According to the (U.S. Department of Justice, Federal Bureau of Investigations, 2008) There are just about 700,000 full time law enforcement officers working in the United States. With that being said, with many officers, comes a lot of training. Required training, if you will. Of course, different people respond to different styles of learning, but the different styles of learning are quite certainly a critical component of the effectiveness of learning as well as teaching. Currently, law enforcement officers are being held accountable at a much larger rate than they have in the past. As a result, intensive training is imperative. There are surely individual variables that affect learning during periods of training. Age, Sex, Maturity, innate ability, to name a few.
As community-oriented policing continues to evolve, it is absolutely paramount that agencies develop and implement the most effective teaching-learning transaction methods. New and improved techniques are constantly being adopted. There is an evident separation of gender in policing, and it has historically proven to be an on-going problem for female officers. It’s not always easy for female officers to develop an identity in the profession. Originally, in the early 1900’s female officers were sworn in for jobs such as type-writing and working with children. They held a completely different criteria as a police-woman. Discriminant Analysis has indicated that. On the other hand, discriminant analysis has also shown that medium aged males are more apt to gravitate towards a problem-solving learning strategy. These learners rely on strategies in critical thinking. Male officers are under the impression that they can perform these tasks and excel when it comes to community policing because they don’t face the same problematic environment that women do when it comes to being accepted into the profession of being a police officer. Most times, female officers feel as if they must prove themselves first by taking on the functions of reactive policing.
A while back there was a research study which required subjects to complete a 16 question VARK learning style questionnaire. A visual, Aural, Read/write, Kinesthetic questionnaire designed by Fleming in 1997. The study was meant to prove that law enforcement officers possess unique learning skills depending on their gender, age, rank, and years on the job. This study measured the learning styles of 101 full time officers that were employed by a single sheriff’s office located in southeast Florida. The steps for conducting this research were very kept very simple. Once consent was given from each one of the 101 officers, the VARK instrument was administered to each participant. This research study determined that most Law Enforcement officers preferred the multimodal category of learning. There was no gender divide based on this research study.
When it comes to community policing, it’s important that officers adopt a pro-active approach. They must learn and adapt to their surroundings quickly. This makes training even more important because officers are needed to constantly learn new skill sets and problem-solving strategies. Discriminant analysis showed that age, gender, and job assignment were most noticeable in naming the discriminant function. Because of this, a higher percentage of problem -solving type learners were assigned to community oriented policing duties. There are many adjustments that officers need to make to their learning strategies when involved in community policing. They must constantly adapt to the nature of the task at hand. Police officer’s traits are constantly evolving to fit the current molds of policing.
80 Officers were studied from a midwestern Police agency. Of the 80, 49 were assigned to patrol duties and 31 were assigned to community oriented policing duties. Each officer had to participate in “Assessing Learning Strategies of Adults” better yet known as ATLAS instrument. In result of the study, predominately male officers clung to the learning strategy traits that best placed them with community-oriented policing. Older officers stuck to a more traditional style of policing whereas females also ascribed to learning strategies that were more closely related with traditional policing. The researcher’s entire purpose was to help in the selection and training of police officers. Those who demonstrated problem solving capabilities were selected for community oriented policing assignments. It also wouldn’t hurt for law enforcement administrators to implement ATLAS into their regular training to better determine what styles of learning accommodations are appropriate for their officers. If learning strategies among officers are studied and identified, it would unquestionably place police executives and even trainers into a great position.
Understanding the way people learn and the variables that take place may assist greatly in facilitating positive organizational change. It is very important to re-engineer every so often to cater to the way an agencies officers learn. As the years pass, different ways and strategies of policing are evolving and it is ever so important to never become complacent in learning. Learning is an extremely complex process that involves a number of variables. There is certainly a usefulness of using more than one procedure such as discriminate analysis in order to better explain the complex process of learning in certain contexts.
Hess, K.M., Orthmann, C.H. & Ladue, S. (2016). Management and supervision in law enforcement (7th ed.). Boston, MA: Cengage Learning.
Federal Law Enforcement Officers, 2008. (n.d.). Retrieved October 4, 2018, from https://www.bjs.gov/index.cfm?ty=pbdetail&iid=4372
Robert E. Nola, M. (n.d.). Learning strategies of selected urban police related to community policing. Retrieved October 4, 2018, from https://www.emeraldinsight.com/
The VARK Modalities. (n.d.). Retrieved October 4, 2018, from http://vark-learn.com/introduction-to-vark/the-vark-modalities/