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November 27, 2023 4 min read

New Survey Reveals Officer Perspectives on Training and Staffing

Industry:

Law EnforcementPublic Safety

Solution:

Vector LMSVector Scheduling

As sentiments regarding the state of law enforcement continue to change, the day-to-day realities of the job will also evolve. To get a better understanding of the perspectives of today’s officers, Vector Solutions recently surveyed more than 600 current public safety professionals from around the country.

Current data shows that law enforcement agencies continue to lose more officers than they hire, and that total sworn staffing has continued to decline. How is this impacting overall operations at agencies, big and small? Legislation amending training requirements continues to be passed and the public’s scrutiny of training practices and conduct is heightened, but do officers have similar concerns regarding the training they receive? Programs addressing mental health concerns are gaining steam, but are officers always getting the help they need?

Below, we share a collection of findings from the survey that address those questions.

Law Enforcement Training is a Complex Challenge

Where an officer works dramatically impacts their training experience. States have differing standards for academy and in-service training, and agencies may simply meet requirements or go above and beyond.

However, with law enforcement training now getting a spotlight on the national stage, officers and agencies alike are increasingly evaluating their current and future training efforts.

As part of the survey, officers were asked to rate their level of satisfaction with their training. A majority responded that they were satisfied with the initial (93%) and ongoing (72%) training they received. Respondents were also asked about the frequency of training, with a majority (59%) being satisfied. However, of those that were unsatisfied, 25% said they spend too little time and 14% feel they spend too much time on training.

Of those that said they spend too little time training, 67% said they feel training is only done as a formality. Of those that said they spend too much time, 80% said that the training they receive is not effective.

56% of respondents also indicated that there are unmet needs in the training programs at their agencies, with 56% of those saying they would like to undergo communication training and 55% saying they would like to undergo mental health training.

While providing additional training and shoring up gaps is easier said than done, the benefits cannot be overstated.

Where do Officers Stand on Law Enforcement Staffing?

As part of the survey, officers were asked about obstacles they face in job preparedness. Staffing shortages ranked highest (69%), followed by low morale (52%) and equipment concerns (36%).

As is often the case, challenges compound on each other and that was also indicated by the respondents, with 78% saying that staffing shortages have negatively impacted the morale at their agency. 61% also said that low staffing levels at their agency has had a negative impact on their own mental health.

Agencies and academies are doing what they can to combat this problem and hiring efforts have increased in comparison to the last several years, but officers are still struggling with the mental impacts of staffing shortages and other health concerns.

Of respondents, 75% indicated they worry about how the job impacts their mental health. Attitudes regarding mental health have certainly changed amongst law enforcement officers in comparison to times past, with 92% of respondents indicating mental health is of critical importance and 75% saying their agencies offer mental health training or support. However, despite these strides forward, half of the officers who responded to the survey said they have considered leaving the job because of a lack of well-being support.

In those situations when an officer does choose to leave law enforcement due to mental or physical health concerns, it only furthers law enforcement staffing shortages. Agencies can compensate with digital tools that alleviate the administrative burden of these complex scheduling needs, and by providing resources and mental wellness support to turn the tide and boost retention.

Additional Insights from Vector Solutions

When utilized effectively, officer feedback can be a major asset when tackling today’s law enforcement challenges and when selecting the right tools and strategies to train, prepare, and retain your officers.

Download the full report for additional insights into the state of preparedness amongst law enforcement agencies across the country.

Download Report

The State of First Responder Preparedness

Vector Solutions’ suite of industry-leading software solutions for law enforcement also includes online training courses, FTO/PTO/CTO/live skill evaluations, academy automation, equipment and inventory management, and an early intervention and conduct management system.

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