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.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.
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.