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U.S. Department of Justice
Office of Community Oriented Policing Services

145 N Street, N.E.
Washington, DC 20530

April 2019 | Volume 12 | Issue 3

Beginning this spring, your organization can participate in a nationwide, COPS Office–funded Instructor Development Program (IDP) on Community Policing developed by the Virginia Center for Policing Innovation (VCPI). The goal of this initiative is to increase the capacity of law enforcement professionals and their community partners to engage in community policing on an unprecedented national scale. The cornerstone of the initiative is a 2.5-day, tuition-free train-the-trainer course titled Community Policing – Improving Police Efficacy and Building Trust which provides law enforcement instructors with complete curriculum resources, including comprehensive lesson plans and presentation materials.

Between May 2019 and August 2020, the COPS Office and VCPI will deliver the IDP in twelve localities throughout the U.S., with each session preparing up to 50 local law enforcement trainers to deliver the content within their own organizations and communities. To implement this program, the COPS Office and VCPI are looking for law enforcement agencies throughout the country to help us host training events and act as local experts and partners in advancing community policing. Organizations interested in applying to serve as one of the twelve local training hosts can find full details on the VCPI Call For Hosts web page.

Meeting a local need and serving the nation’s law enforcement community

In 2017, the COPS Office sponsored VCPI to develop and pilot a contemporary community policing curriculum. The project was in response to a technical assistance request from the Newark (New Jersey) Police Department (NPD), which was looking for a comprehensive training curriculum that could be used by its training staff and implemented department-wide for approximately 1,000 officers.

The NPD’s request for assistance echoed that of other law enforcement leaders throughout the country, who sought contemporary training content they could use in-house to reinvigorate and support the merits of community policing among their officers and community partners. Recognizing this, the COPS Office and VCPI were committed to working closely with NPD leaders and training staff to design a core curriculum and instructor development program that not only met NPD’s immediate needs to prepare its instructors, but also could be used by other organizations facing similar challenges throughout the United States. 

Behind the scenes of the IDP curriculum development process

To build a curriculum that is nationally applicable in scope and still locally relevant, the COPS Office and VCPI’s content development and design processes focused on delivering a thoroughly researched, modularly structured training curriculum that adheres to adult learning principles, uses blended learning strategies, and follows the Planning, Analysis, Design, Development, Implementation, and Evaluation (PADDIE) model of Instructional Systems Design (ISD). The content itself is structured using a scaffold approach, encouraging participants to progress from awareness of concepts through application of learning. The training combines participant exploration, discovery, and application to enhance efforts to improve police efficacy and trust through community policing.

Over a period of about six months during the original award, the curriculum underwent multiple rounds of review and feedback with NPD administrative staff and COPS Office leadership, as well as a formal external peer review, DOJ vetting processes, and final editing prior to piloting and publication. The result of these rigorous processes is the Community Policing: Improving Police Efficacy and Building Trust core curriculum, designed for direct dissemination to law enforcement practitioners, criminal justice and public safety professionals, and community stakeholders. As an IDP, it consists of both the core curriculum and additional instructional resources designed to prepare instructors to deliver the core curriculum in an efficient, consistent, and measurable manner. The IDP content is geared toward law enforcement trainers, criminal justice and public safety professionals, and appropriate stakeholders with experience in both instruction and implementing community policing initiatives.

Piloting and finalizing the curriculum for delivery

The COPS Office and VCPI piloted the IDP with thirty-one NPD participants. These participants provided valuable feedback to the curriculum development team and brainstormed ways they could use the core curriculum as a foundation and infuse it with their own original content, specific to their unique, local needs. The pilot participants ranged from seasoned command staff to new line officers; all were specifically selected by NPD for their leadership excellence and instructional experience, as they would be tasked with the important job of implementing the department-wide training initiative—a task that could impact the overall culture and trajectory of the organization.

Following the pilot, the COPS Office and VCPI made final content revisions to ensure that the materials met the needs of the NPD and the programmatic requirements of the award which funded its development. The final materials delivered to the NPD included a comprehensive instructor manual, participant guide, training exercises, and an interactive PowerPoint packet. For several months following the pilot, the NPD training staff worked closely together, customizing the course and preparing its own instructor cadre to team-teach the content before rolling it out. As of the end of 2018, NPD instructors have successfully provided the training to all officers throughout the city and to many community partners.

Since finalizing the materials, the COPS Office and VCPI have provided the core curriculum training and instructor development components to personnel and instructors with the Memphis (Tennessee) Police Department, the University of Tennessee Health and Science Center Police Department, the North Charleston (South Carolina) Police Department, the Commerce City (Colorado) Police Department, and the Fort Pierce (Florida) Police Department.

About the IDP content

Community policing has been a driving force in law enforcement for decades, but this training is designed with today’s complex challenges in mind. The course includes an examination of the current state of policing—both locally and nationally—addressing the current and emerging issues that challenge the effectiveness of law enforcement agencies and the well-being of the communities they serve. Course learning objectives include identifying current and emerging challenges in policing; applying the principles of community policing to daily work in order to advance public safety with greater efficiency and with less risk to officers and the communities they serve; and developing strategies for sustaining improvements to their departments in an effort to view each challenge as an opportunity for change. 

The curriculum’s flexible design allows participating instructors to take the core content back to their organizations, customize it according to their specific needs, and train law enforcement and local leaders to implement community policing in their communities.

To learn more about hosting or participating in an IDP training event, please visit the VCPI Call For Hosts web page, email VCPI Program Manager David Gardner, or call him at 804-644-0679.

Melissa Bradley
Senior Policy Analyst, COPS Office

Sheila Gunderman
Director of Programs
Virginia Center for Policing Innovation (VCPI)

For more information:
The COPS Office Training Portal
The COPS Office Training Site

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