Trainers and Instructors
The Santa Rosa Police Department has an obligation to provide a professional standard of law enforcement service to the City of Santa Rosa. Training increases the technical expertise and overall effectiveness of individual employees, as well as provides career development of all staff members.
The department utilizes both internal and external training sources. Law enforcement training institutes, community colleges and state universities provide technical courses for personnel in specialized assignments. Internal instruction is provided for defensive tactics, use of force and firearm qualification. New officers are subject to an intensive Field Training Officer Program that acclimates them to both the department and the community. Training and Instructor positions within the Santa Rosa Police Department are considered a collateral duty; employees are assigned as instructors in addition to their normal work duties.
To be a police officer, you are required to drive a patrol vehicle 8 to 10 hours per day through the worst conditions possible; rain, fog, sleet, and sometimes even snow, at high speeds, through tight squeezes, and on dark stormy nights. There's also the distraction of the radio, utilizing spotlights, or trying to locate a suspect lurking in the shadows.
The department has police officers specially trained in Defensive Driving Skills who provide training to all employees who drive a vehicle in the course of their duties. The training is provided semi-annually and consists of a 10 hour training day. Instruction is performed both in the classroom and at a driving facility. The classroom portion of the instruction includes:
- Review of current department policies regarding Code 3 and Pursuit Driving.
- Review of case law decisions concerning Emergency Vehicle Operation.
- Review and analyze past pursuits and collisions involving police vehicles.
- Written examination.
The students then proceed to the designated track area where hands-on training and instruction is provided. The department provides the students with actual patrol vehicles and walks them through several driving exercises aimed at improving their defensive driving skills. These exercises include:
Core 5: A low speed defensive driving exercise that teaches the basic driving skills encountered during normal, ordinary driving conditions. These skills include backing, turning, parking, and obstacle avoidance.
Collision Avoidance: A cone pattern and traffic signal are utilized to simulate an accident that occurs in front of the approaching officer. A snap decision and avoidance maneuver must be performed to avoid the collision. This exercise teaches the skills of turning, braking or accelerating, and utilizing the anti-lock brake system to avoid a collision. Several officers have testified that this exercise has saved them from a collision in both their work and personal vehicles.
Vehicle Handling Oval: A wet oval track is used to train the officers how to control a vehicle at high speeds through braking, turning and weight transfer.
Mock Pursuit: The same wet track is used for this exercise and trains the officers to utilize the skills they learned in the previous exercise while in high speed pursuit conditions. As the students chase the instructor around the track, they learn to control the vehicle properly while maintaining visual contact with the instructor. Another part of the exercise is the use of the "Spike Strip" to disable the suspect's vehicle.
Not only do the Driving Instructors provide instruction to our employees, they also perform many other important functions. They inspect and evaluate the police vehicles, as well as their safety equipment, to determine if they are safe for use. Because police vehicles contain a great deal of equipment such as spot lights, shotguns, and radios, the Driving Instructors review collisions involving police vehicles to determine if the placement of this equipment poses a safety risk. For example, a past collision revealed that an officer who had his hand in front of the wheel during a collision, was injured when the airbag deployed and propelled the hand into his face. This issue was reviewed and is now passed on to the employees through training.
The Driving Instructors also research new technologies such as the Vehicular Spike Strip and make recommendations regarding its purchase and deployment. They also review and update the department's Emergency Vehicle Operations policy on a yearly basis.
As you can see, the Driving Instructors provide a critical training need to the employees of the City of Santa Rosa. Because of their efforts, our department experiences fewer traffic accidents, thus reducing the risks of injury to our employees, as well as the citizens of our community.
The department's Firearms Instructors are police officers specially trained to instruct sworn personnel on how to use their firearms safely and effectively within the course of their duties. These instructors provide training on a bi-monthly basis and require them to maintain qualifying standards in proficiency. Using various instruction techniques, the Firearms Instructors train the officers to utilize their weapons effectively under varying circumstances.
Several of the Firearms Instructors are also Certified Armorers who are trained to repair and inspect department firearms. The instructors not only train personnel on the use of their duty weapons, they also train in the use of special weaponry including:
- Colt M-16 and AR-15 Rifles.
- H&K MP-5 Assault Rifle.
- Remington 870 12 gauge shotgun.
- Various off-duty and personal back-up weapons.
The Firearm Instructors use classroom training to discuss Use of Force issues and computerized firearms training, utilizing a high-tech computerized simulator (FATS). They also maintain firearms training records and oversee the inspection and repair of all police firearms.
Field Training Officers
The Field Training Officer Program is comprised of a Captain, a Lieutenant, Sergeants and Training Officers responsible for training all new police officers. It takes an average of 16 weeks to train a new officer on the policies, practices and geography of the City of Santa Rosa and the Police Department.
Our Field Training Officers have held a wide variety of assignments in both Special Services and Collateral Duties, which assists them in providing a broad perspective on the opportunities available to new employees in the department. In 1999 the Police Training Officer Program accomplished the following: Received accreditation from the State of California Peace Officer Standards and Training, established a "mentor program" for department trainees while in the police academy, revised the training program to provide new employees the skills and competencies consistent with Neighborhood Oriented Policing, provided training for all Police Training Officers in meeting facilitation skills and consolidated the Field & Evidence Technician Training Program with the Police Training Officer Training Program.