I was recently in Denver conducting an audit of the Colorado version of MCOLES. I did this as part of my role with the International Association of Director’s of Law Enforcement Standards and Training (IADLEST). Essentially it is an association of my counterparts across the country and internationally as well. Other membership includes police academy directors and law enforcement trainers. My goal is to bring IADLEST to Michigan for an audit to see how we stack up across the country in all aspects of what we do.
I know there is criticism in the profession about having national standards for police. It is understandable as we pride ourselves on local control and resist the federalization of police. I don’t disagree with local control and feel that local governments can determine best the type of services that they want and can afford. That doesn’t mean, however, that we cannot have some basic training standards across the profession as other professions do.
What I observed in Denver, as I have in many other states, are similar training and operating standards. My point is that we already have many of these standards in place in our basic training. As an example, I was observing a subject control class at the Aurora Police Academy whereby the recruits were practicing ground fighting techniques. Ground fighting has taken the place of the traditional boxing and other subject control classes. This is logical as most of the physical encounters end up on the ground. In 1980 I was trained in boxing but had already received ground fighting techniques in the Army which assisted me in the field more than boxing. Over the years law enforcement has learned and changed to new and better techniques.
So my point is that we already have national standards to a certain degree. Why be so fearful of it and not take it to the next level? While in Washington DC attending a summit on the 21st Century Policing task force report, I suggested to the COPS organization that a nationwide Job Task Analysis should be conducted as we already do state by state. This would give the profession a basic level of tasks that a police officer conducts all across our nation. Thus some nationwide basic standards could be developed. Basically a set of best training practices could be developed and shared across the entire profession. This would make reciprocity agreements by states accepting other states training easier and allow officers to transfer if they so desire. Ultimately the public we serve will receive similar services regardless of the location which is something they already expect.