When something is said to be evidence-based, it means it is based on the findings of the best available research. Unfortunately, conventional law enforcement training courses often fail to meet that standard. One need only look at the typical block and silo training pervasive in most basic police academies or the multitude of “Death by Power Point” training courses that officers attend to recognize the issue: the law enforcement profession as a whole has yet to embrace evidence-based training practices.
The Savage Training Group remains committed to incorporating the best available research into our training courses. Why invest time and money into studying science and research? The simple answer is law enforcement officers deserve the best possible training, so they are prepared to deliver the best service to the public. As opposed to relying on “that’s the way we’ve always done it”, the law enforcement institution must evolve. But as the call for police reform continues, we must be careful that any training we are providing to officers is sound and well researched. Renee Mitchell, President of the American Society of Evidence-Based Policing, noted in her popular TED Talk encouraging the policing institution to embrace science that politicians, the police and the public must all look to the science instead of relying on things like intuition, tradition or custom.
Where no scientific research exists, we look to other sources of information to help guide our course design and refine our presentations. We interview experts in the field, review industry texts and periodicals and work with professionals from a wide variety of domains. Our course designers and instructors have interviewed experts who span the gamut, from authors and professors to justice advocates and medical professionals. We often ask them to review our materials and provide guidance. We also work with other trainers and law enforcement officers from all over the world, seeking to learn from their unique perspectives.
Our Field Training Officer and Field Training Officer Update courses are good examples of how we have incorporated the modern science of teaching and learning into a law enforcement training course. Our instructors use interleaving, spaced retrieval and desirable difficulty methods as recommended in well-researched texts such as Make It Stick: The Science of Successful Learning by Mark A. McDaniel and Peter C Brown.
Our Interview and “Interrogation” training course has disrupted the conventional. We accomplished that by embracing the volumes of research that have scientifically proven that conventional accusatory, guilt-presumptive interrogation has led to miscarriages of justice. Our course designers worked with professionals from both within and outside the United States to design our curriculum. Our modern Interview and “Interrogation” training course follows the key recommendations made by experts in the field such as Dr. Richard Leo, author of such important work as Police Interrogation and American Justice.
Law enforcement agencies would be well served to take a hard look at the training courses they send their personnel to attend. Those courses should be vetted to ensure they are credible and up to date. As society continues to place added scrutiny upon the law enforcement profession, so too should law enforcement trainers scrutinize their curriculum and delivery methods and always strive to evolve.