Developing Communications Skills for 21st Century Policing: Evaluating the LAPD Academy’s New Recruit Basic Course
To effectively "serve and protect" citizens of Los Angeles in the 21st Century, the Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) recognized the need to train police officers in tactical and interpersonal skills that reflected a community-policing model. This decision was influenced by findings of several studies that were initiated in response to the 1991 Rodney King beating incident, where LAPD officers were found to engage in ethnic discrimination and excessive use of force. In 2007, LAPD leadership redesigned the LAPD Academy Recruit Basic Course (RBC) by adopting a problem-solving focused, scenario-based curriculum that integrated tactical and communication skills within the CAPRA community-policing model. An exploratory, mixed qualitative-quantitative method was used to evaluate recruits' (P1s') ability to generalize their communications skills training in the field during the first four weeks after graduating from the redesigned RBC. Field Training Officer (FTO) responses to in-depth interviews were evaluated regarding P1s' ability to adapt when communicating with different kinds of people, their ability to address conflict, and ratings of P1s communication skills as compared to recruits trained under the old curriculum. FTO survey evaluations of P1s' communication skills were examined and compared to P1s' demographic characteristics. Results suggested that P1s were able to adapt when communicating with different kinds of people, they were able to effectively address conflict, and they were able to generalize their communication skills in the field regardless of demographic differences. Implications for police recruit training are discussed.
Putman, Katherine Meese
Los Angeles, Police Department, Police recruits, Police training, Communication in law enforcement
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