International Association of Directors of Law Enforcement Standards and Training Sourcebook of Standards and Training Information in the United States

Article excerpt

The International Association of Directors of Law Enforcement Standards and Training (IADLEST) routinely conducts a survey of criminal justice officer(1) training and employment requirements in the United States. Each year, the criminal justice commission in each of the 50 States respond to the survey. The University of North Carolina's Department of Criminal Justice compiles and analyzes the information, which is then distributed to a wide variety of training professionals, State standards commissions, academic institutions, and police departments. By sharing research, ideas, and experiences, departments across the country can improve their programs and standards of employment and equip officers with the best available training to do their jobs.


IADLEST seeks to assist States in establishing effective and defensible standards. Toward that end, the association publishes the IADLEST Sourcebook of Standards and Training Information in the United States, an executive summary of its national survey on law enforcement standards and training. The book provides data on officer standards, training, certification, and licensing.


IADLEST collects information from each State's criminal justice officer standards and training agency. The questions focus mainly on issues of current interest to criminal justice trainers, but they also collect information frequently asked of IADLEST members. Most questions simply require yes or no responses, some are multiple choice, and a few ask for specific quantifiers (the minimum number of hours established for officer basic training, for example). Not all States answer every question.

The survey contains nearly 800 questions grouped into sections that cover 11 major topics. The first section addresses organization and authority of State commissions on mandatory standards. Subsequent sections cover funding, minimum selection standards, employment requirements, training academies and instructors, basic training, training systems, instructor certification, private security, and sanctions. The final section covers preemployment training and licensure/certification/competency examinations. A number of issues emerged from the States' responses to questions in these 11 sections, and the editor dedicates a portion of the Sourcebook to those selected issues on training and standards.


As society's needs change, so do the demands placed on law enforcement agencies. Police professionals at all levels - from line personnel to administrators - must update their skills, and recruits must possess a somewhat different set of skills than their predecessors. Emerging crime problems, new technologies, and evolving philosophies of policing necessitate shifts in police training programs and in performance standards.

The IADLEST survey revealed that States approach the challenges in different ways. The survey covers several key issues. However, minimum hiring standards, recruit reading levels, inservice refresher training, and mandatory training and development appear to be the ones that significantly impact on the ability of all law enforcement agencies to select the best employees and to help them maintain high levels of performance throughout their careers.

Minimum Hiring Standards

The survey asked whether States have minimum hiring standards for criminal justice officers. Fourteen percent (7) of the States responded negatively, indicating that they had no minimum standards. Of the 43 States that do have minimums, 12 have provisions allowing the standards to be waived, and an additional 4 cannot penalize agencies for noncompliance.(2) While 43 States require applicants to possess at least a high school diploma (or its equivalent) to be appointed a criminal justice officer, 10 percent (5) have no minimum education requirement.(3)

Recruit Reading Levels

Selecting and hiring criminal justice officers is difficult, time-consuming, and costly, and agencies make every effort to select candidates who have the greatest chance of success. …