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Training is imperative if you want your officers to be up to the task of exerting force effectively. Situations in which officers need to use force often require rapid decision making at times when it is easy to fall into panic. Training is vital in these situations, as effective educational programs ensure that your officers will have built the right habits before they go into the field. When everything starts to go wrong, people tend to revert to instinct. Training is about ensuring that people instinctively make good decisions.

Cost-effective document management software platforms give you the tools you need to create advanced training systems, and these three best practices can help you ensure your officers are in a good position to handle force appropriately:

1. Make frequent updates
Many law enforcement agencies run into problems because their training materials cannot keep up with the constantly changing operational environment officers face. Circumstances are always changing in the field, and as laws, regulations and community expectations shift, officers need to be trained and retrained in response. Legacy training models based off of paper handbooks are not flexible enough to keep up with these demands, as manual, paper-based processes are cumbersome.

Going digital lets you accelerate this process through a Web app that is shared across your user base, letting you easily make iterative updates as circumstances change.

2. Track user participation
Training will have a limited impact on your organization if all of your officers aren’t engaging with the content. Even if it is not absolutely essential for every officer to go through each module, training establishes culture and expectations around the agency. Getting maximum participation in training programs is critical, and digitization makes this process much easier. Document management software can distribute training materials through a Web app, allow users to sign off that they’ve read the document and record participation. You can even set the system to send users alerts if a preset amount of time has passed without them signing off on the training.

Being able to track user participation simultaneously helps you establish your culture and create a built-in audit trail for training compliance.

3. Establish collaborative processes
There is a great deal to keep in mind when establishing training materials, and law enforcement agencies need holistic strategies to create modules that meet their needs. One person, no matter his or her level of expertise, will be able to create a complete training system. Instead, you need to get multiple officers involved, often at diverse levels of the agency, to create effective content.

For example, having a high-ranking officer create training will take advantage of that person’s experience and knowledge of regulatory laws. However, the officer’s time sitting behind a desk may have left him or her too distanced from field work to ensure requirements will make sense for police on the street. Getting multiple parties involved in creating the training materials is key.

Digital document management systems let users track edits, collaborate and otherwise interact within the Web app, making it easier to get diverse parties involved in the process.

Following these training best practices can help your officers understand expectations surrounding use-of-force in the field, and digital document management systems make it easier to enact these strategies.