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A Multi-Site Randomized Controlled Trial of an Enhanced Field Training Officer Program: An Analysis of Administrative Outcomes and Community Interactions

Award Information

Award #
Funding Category
Competitive Discretionary
Congressional District
Funding First Awarded
Total funding (to date)

Description of original award (Fiscal Year 2022, $978,449)

The conversation and research around law enforcement training have primarily centered on the instruction provided in academies and in-service trainings. There has been less attention to improving and studying field training (i.e., the “on the job” training recruit officers receive immediately after graduating from the academy). Field training officers (FTOs) are responsible for preparing recruit officers for careers in law enforcement by reinforcing lessons taught in the academy, demonstrating real-world applications of policing techniques, and modeling appropriate behaviors and interactions with community members. Research has found that FTOs have a direct impact on the development and future behaviors of the recruit officers participating in their field training. CNA, along with their partner the National Field Training Officer Association (NAFTO), will conduct a rigorous, multi-site evaluation of a field training intervention. CNA and NIJ will select three law enforcement agencies to participate in the study from the agencies who have provided a letter of support. CNA will use stratified randomization to assign all FTOs in each of the three participating agencies (n=30 to 75 FTOs per agency) into either a treatment group or control group. NAFTO will provide training to the FTOs assigned to the treatment group, who will then be better prepared to provide field training to recruit officers. CNA will collect administrative data on recruit officer outcomes (e.g., arrests, uses of force, and complaints). CNA will also administer surveys to recruit officers from each partnering agency at the conclusion of the recruit officers’ probation period. These surveys will measure perceptions of internal procedural justice, trust in the FTOs, attitudes toward FTOs and agency policies, and overall perceptions of the FTO program. CNA will also collect a sample of body-worn camera (BWC) videos from each agency, and code videos based on recruit officers’ display of procedurally just behaviors. The team will measure outcomes at 4-, 12, and 24-month follow-up periods to determine the short-, intermediate-, and long-term impacts of the program. CNA will also conduct interviews with FTOs and recruit officers at multiple points during the study. The CNA team will conduct a process, impact, and cost effectiveness evaluation of the field training intervention. They will analyze interview data with reflexive thematic analysis methods. They will also analyze the administrative, survey, and BWC-based outcome data using random-effects panel models to estimate site-specific impacts and latent growth models to estimate aggregate/pooled impacts. Their dissemination plan includes scholarly journal articles, practitioner briefs, and conference presentations. This program has the potential to improve the field training process, and subsequent recruit officer outcomes, in the participating agencies and in the field more broadly. Note: This project contains a research and/or development component, as defined in applicable law," and complies with Part 200 Uniform Requirements - 2 CFR 200.210(a)(14). CA/NCF

Date Created: September 27, 2022