Police Training Task Force Submits Report

December 15, 2017

The work of the task force may have been concluded, but in many ways the conversation is just beginning. This will be a work in progress as various stakeholders continue to work together on police training issues. As Chairman of the Public Safety and Security Committee, I am very pleased with the work of all the members. It was a good example of everyone working together in a constructive and meaningful way.

The report, created pursuant to Special Act 16-13, is the work of a task force to study the training curriculum and education of police officers in Connecticut relative to recognized best practices.

(From SA 16-13 Executive Summary)

Beginning in 2014, the Connecticut General Assembly passed legislation requiring police training to incorporate policies related to individuals affected with serious mental issues; use of physical force; body worn equipment; cultural competency and sensitivity training; complaints from the public; and the use of electronic defense weapons.

As a result of the ongoing changes to police training, coupled with the desire to address discord between police and minority communities, a proposal was considered to independently examine police training and education and summarize pertinent information for the Public Safety and Security Committee.

The task force was mandated to examine current basic curriculum and practices, instruction and delivery of the basic curriculum, feasibility and desirability of offering training at satellite campuses, and other topics deemed appropriate to police training.

Findings and Recommendations

The issue of police and community relations remains as relevant today as it did nearly two years ago, when the Task Force to Study the Curriculum and Education of Police Officers was established per Connecticut law. Through a series of presentations and discussions, the Task Force was able to gather information on potential means by which Connecticut could continue to make strides in strengthening community policing and trust among law enforcement officers and the communities they serve through the police training policy reform. Though the Task Force’s approach was not exhaustive, it provides a baseline by which further exploration and recommendations can be made.

Based on its work to date, the Task Force issues the following list of recommendations to be considered:

III.A: Task Force Co-Chairs’ Recommendations

Although the Task Force was not able to discuss the presentations in detail as to how each pertain to the purview of the Task Force, the Co-chairs believe the following recommendations are consistent with the themes and substance of the presentations and subsequent discussions relative to the Task Force goals:

The discussion about the state’s police training model and curriculum and its effectiveness in achieving identified, and agreed upon, goals and objectives should continue. However, there was not sufficient community involvement in the process in order to adequately address public investment in the process. It is, therefore, recommended the Public Safety and Security Committee consider whether to statutorily re-authorize the Task Force to Study the Curriculum and Training of Police or to establish another entity to continue the work of the task force and, in doing so, ensure greater community involvement.

There were a number of compelling presentations that either directly or indirectly referenced recommendations contained within the President’s Task Force on 21st Century Policing final report. These recommendations are based on recognized best practices, which could be corroborated through independent exploration as to their efficacy within Connecticut. In continuing exploration into police training education and curriculum in Connecticut, the President’s Task Force on 21st Century Policing should be considered as a framework for discussion.

As per the President’s Task Force on 21st Century Policing final report:

Connecticut should consider adopting adult-based learning and scenario-based training in a training environment modeled less like a boot camp. It is recommended a study be conducted to evaluate the effectiveness and efficiency of the current stress-based military style training model to train police recruits used in Connecticut.

Connecticut should provide leadership training to all personnel throughout their careers. It is recommended that POST-C adopt a state-wide mandatory training policy of newly promoted civil service supervisory officers, including the ranks of sergeant, lieutenant and captain. The training standards shall include course work and field training requirements.

Connecticut should develop learning goals and model curricula/training for each level of leadership. Additionally, in accordance to the report’s recommendation, these standards should influence requirements for promotion and continuing/ongoing education should be required to maintain leadership positions. As part of this process, it is recommended that POST-C adopt a model state-wide performance evaluation standards for all ranks.

Connecticut should ensure basic officer training includes lessons to improve social interaction as well as tactical skills. Additionally, in accordance to the report’s recommendation, these standards should include topics such as critical thinking, social intelligence, implicit bias, fair and impartial policing, historical trauma and de-escalation and tactical retreat skills. As part of this process, it is recommended that POST-C publicly provide detailed information, including curricula and training certification requirements, on any established De-escalation training component in the POST-C curriculum.