Saturday, February 13, 2010

Reduced training for DPS troopers

Texas DPS troopers will now receive 1/3 less training than in the past before being deployed onto the streets, the Houston Chronicle reported this week:

Steve McCraw, director of the Texas Department of Public Safety, said reducing the length of academy training will shave costs, increase recruitment and lead to more frequent classes.

“We can provide superior training at less cost, in less time, and it's far easier for us to recruit,“ said McCraw, adding many recruits will not commit to a training course lasting more than 7 months. “We determined we can be much more competitive in recruiting, in college and the military, in an 18-week school and one that's not done just once or twice a year.”

McCraw recently persuaded the DPS governing board to trim the existing 27-week training course to 18 weeks, a move he hopes will help the state police find enough applicants to fill nearly 400 vacancies. He said much of the training that was removed related to gaining an intermediate police officer rating, one which also requires six years of experience.

The Public Safety Commission also approved an eight-week school for certified peace officers who want to join the DPS, McCraw said.

While I understand their reasons for doing it, honestly it's absurd to say, as Director McCraw declared, that reducing the amount of academy time will provide "superior" training. Unless the DPS training academy staff are flat-out incompetent and were wasting everyone's time under the old regime, less training simply means DPS troopers will be less well trained. Similarly, reducing training requirements for transfers from local departments assumes those locals did a good job training their cops in the first place. Hopefully that's true, because DPS will no longer require as much additional training as a backstop.

A friend who emailed this story to me asked if there was cause for concern at reducing trooper training. I replied thusly:

Basically DPS used to get the creme de la creme among officers, but now cops in Austin and other jurisdictions make substantially more money, plus troopers must take turns being assigned to the border for long periods, which is boring, pointless duty they all hate because they must live for long stretches far away from home. So given less money, relatively poor working conditions, etc., fewer quality officers want to go there.

That means DPS has two choices: Pay more money or hire less qualified, less committed people who receive less training (which is also quite expensive). They've obviously chosen the latter.
For my entire lifetime, DPS troopers were considered the elite of Texas law enforcement - better trained, better paid, and more professional than local police and Sheriff's departments. However, between underinvestment in trooper pay and radically reduced training for new recruits, we're probably witnessing the end of that era.

30 comments:

Johnny Gardner said...

Reminds me of Scalia's comment about the professional police.

Donald said...

The 18-week academy doesn't cause me any indigestion, but the 8-week academy for anyone with even a basic TCLEOSE ticket gives me serious heartburn.

The DPS tried offering a 12-week academy for lateral transfers with intermediate TCLEOSE certifications, but got very few apps. I mean VERY few. So they canned that idea in favor of this 8-week deal. Considering that just about every Trooper I know earned his badge after enduring seven months of pure hell, I'm concerned not only for what we're going to get from this 8-week school, but also how those graduates will be accepted by their colleagues in the THP.

outlawprincess said...

Well, at least there will be footage for World's Dumbest......Cops

Anonymous said...

One has to wonder about the potential increase in DPS accident report errors in the near future!:~)

Anonymous said...

It's probably not going to make much difference, Grits. It's not like the Highway Patrol is doing much in the way of criminal investigation now. 90 percent or more of what they do involves traffic enforcement, DWI investigation, and maybe a little drug interdiction, and that's about it. If they later seek advancement into one of the criminal investigation divisions, they can get more training then. The truth of the matter is that municipal police and county deputies should receive more training and be better paid than DPS. Not only might they have to do traffic enforcement, they also have to be well versed in the Penal Code and the fundamentals of criminal investigation as well.

Anonymous said...

Don..It's eight weeks and NO BORDER DUTY!

You right 2;49 and don't forget we sheriff deputties are civil process experts! :)

Anonymous said...

Lateral transfers accepted by DPS should have a shorter training period. Many previous DPS recruits are former municipal and county officers.

Lateral transfers are competent in the areas of penal and juvenile law as well as the Texas CCP.

The eight week course for lateral transfers should focus on traffic accident investigation and the policy and procedures of the DPS.

After all Gritoris, you are all about saving taxpayer dollars and a shorter class will save taxpayer dollars and will not sacrifice professionalism. :)

Anonymous said...

DONALD.........I'm retired with a Master Peace Officer Certficate. Does that concern you?

Anonymous said...

Did you earn it or was it given to you? Attitude and character make a police officer.

Anonymous said...

I it was given to me after I earned it. :)

Anonymous said...

Sure...same ole story. Lack of integrity.

Anonymous said...

Well, isn't it odd that some of the best homicide investigator's come from city and sheriff's offices?

Some of the best and most famous cops are local officers.

Grits, DPS has an army of very competent traffic officers will little or no experience in any form of investigation other than traffic accidents.

You are under the assumption that most local officers are incompetent. You are looking at it all wrong.

DPS has an a great opportunity to pick and choose from the creme of the crop of middle to small sized departments. Even some large city officers may jump ship.

If they do this, these officers need to be well trained, experienced and most of all treated with respect by DPS.

