Incorporating Research Evidence into Academy and In-Service Training

Police academy and in-service curricula primarily focus on preparing officers for the daily tasks of policing, including writing reports, responding to calls for service, making arrests, and submitting evidence. Academies also emphasize training on use of force and the development of driving and other physical fitness skills. Because of these emphases, academies tend to reinforce the reactive and procedural nature of traditional policing. Yet, many crime prevention and organizational reforms and innovations in policing go beyond a reactive, procedural approach. For example, problem-solving, proactive targeting of crime patterns or repeat offenders, and the promotion of respectful and fair interactions with citizens all require knowledge and technical expertise that extend beyond this initial training. And officers are not likely to receive training in such matters outside the academy, as field training and daily police work also tend to revolve around procedural and reactive practices.

Incorporating lessons from research—i.e., evidence-based policing—into academy and in-service curricula therefore is important and timely. At the same time, doing so poses a number of challenges. This specialized information may not be well-known among academy instructors, and academies have limited budgets for hiring outside experts to teach and develop curricula for these subjects. For this demonstration, the MDP team is working with various police academies and organizations to develop video-based learning modules introducing officers to various aspects of evidence-based policing, with attached workbooks and quizzes that other academies can freely access and use. Modules will be posted at the right. Such modules, whether on problem-oriented policing, hot spots policing, or legitimacy policing, will incorporate research knowledge, and provide a readily usable teaching resource for academy instructors.