By: Chris Carden, National Director 

I became a police chief in 2011 after eighteen plus years in law enforcement. The agency that I was responsible for had a progressive chief prior to me, so I had an extremely high bar set before I walked in the office door. Fortunately, I had been somewhat prepared for the task during the years prior, and I was up for the challenge. What I didn’t know at the time was that being the chief of police in a small to midsize police agency is the toughest job there is.

Of all the high liability areas chiefs face on a day-to-day basis, I don’t think any can be more important than policy and training. When you see things going completely sideways in an agency, it’s a good indication that there is a policy or training deficit. You can have the best possible policy manual out there, but if you aren’t training on it, then it’s just a document for reference when an employee has a question. Leadership has to develop the mindset that policy is a living, breathing document that must be constantly monitored, edited, and trained on for the protection of the agency, public, officer, and local government. Failure on the chief’s part to do so is asking for trouble. Depositions, civil proceedings, and even searching job placement web sites for your next opportunity are sure to follow when policy or training is ignored.

When we talk policy, we are also talking about training. I know that cops want the cool training, the run-and-gun stuff that is scenario based and interactive. The bottom line is that when a training deficiency is identified, leaders need to assign reputable training immediately. The days of waiting for an emergency vehicle operations class to be hosted because you’re having a rash of patrol unit crashes are long gone. As the demands on our profession continue to increase so must our ability to do things differently, especially when it comes to training.

About a year ago I was introduced to the team at Virtual Academy in Martin, Tennessee. Although I was familiar with Virtual Academy, I had no idea of the full value of what they offered to public safety across the country. Like most people, once I saw a full demo of the Virtual Academy training and platform, I was blown away. I can remember saying that had I had this tool when I was a chief it would have made my life so much easier. Features such as the ability to mitigate policy distribution across your agency, the ability to create tests to make sure the information contained in the policy is understood, the ability to have complete control of your policy manual, and the ability to know that you are keeping this living, breathing document alive make Virtual Academy the complete solution.

On the training side, Virtual Academy has a complete library with new and interactive content being pushed out all the time. Virtual Academy’s content is relative, timely, and brought to users by subject matter experts across the industry. Whether it be law enforcement, 9-1-1, corrections, or security, Virtual Academy has something for the complete public safety spectrum. Rather than filling their library with thousands of hours of refurbished training or dash cam footage, Virtual Academy goes the extra mile to make sure their training is brought to you like a college course you would take online, directly through the Virtual Academy learning management system. With anti-cheating safeguards, interactives, and some of the best design and development in the industry, Virtual Academy doesn’t disappoint.

Additionally, chiefs can communicate with their entire agency at the same time and with the same exact message. Through written text, photos, videos, documents, or slides, you can push out content to every one of your employees, and they all get the same exact message the same exact way. Features such as records storage, document storage, agency directory, training, and even the ability to load your own complete training class all come with the platform. 

So, what makes Virtual Academy the right choice for police agencies? Well, in my opinion, there are several things. The first thing I’ll mention is cost. Everything included is $69 per user per year. This includes access to everything Virtual Academy has plus access to new enhancements being added all the time. Additionally, there are even lower price options for agencies and associations. Secondly, I would say that the support the user receives is outstanding. Every user, not just the agency representative, has access to Virtual Academy’s 24/7 live technical support. Lastly, the professionalism of the entire Virtual Academy team is amazing. We here at Virtual Academy are committed to making sure our public safety professionals get only the absolute best, because you deserve more!