Document, Document, Document

By Sanow, Ed | Law & Order, June 2004 | Go to article overview

Document, Document, Document


Sanow, Ed, Law & Order


Training is critical to increasing officer safety and documentation of that training is critical to reducing the liability to the department.

We have all heard the expression "If it isn't written down, it didn't happen." Yet, as a police community, we don't always do a great job of documentation. Our lesson plans are not as complete and as updated as they need to be.

The real irony is that smaller departments generally give more training to their officers, but don't document it as well, while larger departments generally give less training to their officers, but do a better job of documenting it.

The reality is that your department will be sued for using some level of force alleged to be excessive. Whether it is a wrist injury from handcuffing or a fatality from less-lethal ammunition, when the lawsuit comes down, you will wish you had your documentation in order.

Far apart from just objectively documenting what your trainers said and did, you will need to prepare for the onslaught of outright and outrageous lies from the opposition. You will have to actually document some of what you did not do.

Documentation, of course, identifies holes in your training, and gives you the chance to plug those holes. Documentation actually forces your instructors to do a better job of training.

The reality is our training is far from perfect. And our dirty little secret is that some areas get no in-service training whatsoever. When was the last time your officers completed EVOC training? …

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