Post-academy, on-the-job training has always been an essential part of a recruit officer’s emersion into the complex role of police officer. For many years the Paducah Police Department, like many other departments across the country, utilized the San Jose-based police training model, commonly known as the Field Training Officer Program or FTO Program. In 2007, the Paducah Police Department, along with a handful of other progressive agencies in Kentucky, transitioned from the thirty-year-old FTO model to a newer model that was recently developed in Reno, Nevada, commonly called the Police Training Officer Program or PTO Program.
The new PTO program places more emphasis on the process of adult education through “problem-based learning” or PBL. The ideas of PBL focus on teaching the recruit the processes of solving problems, rather than pointing them to one pre-drawn conclusion. This process has been used in mainstream education for several years, but it is just now finding its way into the law enforcement-training world. The nature of police work makes the two a good match. And for the most part, many police officers say that we have been using problem-based learning since our inception, but now we can formally introduce it to recruits the minute they start the post-academy training process.
The PTO program is 15 weeks in length. It starts with one week of classroom orientation, where the recruit is provided with agency specific information that was not taught at the police academy. This includes things such as radio codes, local procedures, and orientation. After the one-week orientation, the recruit is placed with a trained PTO and actually hits the streets. The training is broken down into one week of simple observation, followed by four progressive phases: Non-Emergency Response, Emergency Response, Patrol Activities, and Criminal Investigations. Each of the four phases is three weeks in length. During each phase the recruit and PTO complete a weekly evaluation of the recruit’s performance. After the recruit completes the Non-Emergency and Emergency phases, they are subjected to a one-week mid-term evaluation. If they are learning at the appropriate rate, they will advance to the final two phases which will be followed by a final evaluation week. If the recruit successfully completes all of the requirements, their training records will be presented to the Board of Evaluators or BOE. The BOE consists of the PTO Coordinator, PTO Supervisor, the two PTOs who conducted the recruit’s evaluations, the Administrative Captain of Patrol, and the Assistant Chief of Patrol. The BOE will make a final recommendation of a recruit’s status to the Chief of Police.
The Patrol Training Coordinator is Assistant Chief Anthony Copeland. The Patrol Training Supervisors are Capt. Wes Orazine, Capt. Chris Baxter, Sgt. Chris Bolton, and Sgt. Matt Hopp. The Patrol Training Officers are as follows: Josh Bryant, Ryan Clark, Kevin Collins, Christopher Fearon, Nick Francescon, Eric Taylor, Steven Thompson, and Jarrett Woodruff.