you, I hope I was one of the good ones

                              I came on as an FTO after three years also. Best advice I can give is to ALWAYS tell a rookie WHY we do something, not just WHAT we do. For example- why does an auto theft report have to be entered within an hour of getting the call? Answer- because an officer might RIGHT NOW be stopping that car on traffic. It might be a good thing for that fellow officer to know he's got a hijacker or auto thief in the car, not just Joe Citizen who forgot to signal a turn.

                              When rookies know the why, they tend to remember the what better. They also can make good decisions on prioritizing- it's not just an abstract "Hey, I need this auto theft report in no more than an hour" but "the faster I enter this auto theft report, the better chance some officer out there might spot the car".

                              If you don't know the why of something, find out. If you're not sure how to handle something (say, a DWI with a blood draw warrant), then find out. Three years- or five, or ten, or fifteen- is not enough to know everything about the job (I dare not say anything about the old heads with twenty years on). You're always learning, at least if you're any good.
                              Last edited by artless195; 12-18-2014, 09:19 PM.

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