The Fresno County Sheriff's Office Field Training Officer unit consists of one Lieutenant, two Sergeants, and twenty-two Field Training Officers. The Field Training program is divided into three phases. Phase I is the P.O.S.T. Basic Academy required of all California Peace Officers. Successful completion of a Basic Academy makes the Trainee eligible to proceed to Phase II when there is an opening in the Patrol Division. Phase II begins when the Trainee is assigned to the Patrol Division under immediate supervision of the Field Training Unit. The Trainee will begin to apply prior training and knowledge to field situations.
During Phase II the Trainee will be assigned to a Patrol Area for a period of 720 hours of Field Training. The FTO Sergeant will assign the Trainee to an FTO Team. This Team will consist of three different FTOs for four weeks each on a scheduled basis, until the Trainee masters the comprehensive checklist of tasks required. FTO's are responsible for Daily Observation Reports for every day the Trainee is assigned to them.
After the 18th week of training the FTO Lieutenant will schedule the Trainee for a Basic Review Board. The FTO Lieutenant, the two FTO Sergeants, and the Trainee's primary FTO are on the panel which reviews the Trainees overall performance, and determines whether the Trainee advances to Phase III or remediates for a period of two weeks. Phase III is the Trainee's solo performance, and during this time the Trainee is evaluated on a weekly basis by the FTO Sergeant for a period of four weeks. The Trainee's Watch Supervisor then evaluates the Trainee on a bi-weekly basis for the next twelve weeks.
The goal of the Field Training Program is to produce a deputy capable of safely and skillfully working a solo beat assignment. The means to accomplish this is through the Field Training Officer. In addition to full beat responsibility, the FTO has the responsibility of training and indoctrinating new employees through a phased-type learning process. The FTO must be able to be a reliable, objective evaluator of a Trainee's performance. He will write daily evaluations of performance, plus submit additional documentation as required. The FTO attends all work-related activities that the Trainee is required to attend. These activities would include court testimony and other assignments outside of the field patrol function. If remedial training is required, the FTO shall notify the FTO Sergeant and assist in developing such training.
Since the ability to operate solo is a requirement for advancement from Phase II to Phase III, the FTO is responsible for assuring that the Trainee demonstrates knowledge and skill with little or no interference from the FTO. During and between Trainees, the FTO has the responsibility to continually monitor those phases of the FTO Program he comes into contact with. He should forward any deficiencies or potential innovations noted through channels to the FTO Lieutenant for consideration. Any materials that the FTO feels might be appropriate for the FTO Reference File are submitted for approval.
The FTO is a role model to the Trainee and to other members of the Office and the public. The FTO is expected to maintain the highest standard in all aspects of their job duties and performance. Personal grooming standards, operational procedures, and conformance to Office practices and policies, should always be above reproach. The FTO unit is a highly motivated, team oriented unit, committed to producing the best-trained deputies in the state.
Lieutenant Shawn Erwin