I now work for a state police agency (not DPS) here in Texas and I can tell you that it is highly competitive when just one of our criminal investigator positions comes open.

We get retired DPS investigators and a variety of local officers that we pick and choose and we pick the best of the best. (By the way that's not the guy that can write the most seat belt tickets like DPS)

Point is, most local cops are fairly knowledgeable regarding traffic law. A brush of of traffic law and defensive tactics, DPS policy is all that is needed.

Common sense cop.

Sheriff Ray Nash said...

Because of the high level of trust placed in the police, they must adhere to a higher, not a lower, code of conduct.

Think about the powers they have. They can "take away" at least four things:

Freedom
Property
Life, and
Children.

Nobody else in our culture is entrusted with that kind of authority.

"He who has been given a trust must prove himself faithful..."

Sheriff Ray Nash
Police Dynamics Institute
www.PoliceDynamicsMedia.com

Anonymous said...

IMO while it's important to be well trained, much of that can be done on the job. It's more important for officers to move into an organization that has high standards, high moral, and is well paid. It's also important that they are accountable to the people they serve while also remaining empowered as a group, for example being in a union.

Anonymous said...

Grits, I can’t imagine that you are surprised by this. After all remember the great piece of expose’reporting you did earlier:

DPS commander coached law-enforcement witnesses, says 5th Circuit opinion

“In an opinion (pdf) issued Wednesday, the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals upheld a lower court's ruling that the DPS Commander in charge of the department's Training Academy improperly coached Harris County Sheriff's deputies before their depositions in a Sec. 1983 civil rights suit.


… DPS Commander Albert Rodriguez or other officers gave "false testimony," …

"Despite that officer-friendly decision, the appellate court affirmed the finding about witness coaching which centered on allegations Commander Rodriguez was paid to instruct deputies how to alter and frame their testimony to support a pre-manufactured defense theory.

For that matter, what about Commander Albert Rodriguez, who runs the friggin' DPS Training Academy? It was Rodriguez who actually did the alleged "coaching" of witnesses, after all.”

--

Having had experience with Rodriguez and his “forensics” it is very clear that he is either incompetent, an outright crook, or both. It is also clear that he is the DPS’s “go to guy” when the cops screw up and need to “ frame their testimony to support a pre-manufactured defense theory” to save their butts when they’ve been caught committing crimes.

There are other known cases where the government’s own attorneys for the prosecution have had to throw out Rodriguez’s “work” because it was blatantly manufactured and frankly laughable ( had the matters at hand not been of such a serious nature.)

It’s a joke that this guy still has a badge and is not behind bars. It also comes as no surprise that the head of Training for DPS would argue that less training will make cops more competent.

Anonymous said...

Its so sad to know there are so many criminals training our police to become trained criminals. Where did the trust amd integrity go?

Anonymous said...

12:26,...Medina supporter,eh?

Anonymous said...

02:12:00

Sad to say, but I had to Google to find out what "Medina" was.

I guess you're referring to the governor's race in which Medina is apparently a very minor (below the radar) candidate?

I can't figure out what the connection is - or what your point is.

In any case, there's no theory or debate about Rodriguez -

particularly when the district court and the the 5th have found the same in his regards.

Perhaps you're one of the "people" who use and pay this shill to try and protect criminal cops - and by extension to inflict injury upon the innocent citizenry ?

Donald said...

To anon 2/14 12:26....Albert Rodriguez has retired and is no longer director of the DPS academy.

Anonymous said...

Question For Donald.

WHEN, exactly did Albert Rodriguez retire?

I'm willing to bet it was shortly after two courts nailed him for being a crooked cop con-artist and falsifier hiding behind a badge?

Anonymous said...

Funny, but the current DPS home page says:

"The Academy has a training staff of 15 commissioned officers, 9 sergeants, 4 lieutenants, and one captain led by Commander Albert Rodriguez.

Clerical support is provided 9 secretaries, 2 clerical supervisors, an assistant clerical supervisor, two receptionists, and a supply specialist."

Seems Albert is still on the "job"
coaching witnesses on how to lie on the stand?

Anonymous said...

Grits, I thought you'd be smarter than this. A lot of the 27 weeks of training is the basic peace officer curriculum, stuffed with other "training" that usually consisted of cadets beating the shit out of each other at 3 a.m., and other traditional academy nonsense. It's about time things have changed. "Just because it's always been done that way, does not mean that it's not incredibly stupid."

Anonymous said...

Not that long ago, DPS admitted to hiring some felons and others who failed polygraph examinations. This does not translate into an "elite, professional" law enforcement agency but rather a bunch of typical Texas good old boys n girls.

Anonymous said...

DPS? Professional? Let me get back with you when I stop laughing.

Anonymous said...

ANONYMOUS SAID

"Some of the best and most famous cops are local officers."
-------------------------------------
Famous for what? Abusing the public? Running speed traps? Perhaps infamous would be a better choice of words here.

dfwiskwg said...

