Police Officer Safety Training: A National Survey

Police Officer looks back on arrestThe National Police Foundation released a new report, National Survey on Officer Safety Training: Findings and Implications, drawing from the Preventing Violence Against Law Enforcement and Ensuring Officer Resilience and Survivability (VALOR) Initiative created by the Bureau of Justice Assistance (BJA). The primary goal of the Initiative is to “increase officer safety and resilience and strengthen officer wellness” via training opportunities. In order to enhance the future of officer safety, a national survey was utilized to understand the impacts and constraints of the current law enforcement training methods and techniques.

As described in the report, the survey results were divided into four sections: officer safety threats, current training and future training needs, training formats, and knowledge of officer safety training opportunities offered via VALOR Initiative.

The following points represent key findings and their implications based on the survey results:

  • Agency size increases the likelihood that agencies provide various safety training, with the exception of the largest agencies captured in the survey;
  • The need for different types of training was similar for all agencies, regardless of size;
  • Executives from the smallest agencies were the least likely to report future training needs;
  • Training on contacts with the mentally ill is perceived as the highest future training need (in conjunction with active shooter training);
  • Executives were less likely to report providing in-service driving-related training or view future need for this training, despite vehicle collisions representing the greatest risk to officer safety;
  • The biggest challenge to providing officer training is pulling officers off the streets and away from routine duties to allocate time to training;
  • Survey identified scenario-based training, followed by virtual reality, as the most desired format for officer safety training, with online training identified as the least desirable.

Overall, this survey provides data that helps agencies and executives to better understand future officer safety training needs while strengthening officer resilience. With several key points highlighting areas of improvement, the report calls for additional research to enhance practical application of the results in the field.

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