5 Tips to Set Your Field Training Officers Up For Success

Provide your field training officers with the support they need to effectively mentor the officers of tomorrow.

April 24, 2023

Article highlights: 

The success of your agency largely depends on the effectiveness of your FTOs. As the first point of contact for new officers, they play a critical role in getting them job-ready and introducing them to the culture and values your agency represents. 

Guiding new officers through the complex policies and procedures required to do the job requires FTOs to invest significant time, energy, and patience. Taking on the responsibility of another officer's safety and training, in addition to their own workload, can leave FTOs prone to burnout if they don't receive adequate support. And if your FTOs are struggling, the quality of training they provide suffers, leaving your agency at risk. 

Read on to discover five tips you can implement in your agency to ensure your FTOs have the support they need to effectively mentor and develop the next generation of officers. 

1. Make documentation easy

Reporting and completing paperwork is an integral part of a police FTO checklist. But field training officers are often forced to do so using manual processes that are error-prone and unnecessarily time-consuming. They can quickly become buried in the documentation process and distracted from the higher-priority task of providing quality training. 

Not only is this frustrating for FTOs but it can lead to unintended consequences for your agency. Without easy ways to document trainee progress in the moment, trainers often rely on spending hours of overtime at the end of their shift to complete the day’s reporting. This forces them to rely on memory and any notes they compiled throughout the day, which unintentionally invites recency bias and unfair scoring into the process. 

Recency bias leaves trainers more prone to errors and unfair scoring and doesn’t provide you with an accurate assessment of your trainees. Field training software can help. FTOs get easy ways to complete reporting in the moment, simplify evaluations, and get out from underneath a burdensome documentation process. 

They get to put the focus back where it belongs; on providing quality training.

2. Make paperwork accessible

Police departments can seem like warehouses of paperwork at times. For field training officers trying to find specific materials, policies, or procedures, this can turn into a time-consuming scavenger hunt. 

In addition to their own workload, FTOs must complete extensive reporting. If materials aren’t easily accessible, their time soon becomes dominated by searching through paperwork instead of mentoring trainees. Instead of hours spent buried in manuals, you want your FTOs guiding new officers through real-life scenarios. 

Field training software supports FTOs by centralizing materials in one accessible location. No more digging, no more wasted time, just easy access to all relevant training materials and documentation. Not only does this save your field training officers time and frustration, but it protects your agency in the case of a lawsuit or IA investigation. Instead of spending weeks trying to compile proper documentation on training, it’s instantly accessible and available.

3. Don’t leave them behind

FTOs give officers their first authentic glimpse of the job. They set the tone, position officers for success, and help new officers lay the foundation for their career trajectories. But without proper support, field training officers themselves can get left behind. 

Through changes in policies, standards, and expectations, a field training officer’s workload remains consistently heavy. If trainers aren’t given effective feedback on how to improve, they can get stuck practicing outdated methods that don’t serve them, trainees, or your agency. 

Support your field training officers with data that both recognizes their contributions and gives them the information they need to improve and grow. The right field training software empowers FTOs with information on what’s working, so they can evolve and grow. Not only does this keep FTOs engaged but it instills a culture of excellence in your agency with the ability to make focused, continuous improvements.

4. Standardize training expectations

Having clearly defined and standardized training expectations benefits field training officers, trainees, and your agency as a whole. Providing FTOs with a clear map to follow helps them focus, be more efficient, and protect themselves and trainees from potential liability. 

Training methods can vary significantly by trainer and this can lead to trainees ending up with different levels of skill and knowledge. Additionally, trainers and mentors that have many years on the job can end up teaching trainees from personal experiences rather than the required curriculum. 

Standardizing expectations, and providing the support your field training officers need to meet them, takes the guesswork out of mentoring trainees. Field training software that supports different program types, and is configurable to your agency’s needs, can assist FTOs in meeting expectations of excellence without overburdening them.

5. Provide visibility

The field training officer job description is to mentor trainees to be effective future officers. While trainers know how their trainees are doing, they generally don’t have easy ways to measure a trainee’s progress over time. This lack of a clear picture makes it difficult to manage next steps and determine what areas might need focused effort or improvement. 

Providing visibility to your field training officers so they know the history of the recruit they’re receiving helps them refine their trainee’s path ahead of time. Providing your field training officers with visibility into current trainees gives them peace of mind knowing that nothing is missed or forgotten and that their trainees are on track for success. 

Without a clear picture, your FTOs are forced to try and put one together while managing their own workload. This can quickly grow burdensome and create missed opportunities for them and future officers. The right field training software can effectively work as an FTO checklist while also giving them an immediate and clear picture of where to focus their efforts.

How PowerReady supports your field training officers

Field training officers play a vital role in your agency, and the right field training software ensures they have the support they need to be successful. PowerReady, formerly PowerFTO, is police field training software that manages, tracks, and proves new role training for your whole team. 

PowerReady provides powerful but easy-to-use tools that simplify work for your field training officers, gives you the data you need to make informed improvements, and puts the focus back on quality training. It prioritizes the holistic, continuous improvement of your program.

If you’d like to learn more about all the ways PowerReady supports your field training officers, please contact us for a free consultation to explore if PowerReady is a good fit for your agency.

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