It's funny how everyone in the state of Texas believes that being DPS trooper is the greatest thing ever. I've worked with so many that couldn't tell you the first thing about a domestic or juvenile laws; or how to apply civil law vs. criminal law, and etc. Traffic is their bread and butter. They are very good at it. With out a little research on your part, T.V. would have you believe that all local cops are just po-dunk idiots. But that's not true at all.
For those who don't know, there is more in the law book then traffic codes. We (local cops) have to generally know a great majority of it because we go where we're sent despite what the call is. We don't get to pick and choose the calls we go to like DPS. DPS on the other hand only have to know the other parts of the law book in theory because not much happens on the highway other then traffic.
I inquired about the eight week program for laterals and this is what I was told. “You have to have three years of street experience before you qualify for it. “
As I got to thinking, I thought why in the heck would I leave where I'm at to go get treated like dirt for eight weeks just so I can cruise the HWY in my take home fancy trooper police car. I can only imagine the shear boredom they must experience. Actually, I don't have to imagine it because I lived it during a ride-along not to long ago. Terrible, drive north for 4hrs just to turn around and drive south for the remaining 4. All the while, writing tickets. I challenged that trooper to hit the mean streets of Houston with me for eight hours and see if he could handle my work load.
Eight week later program, please! I'm insulted. Any day of the week I can get up and drive for eight hours up and down the highway, but can the average state trooper say the same. Could the average trooper say I'm going to go run some calls in the city today and survive? I doubt it. I’m not say we city cops are better by no means,… we all work for the citizens and have a dangerous job to do. But to tell me I’m not up to par with a Trooper is an absolute insult.

Anonymous said...

I can see it now, the new DPS recruiting add will say, "Only those who dream of working accidents, writing tickets and hanging out on the hot lonely border, should apply.
Everyone I know who wanted to "jump ship" and go to DPS was because they simply wanted get a break from the volume of calls for service we have to handle, and the fact that Troopers don't have to go to roll call. haha. But it wasn't because they thought DPS was better. The fact is, if DPS want's to boost numbers, as one person said, they should loose the attitude and remember we all hold the same license at the end of the day. "I feel better now". G/N all

-dfwiskwg

Anonymous said...

What most people don't know though is that they shortened the weeks, but lengthened the days. These boys go from 4 in the morning until 8 at night. In a typical day they are in class 8-10 hours.

Anonymous said...

Taking police officers from the local PD and SO is not a bad idea. Some of these postings don't have a clue what DPS is all about; yes the Troopers work traffic and doing so make more felony arrest than any city or Sheriffs officer. Oh, yes they only work traffic; however they, DPS, makes more high profile drug arrest that the local agencies. Oh they, DPS, only work traffic and they can't conduct a homicide investigation. You must not consider vehicle homicide worth investigating because if you did you would know that DPS is way ahead of most police agencies in vehicle homicide investigation. Oh, they only work traffic; there are several other aspects to DPS other than traffic; Narcotics, Intelligence and the Rangers. Oh, they only work traffic; sounds to me that most of you who have that attitude couldn’t handle DPS recruit school. Did I mention I’m retired DPS and I handled and completed recruit school; and I don’t complain that other agencies only handle barking dog calls, opening locked car doors or disturbances. Oh, DPS only works traffic; give it a break.

Anonymous said...

DPS would be lucky to snatch up the big city cops in Texas. By the time an officer from a big city has about 5 years on and has earned their intermediate cert they should have a very wide variety of experience and knowledge across the board. It is my "opinion" that if you took a mature experienced officer with let's say an 8 week DPS academy and put them up against a rookie with only the experience of their 6 month academy there would be no contest. An officer with that kind of experience and variety of skill sets may be a great asset to the progression of DPS. This is a point of view that could be drawn out and argued but that is neither here nor there.

The real problem is it generally is not worth it for a big city officer to make that change with what DPS is offering. I highly considered attending the 8 week academy as it was always ambitions of mine growing up to become a trooper but the way things worked out I ended up in Dallas which has been great. When I sat down and weighed out the pros and cons for my family I had to take into consideration the tremendous pay cut I was going to take if you count base salary, overtime, and extra jobs. Plus I own my house and if I was transferred to a different area for the needs of THP the reality is I would most likely have to sell my house and uproot my whole life.

A lot of my co-workers and I have all discussed the idea of going to DPS while the 8 week academy was on the table but all of us usually come to the same conclusion, the cons outweigh the pros. We typically agree that the only way we could make the switch is if DPS offered a lateral transfer including salary from day one, a reasonable academy (I don't need to learn everything all over again), and serious stability. But even with that I still don't know if that would help DPS' situation. Let's be honest there has to be a reason DPS is reaching out. In DFW there are several agencies that accept lateral transfers which for someone like me would pay about $65,000 to $78,000 a year base salary. They all require that you attend a short in-house academy that's about 8-weeks to get up to speed on their policies and procedures. The FTO process for these agencies is also case by case and based off of individual performance for lateral transfers.