By Chief Joseph C. Carter
|Chief Joseph C. Carter, Transit Police Department, Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority, Boston, Massachusetts|
or more than 100 years, training has been a cornerstone of the IACP’s efforts to improve and enhance the law enforcement profession. Whether through our cohost training, grant-based training, or the workshops provided at the annual IACP conference, the IACP has always striven to fulfill our mission to ensure that our membership has access to the most complete and up-to-date training programs available.
The IACP maintains this commitment because we understand the value that effective training programs provide to the law enforcement profession and, by extension, to the communities we serve. Unfortunately, the reality is that despite the significance of training programs, time constraints and budgetary pressures affect all of us, making workshops and classes difficult to schedule and attend.
In 2004, in an effort to find a way to provide effective training to the law enforcement community despite these difficulties, the IACP, under the leadership of then president Joseph Estey, formed an Ad Hoc Committee on Distance Learning. This committee, chaired by Dr. Gary Margolis, Chief of Police at the University of Vermont, was directed to study the feasibility of developing a distance learning capability for the IACP.
In the years since its formation, the Ad Hoc Committee on Distance Learning has worked diligently on this critical project. Their first step was to survey the IACP membership to identify both the training needs of the law enforcement community and its willingness to participate in online training. These surveys found that a large portion of the IACP membership was in favor of online learning and was eager for the IACP to develop and deliver online training courses.
Based on these findings, the IACP Executive Committee authorized the Ad Hoc Committee on Distance Learning, working closely with the IACP Education and Training Committee and IACP staff, to identify potential partners for the development of the IACP’s online training program.
I am pleased to announce that after an extensive and careful review process, the IACP has partnered with The Response Network to develop and host our first distance learning portal. The IACP distance learning portal will feature both assisted and nonassisted courses, videoconferencing, Webinars (Web-based seminars), and social-networking areas, as well as news and information sections.
We intend to provide these courses at a low cost to make sure that they are accessible to agencies of all sizes throughout the United States and the world. In addition, the use of online technology provides the IACP with the flexibility to assess the needs of the law enforcement community on an ongoing basis as well as to develop and deliver training programs that will be both timely and topical.
The benefits of distance learning are numerous in that the training materials and updates are readily available 24 hours a day, seven days a week, and technology now exists to facilitate online collaborations. Students gain the ability to re-create the learning experience as often as needed and can learn at their own pace. Distance learning is additionally effective when combined with in-class and hands-on learning. The IACP recognizes that the contemporary officer in the digital age is a professional, comfortable with the use of computers, personal digital assistants (PDAs), and the Internet. These officers are the police leaders of tomorrow, and the IACP is evolving to deliver our high-quality training and education to maintain relevance in serving the membership globally.
Throughout our 114-year history, we have remained committed to serving the law enforcement community; our educational partnership with The Response Network is the next logical step in better serving the law enforcement community and maintaining our commitment to high standards.
At the upcoming annual IACP conference in New Orleans, we will be unveiling our first slate of course offerings. I firmly believe that online training will provide immense benefits to the membership of our association and am proud that the IACP is leading the way in this vital next step in our continuing efforts to improve and enhance the quality and professionalism of the law enforcement profession. I encourage all of you to take advantage of these training opportunities once they are available.■