Knowledge Factor brings success to officer training
Arapahoe Community College, the site of Colorado's largest police academy, tapped into Knowledge Factor and its Confidence-Based Learning (CBL) platform to develop a course to accelerate the training and certification of law enforcement professionals.
Originally, the college offered a 16-week class to police cadets to help them prepare for the state certification exam. But a few years ago, the college teamed with Knowledge Factor to put the curriculum onto a CBL platform and experienced amazing results. Instead of completing the certification prep course in 16 weeks, cadets began finishing it in two. And what's more, where 76 percent of Arapahoe Community College cadets once passed the certification exam on the first try, that number has risen to 100 percent.
"It's been six semesters worth of graduates and the results still hold," says Brian Webster, vice president of marketing and business development at Knowledge Factor Inc. "They have a 100-percent pass rate for students who use the CBL system."
In another success story, County Sheriffs of Colorado Inc., an association charged with developing training initiatives for Colorado sheriff's offices, introduced an online training program about DNA collection and preservation. The association selected Knowledge Factor's CBL system to deliver the course because of its unique ability to ensure mastery, and remove doubt and misinformation in the officers' knowledge base, says George Epp, County Sheriffs of Colorado executive director.
A big benefit to Knowledge Factor's program is its online format, he says. "We've found that one of the greatest difficulties in delivering training isn't setting it up, but getting police chiefs and sheriffs to find the time and money to send people to it," he says. "Training that can be done at the convenience of the officer becomes very attractive. It's also cost effective — you can get more people trained per dollar by doing it online."
Knowledge Factor, as well as the Colorado Bureau of Investigation, cooperated with the organization to develop DNA training material. The Colorado Bureau of Investigation sought to help because "they get a lot of garbage in when field officers are not adequately trained in what to collect and how to collect it," Epp says. "They saw how the program would benefit them by increasing the quality of evidence submitted."
The association established the DNA program as a pilot in January, where key professionals in sheriff's offices across the state went through the class and offered suggestions for refinement. Knowledge Factor modified the program accordingly and now the association offers the class statewide, he says.
Epp speaks confidently that he believes the program will soon be viewed as both necessary and beneficial. "There's very little training given in academies about DNA, so officers may think they can get evidence from a certain type of secretion or material, when in fact they cannot," he says.
Other common problems that occur include what Epp refers to as the shotgun approach to evidence submission, where officers collect everything under the sun and want it analyzed for DNA; improperly package or preserve samples; and do not collect evidence that could be probative.
The program's first module, "DNA 101," covers subjects officers might be asked to discuss when testifying about DNA evidence. The second module details DNA collection and preservation. In order to pass the DNA program, students must achieve 100-percent mastery.
Epp says he appreciates that a sheriff can track each deputy's progress with this training system. "There is an audit trail," he says. "I can look at it and know that Deputy Jones took the class and spent X amount of time reviewing the material. I know that the first time through he achieved 50-percent mastery, the second time through 75 percent, and the third time 100 percent."
The County Sheriffs of Colorado soon expects to put its 80-hour detention officer curriculum online. And in the future, Epp anticipates having agencies develop programs to train officers on their department's specific policies and procedures. "In law enforcement we can get sued for our officer's behavior, and the chief executive is often the target for such lawsuits," he says. "It's not enough to simply have a policy in place. He must prove officers were effectively trained in that policy. Putting policies online provides a way to demonstrate that adequate training occurred and employees mastered the material."