As hundreds of police officers are losing their jobs, USA Today cites another disturbing casualty of the financial downturn: basic training. Nearly 70 percent of police agencies cut back or eliminated training programs this year as part of local government budget reductions, says a new survey of 608 agencies by the Police Executive Research Forum, a Washington-based think tank. The cuts include a wide range of programs, from ethics and basic legal training to instruction on the proper use of force.
Harvey Hedden of the International Law Enforcement Educators and Trainers Association says the cuts are “alarming.” Tulsa Police Chief Chuck Jordan says his department’s entire in-service training program was shuttered for a year, beginning in June 2009. The shutdown interrupted crucial crime-scene investigation training and weapons instruction. Daytona Beach, Fl., Police Chief Michael Chitwood says his department’s entire $200,000 training budget was wiped out this year because of municipal service reductions. Philadelphia Police Commissioner Charles Ramsey refuses to curtail training because there is too much at stake. “When you cut back on training, officers are sued and fired. I learned a hard lesson from that,” Ramsey says, referring to incidents during his previous stint as chief in Washington, D.C. “We’re doing everything we can to avoid that.”