Professional development and education for the police

Research output: Book chapter/Published conference paperChapter (peer-reviewed)peer-review


This chapter will initially explore the different ways students approach their learning tasks and the challenges posed when approaching a course of study. These approaches to learning range between deep and surface strategies, and can be vital in determining how well learners meet the final outcomes of their course. These approaches will be discussed within the context of police recruit training programs at the NSW Police College and the Police Training Officer (PTO) program in North America. The NSW Police College has implemented PBL into its pre-service program, covering the first two sessions of the Associate Degree in Policing Practice (ADPP). The PTO program, used in the first 15 weeks of recruit field training, has been implemented in over 120 police agencies in the USA and Canada. Both of these programs will be examined in relation to the expectations placed on learners and the development of the thinking skills to assist them in becoming competent and professional police officers.The learning of a new profession such as policing can be an intense and a demanding experience. The programs that provide these learning experiences have undergone considerable revision and change as our understanding of what makes effective teaching and learning has evolved in recent decades. Accepted beliefs of teaching have been challenged, placing an onus on teachers to develop skills that place a greater emphasis upon students and the most effective way to facilitate their learning. In police training programs, this has required the provision of learning that promotes more active engagement from students by using the types of thinking skills required in their occupation.Police recruit training programshave been criticisedfor relyingupon teacher-centred strategies and a narrow focus on skills thatfail to promote the problem-solving skills police require in their operationalroles(Bradford & Pynes, 1999; Birzer, 2003; Bloss, 2004; Chappell, 2005; McCoy, 2006). Policing, like otherprofessions, has begun to address these issues by utilising teachingstrategies that are more learner-centred in their approach. One of these approaches is problem-based learning (PBL), which has demonstrated advantages over traditional teaching approaches in medical programs, for example (Norman & Schmidt, 1992). The use of PBL in policing has gained momentum in the past decade, with its use being promoted in pre-service courses and field training programs for police recruits.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationPolicing in Practice
EditorsPhilip Birch, Victoria Herrington
Place of PublicationSouth Yarra
PublisherPalgrave Macmillan
Number of pages18
ISBN (Print)9781420256468
Publication statusPublished - 2011


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