By Matthew Loux, criminal justice faculty at American Military University
For law enforcement officers, training is critical to begin or advance one’s career. However, many police departments, Sheriff’s departments, and state and federal agencies continue to cut their training programs in an effort to tighten their budgets. As a result, many officers need to start taking advantage of free programs to get the training they need.
Most states require sponsored continuing education requirements for law enforcement officers. Below are several resources for law enforcement officers to obtain such continuing education credits. Keep in mind that officers who find useful training from these organizations still need to get authorization from their training coordinator for it to be accepted as credit-worthy training. However, even if it is not authorized, many of these resources and programs can still be beneficial for career advancement.
Federal Law Enforcement Training Center
The Federal Law Enforcement Training Center (FLETC) offers basic law enforcement training to more than 80 federal agencies as well as in-service training throughout the country. While some of the training is not free, you will find webinars, videos, and other useful resources. Go here to find training opportunities near you or contact the Training Research Office for more information. The Informer is also a great resource for programs offered by FLETC. You can subscribe to the Informer to receive updates, information about training opportunities via webcasts, and learn more about legal decisions.
Northeast Counterdrug Training Center
The Northeast Counterdrug Training Center is located in Fort Indiantown Gap, Pennsylvania, but offers classes in Volksfield, Wisconsin, as well. It includes about 40 courses free of charge and includes free lodging, free meals, and a fitness center. They also offer mobile training courses throughout the country. Go here to find the catalog and schedule.
National Institute of Justice
The National Institute of Justice offers a free online course for law enforcement officers who want to learn Spanish. It is an interactive course that allows you to work at your own pace. Visit their website to learn more.
Police Officer Safety Association
The Police Officer Safety Association offers free and low-cost training through its website. You must have a PoliceOne.com account to register, but it is well worth it and the newsletters from PoliceOne are extremely beneficial. You can also find PowerPoint slides and training articles at the Police Officer Safety Association.
AMU’s Law Enforcement-Only Webinar Series
American Military University (AMU) offers free webinars for law enforcement personnel on topics such as using social media for investigations, electronic surveillance equipment and tactics, wiretapping, parcel interdiction and more. You can sign up here to be notified via email when new webinars are announced and you can also learn about upcoming webinars here.
Police Magazine offers some great training, which includes videos, podcast links, a magazine subscription, and how-to guides. You must go through a short registration process and be verified through your agency in order to have access to law enforcement-only material. Check out the Blogs section to find numerous content-driven blogs that include information on careers, training, patrol, SWAT, and more.
If you are interested in cloud computing and forensics, check out the following sites that offer free and low-cost training as well as some great content:
- SANS Digital Forensics and Incident Response
- ACT Online
- Forensic Control
- Introduction to Computer Forensics
- Defense Cyber Crime Center (DC3)
- Linux LEO
Although you may not receive training credit, law enforcement blogs are increasing in popularity and contain some great content.
In Public Safety
The blog this article is featured on, In Public Safety, is sponsored by AMU. This site features numerous articles from academics and professionals who provide great insight into law enforcement issues and also respond to comments from students and other law enforcement professionals.
In Homeland Security
In Homeland Security is a another blog from AMU. Experts provide content on terrorism research, emergency preparedness, disaster response, and many other topics. You can subscribe to the newsletter to get helpful updates.
The Crime Analyst’s Blog
The Crime Analyst’s Blog is a great resource whether you are an analyst or an officer. Scott Dickson provides great material on analytical tools, crime patterns, problem oriented policing, and is very receptive to questions.
The International Association of Chiefs of Police put together this blog. You can find discussions on law enforcement recruitment and different law enforcement job fields to narrow down your specialty.
The CSI blog is sponsored by the National Museum of Crime and Punishment and focuses its content on serial killers, stolen items, copycat killers, and hostage situations.
The Cops Alive blog provides resources and articles concerning tips to maintain a healthy lifestyle, stress reduction, wives of law enforcement, and many others.
Security Management provides some excellent information that you can subscribe to and they also have webinars worth reviewing.
You should also check you smartphone RSS app for other related feeds. I have found that RSS readers categorize and update posts as they are made so it is easily searchable as well as available wherever you go.
While this is not an exhaustive list of podcasts, it gives you a starting point. You can always search your favorite podcast app to find other new and interesting law enforcement or security podcasts.
Copcast.net is a great resource for officers. It discusses the latest in law enforcement news and technology.
FLETC provides podcasts on a variety of topics such as drug interdiction, court cases, officer liability.
The FBI currently offers four podcasts including Inside the FBI, FBI, This Week, Gotcha, and Wanted by the FBI.
I know I mentioned Police Magazine above, but I thought I would post it here as well. They have several podcasts to choose from such as Patrol Podcast, Police Chiefs, Shots Fired, Author Interviews, and others.
The Beat podcast is sponsored by COPS and features many articles such as the use of tourniquets by law enforcement, collaboration techniques, crisis management, and many others. You can also subscribe and get the podcasts delivered to your email.
The Millennial CPS podcast has some great information here (although the last episode was in November 2013).
To find other resources, check out your national or local organizations such as the:
- Fraternal Order of Police
- Federal Law Enforcement Officers Association
- Association of Certified Fraud Examiners
- International Association of Certified Financial Crimes Investigators
- Association of Certified Fraud Specialists
- International Association of Chiefs of Police
- Federal Criminal Investigators Association
- National Association of Women in Law Enforcement Executives
- American Criminal Justice Association (students)
- National Criminal Justice Honor Society (students)
Not all of the organizations have free training, but they offer discounts to members that are accredited and very useful. I have provided many websites and resources that link to several other training and learning opportunities and I encourage everyone to start their road to becoming the best you can be.
About the Author: Matt Loux has been in law enforcement for more than 20 years and has a background in fraud, criminal investigation, as well as hospital, school, and network security. Matt has researched and studied law enforcement and security best practices for the past 10 years.