Department's Training Reminder
Sends Unintended Messages

by ALADS Board of Directors
The recent Sheriff's Department notice to deputies regarding the requirement that they had to complete 24 hours of Update/Refresher Training required by the Commission on Peace Officers Standards & Training (POST) by December 31, 2017 sent troubling messages about the state of the department and its ability to provide crucial, mandated training.
POST provides all law enforcement agencies in California a full two years to complete the required training, which includes perishable skills such as tactical communications, arrest and control, and emergency vehicle operations. The department has acknowledged the importance of training in its policies, the preamble which reads "Providing training opportunities for all personnel is a necessary element that enables the Department to provide innovative, attentive, high-quality service to the communities we serve."
One should expect that based on this mission statement, a well-managed and well-staffed department and its training division would be able to devise training days in that time period where all deputies could attend in-service classes and complete mandatory training. This did not occur, prompting the reminder message directing deputies to online courses to complete the training. Having failed to create training days, the department is allowing deputies who need to complete training online to be taken out of the field for that purpose.
While training can certainly be done online, there are limits to online learning for sheriff's deputies. In a typical school course, online learning is usually geared towards retaining enough information to pass a test and then move on to the next class. In contrast, the topics covered are important material that deputies must be able to apply in the real world, often under stressful situations. Simply knowing the material well enough to answer questions and end a video session is not enough.
In order to be prepared for real-world law enforcement situations, deputies must have as realistic a training experience as possible. Realism plays a huge role in tactical training and is essential for deputies. In fact, the department's  Use of Force Policy notes the importance of training and highlights that when evaluating use of force in self-defense, defense of others, and during the execution of lawful duties, the department "shall also evaluate the tactics of the personnel involved, whether the actions of Department personnel were consistent with Department training, and whether Department members used/deployed proper safety equipment. " Watching online POST videos may check a compliance box, but deputies must be offered structured classroom instruction in light of the department's use of force evaluation policies.
It is not only use of force where in-person instruction alongside other deputies is needed; we believe training in crucial areas mandated by POST should be provided in a classroom setting. This allows deputies to ask questions and discuss critical issues with instructors and fellow deputies. Receiving refresher defensive tactics or learning to deal with the increased population of mentally ill cannot be effectively done sitting at a computer. Learning with live instructors allows the material covered to be amplified, with both live feedback and discussion of other deputies' real-life experiences dealing with the topic at hand.
The state's mandated requirements are not onerous or excessive - 24 hours in a two-year period. The department needs to send a message that it considers this mandated training important enough that it is willing to remove deputies from the field to attend training days on these and other law enforcement topics. It is easy to write a lofty policy preamble about training, but the true test of commitment to the policy is the effort and resources provided to carry it out.
The Association for Los Angeles Deputy Sheriffs (ALADS) is the collective bargaining agent representing more than 7,900 deputy sheriffs and district attorney investigators working in Los Angeles County. Like our Facebook page
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