Regarding training, the executives were asked to identify if their officers receive a selection of officer safety and related forms of training during their basic academy and/or during in-service training. The training areas largely reflect areas covered in existing VALOR programs, with a few additional areas based on conversations with law enforcement officials.

Percent of Agencies Providing Listed Training in the Academy versus Agencies Providing In-Service Training

Agencies reporting their officers receive training on listed topic in the academy

Agencies providing listed in-service training

Academy and inservice training graph 2
  • Analysis:

    The large majority reported their officers receive training in the academy on officer survival, threats to officers, deadly and non-lethal scenarios, contacts with the mentally ill, active shooter response, and driving. A notably lower percentage of executives reported their officers received training in the academy on field casualty care, officer rescue tactics, and how to recognize and counter ambush attacks.

    The most common types of in-service training provided, where over 90% of agencies provided the training, were active shooter training, case law related to use of force, and contacts with the mentally ill. More than 80% of agencies provided scenario training for deadly force and non-lethal force, principles and tactics of de-escalation, trends in threats to officer safety, and officer survival.

    Additional analysis found limited variation in the reported levels of in-service training by agency region; conversely, many significant differences were observed by agency size. The likelihood of an agency providing in-service training on a particular topic increased with agency size, where agencies with 100-499 sworn personnel were more likely to provide a given type of training than agencies that have 1-24, 25-59, or 50-99 sworn. However, the largest agencies (500 or more sworn personnel) were less likely to report they provide a given in-service training than agencies with 100-499, except for a few types of training. For the largest agencies (500 or more sworn personnel), the amount of training received in various officer safety topics was similar to agencies with less than 50 sworn personnel.

Next, executives were asked to assess their future need for training. The operating assumption is that if they are providing a given type of training but report there is a high need for more of that training, then the training is likely insufficient, or they believe officers require refresher training to maintain their preparedness.

The executives were asked to assess their need for conducting training on the same topics in the next three years, with responses of (1) low need, (2) moderate need, and (3) high need.

Perceived Need for Training in Listed Officer Safety Areas Over the Next Three Years

Future training needs graph

1 = Low Need      2 = Moderate Need      3 = High Need

  • Analysis:

    Agencies indicated they had the highest need for future training in areas related to force interactions with citizens and threats (e.g. active shooter training, scenario training related to deadly and non-lethal force, and de-escalation). Agencies are also most likely to provide training in these areas. The types of training with the lowest reported need in the future were related to social interaction issues not directly related to force or threats to officers (e.g. implicit bias training, legitimacy and procedural justice, crowd management, and demonstration control), and driving.

    Important to note, training on driver decision-making ranked among the lowest future training needs, yet data from the LEO Near Miss officer safety initiative suggests driver decision-making is one of the leading contributing factors for officer-involved motor vehicle collisions. In fact, 71% of officers self-reported that their decision-making was the primary contributing risk factor for either being involved or nearly being involved in a motor vehicle collision.

Section II Takeaways:

Two main discrepancies exist between the risks to officers and the training to prepare officers for those risks:

  1. Though motor vehicle collisions were reported as having the greatest perceived risk of killing or seriously harming officers, it did not have the highest levels of related in-service training provided by agencies or the highest levels of perceived need for future training.
  2. The training most likely to be provided to officers, both now and in the future, focuses on assault-based topics, yet the likelihood of an officer being seriously injured or killed by a firearm or assault (excluding gunshot wound or edged weapon) was only ranked as moderate to low perceived risk.