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U.S. Department of Justice
Office of Community Oriented Policing Services
Up-to-date and ongoing training is necessary not only to ensure officer and community safety but also to maintain community trust and increase officer and agency professional practice. However, cuts to law enforcement agencies’ budgets significantly reduce the availability of funds to support staffing and training. When an agency’s budget is reduced, often training is the first thing cut.
In a study conducted in 2018 by Power DMS in collaboration with the National Police Foundation, law enforcement leaders from departments across the country ranging in size and demographics were surveyed to gauge the current state of policy and training. Eighty percent of respondents reported an increased need for training, but only 34 percent felt they currently have the budget needed to accommodate necessary training.
In addition, a lack of personnel can limit departments’ ability to send officers to classroom-based training. Smaller departments, particularly in rural and underserved areas, feel the pinch the most. The smaller the department, the less scheduling flexibility there is, and the more remote the location, the costlier and more time consuming it is to travel to in-person training.
Since its inception in 1994, the COPS Office has taken significant strides toward addressing barriers in recruiting, hiring, training, and retaining officers while also promoting the effective implementation of community policing practices. In recent years, many online courses and other distance learning opportunities have been developed or are currently being developed with COPS Office funds to expand access to training. The 2018 Power DMS study referenced earlier found 88 percent of responding agencies planned to use online training as one of the methods for building an impactful training program.
The COPS Office Training Portal exists to directly support law enforcement training efforts by providing access to high quality, interactive, and no-cost online training modules developed by organizations recognized for their leadership in public safety training.
The COPS Office Training Portal reaches a national audience 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Rural and underserved areas that face greater difficulty accessing training benefit from improved access to training and tools, allowing their officers to gain critical techniques and strategies to assist them in their roles.
The training portal modules are self-paced, which allows law enforcement personnel, first responders, and community stakeholders the ability to complete training between other duties at work, at home, or in a combination of locations. Because the modules have an adjustable pace, students can replay training segments if needed and complete the module in sections rather than being required to complete the entire training in one sitting. This allows supervisors to balance workload demands and staffing needs with training objectives.
New training is being added to the COPS Office Training Portal on a regular basis. A new training series developed in partnership with the National Criminal Justice Training Center (NCJTC) of Fox Valley Technical College and focused on drug identification and recognition is now available in the COPS Office Training Portal.
This training series focuses on the opioid crisis, and a flood of other drugs has reached epidemic proportion in many of our communities. These modules will look at this national challenge and other emerging drug trends such as fentanyl, heroin, cocaine, methamphetamines, synthetic cannabinoids, hallucinogens, and other chemicals. Consider how particular drugs are designed and why the designs of these drugs are so popular. Gain an understanding of the stages of use, addiction, withdrawal symptoms, and the health and life-threatening dangers posed from the use of these drugs. Discuss common delivery systems and observe examples of emerging drugs in various forms. Learn how to recognize the signs and symptoms of drug use as well as how naloxone/NARCAN works in cases of opioid overdoses. The individual module descriptions and course pages to access these modules in the COPS Office Training Portal are as follows:
Gain an overview of the chemical and legal classification of opioids. Examine this national problem and what you need to know when responding to opioid-related events. Topics include symptoms of opioid withdrawal, dangers associated with fentanyl, and commonly abused prescription opiate drugs. Community response and other evidence-based practices are also discussed.
Explore and identify the various types of commonly used stimulants such as pharmaceutical stimulants, cocaine, methamphetamine, and natural stimulants. Learn how to employ the appropriate actions and safety measures when responding to stimulant-related law enforcement request.
Discuss the current trends, side effects, and physiological conditions of commonly abused depressants, inhalants, sedatives, and antidepressants. Topics include muscle relaxers, gamma-hydroxybutyrate (GHB), solvents, interactions with alcohol, and the growing use among younger populations.
A two-part course on hallucinogens will be added to this series later in 2021.
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