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Police Academy Training: Comparing Across Curricula

NCJ Number
Policing Volume: 31 Issue: 1 Dated: 2008 Pages: 36-56
Allison T. Chappell
Date Published
21 pages
This study compared the academy performance of police recruits trained in a traditional curriculum with that of recruits trained under a new curriculum tailored to community-policing tasks; and it also compared the characteristics of recruits who performed better under the community-policing curriculum with those who performed better under the traditional curriculum.
The study found that recruits in both curricula performed similarly in terms of their mastery of the material; however, the recruits who performed better in the community-policing curriculum were more highly educated and female. The study examined recruit characteristics and performance in Florida's Police Academy under a traditional curriculum that emphasized preparation for law enforcement tasks, such as firearms training, physical training, defensive tactics, and driving, in addition to knowledge areas such as law, arrest procedures, traffic enforcement, and officer safety. Little attention was given to communications, cultural and ethnic diversity, problem solving, and police-community relations. The academy subsequently modified its curriculum to reflect the police tasks emphasized under community policing, which focus on greater police communication, interaction, and cooperation with the community in forging community-based priorities and practices in crime prevention and crime control. The community-policing curriculum focused on the application of learning rather than memorization, the use of a problem solving model throughout the academy, and the use of scenarios as the basis for learning. During data collection, the researcher spent over 100 hours observing academy instruction under both traditional and community-policing curricula. Quantitative data were obtained on 300 recruits in the academy, 155 of whom participated in the traditional curriculum and 145 of whom were trained under the community-policing curriculum. This included all recruits cleared to enter the Basic Recruit Curriculum from 1998 through 2004. This included four classes under the traditional curriculum and three classes under the community-policing curriculum. 4 tables, 5 notes, and 62 references