Challenges for the New FTO

I was a Field Training Officer, between specialty assignments, from 1990 and 2010.  I always seemed to gravitate back to wearing the FTO pin when I finished working in another capacity.  Because you will be a trainer, being an FTO urges you to really study standard operating procedures, law, and officer safety concepts.

A group of first time FTO’s was recently released to train and several of them ended up on my squad.  Over the next week or so, I had the pleasure of talking with some of them and hear about both their excitement and trepidation before having that first recruit in their car.

One of the new FTO’s asked me for some tips.  If I had to offer up some things I thought were important for a first time FTO I think it would be these:

  • You are not their friend; you are their trainer.
  • Be careful to whom you expose them.  They are sponges.
  • Know when they are overloaded.  They’ve stopped learning.
  • Trust, only when appropriate.
  • Today’s recruit is tomorrow’s partner.
  • Turn up the pressure when necessary.
  • Write objective Daily Observation Reports.
  • Have patience.  Remember when you were a “boot.”
  • You are the Gate Keeper to your Agency and this Profession.

I was happy to see a great group of officers who wanted to pass on their knowledge and experience to their recruits.  I think they are going to do just fine.

Randall is a twenty-three year sworn police officer in a mid-sized Florida police department.  He has been an FTO, K9 Handler, Detective and SWAT Team Leader.  He is currently a Midnight Shift Sergeant and SWAT Coordinator.

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Richard Johnson is a gun writer, police trainer and really bad joke teller. Check out his other writing on sites like Human Events, The Firearm Blog and Police & Security News.

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