Monroe County Sheriff’s Office
How Monroe County saved $87K in annual training costs.
Numbers at a glance
For years, every deputy in the Monroe County Sheriff’s Office was required to sit through three, 12-hour days of bloodborne pathogen, sexual harassment, and other redundant retraining mandated by the county’s five accrediting bodies, state statute or county policy. Deputies dreaded these long days, which left no time for hands-on, scenario-based training that reflected conditions in the field. After the training, the sheriff’s office would issue a paper test to try to gauge retention but since the test was the same every year, there was no way to ensure that deputies actually comprehended the policies and didn’t simply copy the answers.
Penny Phelps, Captain of Special Operations at Monroe County Sheriff’s Office, was frustrated with the county’s training methods. Not only was the training proving ineffective, it was also costing the county hundreds of thousands of dollars for the deputies to be there. Monroe County doesn’t have a relief factor for jail staffing, so any time a corrections officer attended training, the county had to pay the officer for his or her time, and also pay the officer’s replacement for overtime. All told, Monroe County was losing about $150,000 each year in overtime in order for officers to attend training.
When Sheriff Rick Ramsay was elected in 2012, he told Phelps and the training staff that he wanted to make training more interactive, more scenario-based and more enjoyable. Phelps started looking for a platform to help the county transition to electronic training.
“[We reduced] the number of annual retraining module hours from 36—three 12-hour days—to one, four hour block.We were paying about $150,000 a year in overtime to have people come to training. By implementing PowerDMS, we saved the Sheriff $87,000 in overtime costs for people to attend training. That was an extremely easy sell.”
– Penny PhelpsCaptain of Special OperationsMonroe County Sheriff’s Office (FL)
The answer came when Phelps visited Collier County Sheriff’s Office, who had just started using PowerDMS. When the training sergeant showed Phelps everything PowerDMS could do, she was amazed. Phelps and the training staff revisited training materials and started using the PowerDMS platform for anything that could be taught in a lecture format. They uploaded PowerPoint presentations that included learning goals, training objectives and references, which made the courses compliant with the county’s accreditation standards. Deputies can access the courses at any time and from any device, which allows them to learn at their own pace and review any prior training they want to revisit. If an officer has to step away from a course or a test, PowerDMS will save their place, so the next time they log in, they can pick up where they left off.
To check retention, the training staff created a bank of 50 questions from which PowerDMS pulls randomly and creates a 25-question test unique to each employee. These randomized tests limit cheating and allows the command staff to change and improve future training based on the responses.
Thanks to the online training through PowerDMS, Monroe County Sheriff’s Office reduced in-person annual training hours from 36 to 4. Those four hours are devoted to practical, hands-on training like defensive driving and cell extractions. Instead of spending time in a classroom learning about bloodborne pathogens, deputies spend their time training on tactics to better protect themselves and their community. Instructors can do immediate remediation to make sure deputies truly understand and work through how to apply a procedure on a practical level.
Using PowerDMS for redundant training allowed the Monroe County Sheriff’s Office to cut down the man hours spent in training. Instead of spending 36 hours sitting in a classroom, deputies now spend just four hours in hands-on training, which saves Monroe County $87,000 each year in overtime costs.
Rather than dreading training, Monroe County officers and instructors now look forward to it. After the most recent training session, Phelps and the training staff issued a survey and found that 91 percent of respondents enjoyed participating in the scenario-based training and thought it was time well spent. In some cases, the training even helped save officers’ lives when they faced real-world situations they had prepared for in the hands-on training.
- 36 hours spent in redundant annual training
- No time for hands-on, reality-based training
- $150,000 spent in overtime costs for officers to
- Ineffective testing
- Reduced annual, in-person training time to 4 hours
- Online courses freed up time for scenario-based
- $87,000 saved in overtime costs
- Secure, individualized tests
- Instead of 36 hours in a classroom, deputies now spend just 4 hours in hands-on training
- $87,000 saved by Monroe County each year in overtime costs
- 91% of officers and instructors enjoy training
- Better trained officers = lives saved