OSS Academy featured on ILEETA E-Bulletin

By Jim Smith, ILEETA e-Bulletin | Wed, 9 Apr 2014

Choosing an Online Law Enforcement Training Program

Our world is rapidly changing, and so is law enforcement training.  There seems to be little dispute over the fact that the last of the Baby Boomers are retiring from active law enforcement. The boomer’s world was not consumed by a rapid growth of technology, and some were reluctant to accept the PC or the MAC, emails and Smart Phones.  The Boomers generation (1946-1964) grew upon rotary phones, one on one conversation and three ring binders with tabs.  Things began to change for the next generation of police officer the Generation “X” (1965-1980) whose technology was the bag phone and pagers and the TRS-80 PC.  The current generation of police officer, Generation “Y” has grown up on technology, which comes natural to them like the World Wide Web, e-mail, smart phones, tablets and of course texting, a lot of texting.(1)

Boomers go into the Library and ask where the card catalogue is, Generation ”X ers” go into the library and ask someone to find it for them, while Gen “Y ers“ as why use library, just Google it.  Overhead Projectors, 35MM Slides and sheets of acetone have given way to digital files.  We shop, entertain ourselves, and run our household appliances from our smart phones.  Traditional “Brick and Mortar” classrooms are giving way to On-Line Learning.  Can an all-digital Law Enforcement Recruit Training be far behind?

The law enforcement profession itself is changing and changing rapidly, identity theft and other online digital crimes have become the fastest growing types of crime, creating a paradigm shift has changed law enforcement from local in scope to global in scope.  At the same time the World Wide Web has created new opportunities in Law enforcement training for private training vendors, who have created a myriad of online training programs.  However Caveat Emptor, Let the buyer beware!  Online programs can be tricky and essentially not worth your time or effort.

Every state in the United States has a state agency designed to regulate law enforcement training requirements and how individuals must be trained.  In some states academies are accredited by those agencies while other may certify their state’s training law enforcement officers.  Those agencies may also differentiate between the training of police recruits and in-service training.  The point here is the fact that online training has yet to have strong standards, while not all online training vendors are unscrupulous, some maybe.  So do your homework and don’t lose valuable training dollars to an glitzy website that uses the words certified, or accredited, unless you know who is the accrediting or certifying agency is.

There are many online training providers that provide great training programs, but are not certified or accredited that may be very desirable to your agency so shop wisely.  One such example is that of OSS – Law Enforcement Advisors®.  A private vendor located in Spring, Texas, who was approved by The Texas Commission on Law Enforcement Officer Standards and Education (TCLEOSE) in the fall off 2012, as a contractual training provider.

The OSS Academy® located on the web at www.policetrainingcenter.com.  On this website, the OSS training providers clearly establish their training objectives stating:

Working with our strategic partner, Essential Learning, OSS Academy® provides the largest selection of quality online training courses for emergency responders anywhere.  This includes critical law enforcement, corrections, security, and 911 telecommunications training.  Our adult based learning programs are interactive, and are in use by professional entities across the US.(2)

Websites offering online law enforcement training clearly establish several major points that a department administrator or training officer should consider in their decision making process when deciding an online digital training.  Using the Using The OSS Academy® as an example:

  1. Is this training court defensible and/or approved by a governmental agency? The OSS Academy® has the approval of TCLEOSE (The State of Texas)
  2. What philosophy of training is the training built upon? The OSS Academy®  clearly states Our adult based learning programs are interactive.
  3. What agencies are using this vendor or have used this vendor? Again, The OSS Academy® website clearly states; our adult based learning programs are interactive, and are in use by professional entities across the US.
  4. Whose software is this training running on? Again, The OSS Academy® states they work with a strategic partner Essential Learning.

This article is not meant to be an endorsement of the services provided the OSS Academy®, but only that they serve to illustrate what should come from a private online training vendor.  Giving a sound example of how a department administrator or training officer can navigate the digital minefields these exploding technologies are creating.  The OSS Academy® along with others are emerging as the leaders in Digital Law enforcement Training.

Using these four basic questions a department administrator or training officer can begin to formulate their own online training programs, which meet their individualized training needs.  They should understand that online or digital law enforcement training has many different definitions, as the Excelsior College website points out, “Online learning has various definitions, but an essential component for all is the use of computing and telecommunication technologies to deliver and receive course materials”.(3)

Online learning is gaining acceptance rapidly, to what extend it will grow in popularity is pure speculation at this point. For example, the State of Indiana, Indiana Law Enforcement Academy, a public entity authorizes private vendors in their state; however they make clear on their website several points as quoted below from their website.

This page is a resource to access Training Providers that are private companies or agencies that are NOT registered with the LETB as certified training providers. This resource is here to help Indiana Law Enforcement Officers find online training that can be reported as part of their annual in-service training requirement.(4)

That statement is followed by 8 points specific to Indiana Training regarding online providers, the first point being generically applicable in any state, when investigating online training for a law enforcement agency, it reads as follows: “Before beginning any online course from a NON-LETB provider we recommend that you verify that the course is of suitable subject matter and content for annual in-service training with your Department’s LETB Certified Instructor”.(5)

Again, Caveat Emptor, let the buyer beware, make every training dollar you have, count by doing some simply research.  Find out if the training contemplated is court defensible and/or approved by a governmental agency.  Determine what philosophy of training the particular training you require is based upon.  Find out what agencies are using this vendor or have used this vendor, then contact them and ask questions.  Finally ask whose software is this training running on, all online training similar but not necessarily the same.  Online training is exploding into a very lucrative business make sure that you seek the advice of your information technology (IT) professional about the technology utilized in delivering your online training.

These four rules are not exclusive, use them, or add to them, but take the time to make sure that the online training you choose fits your needs and the standards your department maintains.

(1) Mixing and Matching Four Generations of Workers, G. Hamilton, FDU Magazine On-Line, ( 2005)  Retrieved From http://www.fdu.edu/newspubs/magazine/05ws/generations.htm, 05/30/2013
(2) Learn Online Law Enforcement Jail and Security Course, OSS Academy
® (2012) Retrieved From http://www.policetrainingcenter.com/ 05/30/2013
(3) What is Online Learning, Student Online success Guide, Excelsior College, (2013) Retrieved From https://www.excelsior.edu/web/student-online-success-guide/online-learning  05/31/2013
(4) NON-LETB Training Providers of online training,  Indiana Law Enforcement Academy, (2013), State of Indiana Retrieved from http://www.in.gov/ilea/2474.htm 06/03/2013
(5) Ibid


About the Author: Jim Smith is a 40 year law enforcement veteran, 30 year trainer, a charter ILEETA member, an ILEETA Advisory Board Member, currently working as a Railroad Police Special Agent. He holds a Bachelor’s Degree from the State University of New York and a Master’s Degree from American Military University.