By Andy Wills, Resident Software Enthusiast

I worked in law enforcement for almost ten years as a civilian investigator. (Long story. More on that later.) So when it comes to the “process” of FTO, I was a complete rookie (pun intended) when we started building this software. 

The Gap: 

In July of 2018, I was in a meeting with a client who explained that while training was important, there was still a gap in almost every agency in the country. That gap was then identified as the gap between the Basic Police Academy and the Patrol Division. It was then explained to me that an officer can spend a large amount of time in the basic academy, and then when their FTO cycle begins, the only real way to track and report information is through three ring binders and spreadsheets. This made a lot of training items ineffective, inconvenient, and expensive when moving from the Academy to Patrol, especially when you calculate man hours and paper costs.

The Solution: 

Ok, so in the business world, if you can identify a “Gap” in a niche area of your business and fill that gap quickly, you can do a few things. 

  1. Improve your effectiveness
  2. Improve customer experience
  3. Improve your overall business

So the solution came to the surface rather quickly, “Let's build an FTO software.”

*Adjusts thinking cap* 

The problem was I didn’t really know WHAT should go into the FTO program. We had some staff members internally who had a good idea of it, but ultimately at the time, none of us had ever been in a FTO Coordinator role. We needed more real world experience. 

Enter the Little Rock Police Department. Luckily, LRPD was well aware of the current gaps in the industry and offered to lend a hand. Through this learning process, we identified what the basics of FTO were, thus giving us an idea of what the basics of our software should be. We even identified one of our top developers in the company as a key piece to the FTO puzzle. (We call him the wizard.) Then we were off on our journey.

Fast forward to 2019. LRPD became the first “Beta” agency for our FTO Program. It was a long, hard road, but guess what? We did it. We developed an amazing FTO program that was beneficial for not only Trainee and FTO users but also the administrative side to be able to pull some simple analytics from the data we had collected. LRPD has a handful of recruiting classes using the program and is experiencing massive efficiency gains through their entire process, not just with FTO paperwork but also with keeping the department up to date with Communications throughout the Virtual Academy platform. 

But we didn’t stop there. We spent the slow parts of 2020 building it better. We knew we could…. and we did. 

Now we have a very advanced platform that offers not one but TWO versions of our designer. The first is a basic FTO builder with step-by-step instructions to get your agency into their first cloud based FTO solution. The second is a much more advanced version of FTO that gives your agency complete control over building the program to match your current version. The level of customization in the advanced platform will blow you away. 

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