Selecting FTOs

I am an FTO sergeant on my squad.  Today was the selection process for new field training officers.  A letter of intent, resume, supervisors’ recommendations, and performance evaluations were previously submitted by the candidates.  Interviews were then conducted by a panel of command officers and supervisors.

The dozen candidates acquitted themselves well.  I was impressed with the applicants’ knowledge of our program, which is based upon the San Jose model.  During the interview, most articulated a strong desire to teach and explained the importance of adapting their style to the particular recruit’s learning needs.

This is a far cry from the attitudes of FTO’s a few decades ago.  Years back, a command officer on today’s board was one of the three FTO’s, of which I was a member, who were collectively known as “The Hammer, Anvil, and Sickle.”  The third member was my current partner-sergeant on the weekend shift.  We were given many of the department’s make-or-break training cases.

None of our little trio had any problem with canning a recruit to protect his or her life, our citizens, the other officers, or the agency.  This job is not for everyone, as I’ve said.  A shame because most of the recruits who resigned or were fired were very nice people. Whether unable to multitask the demands of the duty day, to communicate effectively with our customers, or to learn the officer safety mindset necessary to the profession, they had to be culled from the herd.

It was a harder approach than the opinions expressed by this new breed.  I heard the word “compassion” from a few of today’s applicants in regard to treatment of the recruit officers. Strange.  That was not a word with which I was familiar in the FTO program.  Admittedly, I am a dinosaur.  The way we “used to do things” was not always right, but it was not always wrong in its attempt to protect society from inept, inadequate, or impotent police officers.

While the professionalism of this current generation of LEO’s is intact, its emphasis on softer treatment concerns me.  This is a job for those thick of skin, hardened in the fire of training, tested in the crucible of the street.  People injure and kill us.

We selected four outstanding candidates for FTO school.  I hope today’s finest will be safe and remain the gatekeepers to the profession.


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