Field Training and Evaluation Program Background
The Tampa Police Department Field Training & Evaluation Program was modeled after the original program created by the San Jose Police Department. The goals set forth are to give systematic, consistent and standardized training to all of the Probationary Officers (POs), who complete the sixteen week course. The ultimate goal of the program is to have the probationary officer capable of working by themselves as a one-person unit at the completion of their sixteen week program.
After completion of the Police Academy and upon appointment by the Tampa Police Department, the Probationary Officer's first six weeks will be in "Holdover" for classroom orientation and scenario based training. Next, the Probationary Officer is assigned to a Field Training Squad within a Patrol Division. The members of the Training Squads are Field Training Officers (FTOs) who have volunteered to train new officers in conjunction with their normal police duties. To become an FTO, officers must complete a state accredited forty-hour field training officer course, before being allowed to train. The Tampa Police Department currently has eight training squads allotted to the patrol divisions.
Upon arriving for their first roll call, Probationary Officers are assigned to their Phase I Field Training Officer. Their first two weeks will be an observation period in which they will ride with the Field Training Officer, but will not be graded on their performance on the street. This period is designed to acclimate the Probationary Officer to their new surroundings. They will, however, be graded on weekly written tests (given throughout the program) which cover operating procedures and state statues.
After completion of the observation periods, the Probationary Officer begins the actual evaluation program, which is divided into three, four week phases, followed by a final two-week phase (Phase IV). During these four phases they are graded daily in twenty-seven performance categories along with their weekly written tests. These twenty-seven categories fall under five general areas which are (1) performance tasks, (2) communication skills, (3) knowledge, (4) attitude/relations and, (5) appearance. These categories are noted on a daily observation report.
In each of the first three phases of the program, the Probationary Officer is assigned a new Field Training Officer. This is to ensure the Probationary Officer receives a more rounded view of police work through the abilities and expertise of several officers. It also ensures their abilities are being graded impartially, by eliminating the human aspect that might be given through just one Field Training Officer. During the first three phases the objective is to take what the Probationary Officer has learned in the Academy, and combine it with their new training and street experience.
At the end of Phase III, the Program Supervisors (using the daily observation reports, written test scores and input from the Field Training Officers), decide if the Probationary Officer should be allowed to enter Phase IV or be extended for additional training. Once entering Phase IV, the Probationary Officer is returned to their Phase I Field Training Officer who is now able to grade them on how well they have progressed since Phase I. In Phase IV, the Probationary Officer is expected to perform as a one-person unit, with the Field Training Officer present only for grading purposes. After the successful completion of Phase IV, the Probationary Officer is now assigned to a regular patrol division squad as an Officer. They are placed on a probationary status and receive bi-monthly evaluations until their first year anniversary.
Prior Experience Officers
The Tampa Police Department often hires Officers who have previous experience at other law enforcement agencies. These Officers start at Phase I and after completion can be accelerated directly to Phase III if performing at an acceptable level. By skipping Phase II and shortening the program by four weeks, qualified officers with previous experience may be assigned as one-person units more rapidly.