May 31, 2023 6 min read
El Paso County SO Academy Retires Scantrons and Spreadsheets for an Automated Academy Management System
Saving “uncountable” hours of manual administration across training record keeping, registration, communication, feedback, and reporting with the Acadis academy management system.
In the post-George Floyd era, further complicated by a global pandemic, staffing shortages quickly became the number one issue in public safety. Consequently, many hiring and funding initiatives followed. While the profession is still suffering from officer shortages, law enforcement agencies and academies are starting to see a rebound in numbers.
A June 2021 Police Executive Research Forum (PERF) report on “Police Workforce Trends” shows that from April 2020 to March 2021, resignations rose by 18% and retirements increased by 45%. Additionally, there was a 36% reduction in the hiring rate for agencies with 500 or more officers over the same period.
El Paso County is the most populous county in Colorado with a population of approximately 750,000, which means there are a lot of people to protect and serve. The El Paso County Sheriff’s Office (SO) runs its own basic training academy and also provides in-service training three to four times a year for its 550 sworn personnel, in addition to annual training for its 300 civilian employees.
Prior to implementing Acadis, El Paso County SO was using an antiquated system, as well as spreadsheets and paper-based processes that included scanned PDFs of rosters to track attendance, scantron and bubble sheets for testing, and other manual processes. When asked for training records or to confirm whether an officer attended a specific training, they would have to manually sift through paper files to compile the information. The El Paso County SO Academy Director said, “When an officer leaves and wants their training records, or when we get an open records request, we would dig through paper files and scan them for the requestor. We typically get 2-6 such requests each month so this can add up.”
The El Paso County SO basic academy class includes 14 tests and three quizzes for each of the 30-50 recruits during the 24-week period, so the amount of time to manually grade and compile all the results was also a big time investment.
El Paso County SO implemented Acadis in 2020. “Acadis will do whatever you want it to do,” said the Academy Director, “You just have to take the time to set it up.” While the biggest value and time savings of leveraging the Acadis system to help manage the academy has been in scheduling and online testing, the Director also cited several other areas of improvement.
“Now, when someone asks, ‘how many hours did an officer train on a particular topic,’” explained the Academy Director, “we can report exactly how many hours were spent training and break it down by topic and by officer.” In a recent case, the Director said he received 12 training records requests and was able to send the information over to the lawyers in less than an hour. In the past the process would have taken about two days.
Acadis has been very well received by the El Paso County SO staff and the Director has trained all his training (first line) supervisors to enter their own training. For example, they can enter their 10-minute roll call training in just a couple minutes and can include resources such as PPTs and lesson plans. “All of our special units, including SWAT, mounted, investigators, and K-9 units are using Acadis for their training,” said the Director. “It has been massive for them.”
“Automating all the testing has saved us an immense amount of time. We are amazed at how well testing works for us.”
Other improvements that the Acadis training management system has delivered include:
Class titles, topics, and the number of training hours are all tracked in Acadis and the Compliance Module enables leaders to see exactly how many hours each person has taken in the required areas and who still needs to fulfill requirements.
From basic to annual in-service to roll call training—including online, in-person briefings, classroom, and skills evaluations—all information is in one place and easily accessible to ensure officers meet standards and complete training; leaders can also access comprehensive training records to quickly respond to training records requests.
All personnel can log into Acadis to see training information and register for classes or cancel if they cannot make one that they registered for.
Acadis LMS delivers online voice-over-PPT trainings for pre-learning prior to skills training and to help fulfill training requirements without pulling people out of the field or office.
Personnel can access their own training records and history without having to ask the academy for that information.
All weapons, body armor, body cams, etc. are tracked in the Acadis Inventory Module to easily track high-value equipment.
Acadis automated email reminders with training details are sent to instructors and students a week prior to the training event to ensure everyone is aligned.
The Acadis color-coded class schedule provides at-a-glance views for leaders to know if the recruits will be at the range, in the building, or elsewhere.
Acadis automated surveys and easy test question analysis provide valuable feedback for continuous training improvement.
“In a recent case, the Director said he received 12 requests and was able to send the information over to the lawyers in less than an hour. In the past the process would have taken about two days.”