Sworn law enforcement officers generally receive training throughout their careers, beginning with basic training for entry-level recruits, followed by in-service training. Basic law enforcement training academies are operated by state-level organizations such as—
- Peace Officer Standards and Training (POST) entities
- state police or highway patrols
- local law enforcement agencies such as sheriff’s offices and county or municipal police departments
- and academic institutions such as 2- and 4-year colleges.
BJS surveys basic law enforcement training academies in its Census of Law Enforcement Training Academies (CLETA), which collects data from all state and local academies that provided basic training for newly hired or appointed law enforcement officers. In addition to general characteristics about academies, CLETA collects information on recruits, personnel, facilities, resources, core subjects, and special topics curricula of basic training.
As part of its surveys of law enforcement agencies, particularly its Law Enforcement Management and Administrative Statistics (LEMAS) survey, BJS collects data on the amount of annual in-service training required of sworn personnel.
About three-quarters (75%) of training academies had a minimum law enforcement experience requirement for full-time instructors. Among academies with a minimum experience requirement, the average was about 4 years. Overall, 34% of the academies required their full-time instructors to have an academic degree. Nearly all (98%) academies required their full-time instructors to be certified. Eighty percent of academies required full-time trainers to have a state-level certification, and 59% required certification as a subject-matter expert. A less common requirement was certification by the academy (32%).
About 6 in 7 recruits completed their basic training program and graduated from the academy.
The 2006 BJS Census of Law Enforcement Training Academies found that training programs for basic recruits lasted an average of 19 weeks, excluding field training. Topics with the most instruction time included firearms (a median of 60 hours), self-defense (51 hours), health and fitness (46 hours), patrol procedures (40 hours), investigations (40 hours), emergency vehicle operations (40 hours), criminal law (36 hours), and basic first aid (24 hours).