By Chris Carden, National Director

Many years ago, I helped set up an FTO program for my agency with everything from policy creation, training, and scheduling to ultimately coordinating the entire program. Prior to becoming the department head, my work in the FTO world was fun. It was work worth doing. Sure, those FTOs forgot the occasional DOR and veered off the schedule occasionally. Hey it happens, but should it?

After becoming chief, I saw the FTO program through a much different lens. Is there a more critical area that we as law enforcement leaders need to focus on other than training? I can’t think of a single thing we do everyday that a properly managed FTO program doesn’t touch. In 1972 in San Jose California, someone much smarter than me came up with an ideal FTO model. It was so ideal in fact that the state of California made it “the model” for the entire state, and the IACP later recognized the model for its contribution to police science and technology. It didn’t take long for the model to become the gold standard in FTO programs across the globe.

Now fast forward to present day, and look at the FTO program in your agency. Is the model still a paper-driven process with the end game being a manilla folder in an old surplus file cabinet? If that stung a little, no worries; you are not alone in that world. I always remember it as “VCR’s,” the four things that make an FTO program legally defensible: “Valid, Consistent, Reliable, and Standardized.” Well, the manual way of managing an FTO program by today’s standard is archaic and quite frankly not very reliable or consistent in my opinion. We are in the days of software-driven management and accountability; progressive leaders have to keep up with the ever-advancing technology marathon.

Now that I am retired from active police service, I have the time to devote to the profession that was my calling for more than 25 years. As the National Director for Virtual Academy, I am able to stay connected and be a resource to our brave heroes. The development team at Virtual Academy has been working on an FTO module that will, quite frankly, help you to worry less about your FTO program. Having digital and consistent foundation documents across your program will bring the “standard” to “standardized.” With our solution, long gone are the frantic days of trying to find the daily observation report that covered that one important thing in week three of second phase. You know, something important like, oh I don’t know, use of force maybe? A complete solution for the training, accountability, documentation, and records management of your FTO program!

I keep telling people. Virtual Academy. . .we are so much more than training!