Police Officer Training Program
When a new recruit is hired by the Fargo Police Department, he or she must successfully complete the 17-week Police Training Officer (PTO) Program. While in the PTO program, the recruit rides with a PTO trainer who helps the recruit learn the procedures and policies of the Department. The PTO also helps the recruit officer apply knowledge obtained in the police academy.
The PTO Approach
The Fargo Police Department has used the PTO model since 2003. The program differs from the traditional FTO program in that it focuses less on evaluating the recruit officer and focuses more on developing the officer’s problem-solving skills through problem-based learning. In the process, the officer develops the ability to deal with most situations encountered on the job. Recruit officers discover and utilize resources within the community and the Department to help solve those problems. The PTO program also uses mistakes made by the recruit as a learning opportunity.
While in the PTO program, the recruit is required every day to self-evaluate his or her own performance. The recruit must also take an active role in learning by coming up with action plans to improve performance when needed. All recruits are expected to be able to apply what they have learned in the police academy and in the PTO program.
Half way through the program, each recruit must successfully pass a one-week evaluation. During this evaluation, the recruit works with a PTO evaluator who assesses the officer’s performance. At the conclusion of the mid-term evaluation, a Board of Evaluators (BOE) reviews the recruit’s progress and makes a recommendation to the PTO administrators. The Board of Evaluators also ensures the PTO training team uses sound and appropriate training methods.
At the end of the PTO program, each recruit must pass a two-week final evaluation. The recruit again works with a PTO evaluator, and the BOE decides if the recruit has successfully completed the program. A recruit may have his or her training extended if necessary. The ultimate goal of the program is to teach recruits the complexities of being a Police Officer and equip them to successfully work without a trainer.
In 2011, the PTO team had over 6500 training hours, with 8 recruits successfully passing the program.
The PTO program is very challenging and requires recruits to perform at their best every day. The expectations are also high for the PTO trainers. There are currently 20 PTOs, and each of them was selected based on several factors such as work ethic, knowledge, professionalism, and past work performance. Once selected, each PTO must successfully complete a training that teaches them the different aspects of the program. Their suitability to train other officers is also constantly evaluated.
For more information about the PTO program, please contact Sgt. Chris Helmick or Sgt. Travis Stefonowicz.