Field Training Officer
Rodriguez, Tedoro (Ted)
Law Enforcement Management Institute of Texas (LEMIT)
Police work is the pivotal point of the justice system. The authorities, powers, and job descriptions must be perfectly balanced to keep the scale of justice balanced. Unfortunately, the scale is frequently tilted due to the actions of police officers. For the most part, the root cause of this unbalance is due to a lack of training or improper training. This all begins with the Field Training Officer (FTO) not being adequately prepared for the most important position in every police agency. According to research, most FTOs have less than two years of experience. FTOs are selected from the patrol schedule and sent to a 24-hour course developed by the Texas Commission on Law Enforcement (TCOLE). For the most part, that is the extent of the preparation for FTO. It is here where the justice scales begin to tilt. The FTO should be the most trained officer in every agency. They are the architects that will pave the way for the future of an agency. The delicate balance of constitutional rights and civil liberties versus public safety start with the FTO. The focus of this paper is the selection and development of this significant position. This paper intends to redirect the attention of law enforcement executives to the FTO. Since the beginning of the reform era, law enforcement focused on developing into a profession. This gave birth to standardized field training programs i.e., San Jose program (Moore & Womack,1975) and Reno Program (Hoover, 2006) to reach that ultimate goal. These programs emphasize “the process,” and delineate guidelines, but, the substance is what the FTO brings to the program. The only way administrators can balance society freedoms and an individual’s rights is by centering their attention on the Field Training Officer.