In the past two years, the news media and many legislators and community members have called to establish national deputy and police officer training standards. But these standards already exist with the International Association of Directors of Law Enforcement Standards and Training’s (IADLEST) National Certification Program (NCP). Unfortunately, many in the criminal justice system have not heard of this program. The NCP began because there were no nationally recognized standards for law enforcement training, and oversight of the quality of training programs varied dramatically from state to state. This lack of consistency created problems, resulting in negligent training that affects the critical performance of officers nationwide and has caused significant civil litigation.
Members of IADLEST collaborated to create a viable and dynamic solution: NCP. IADLEST is a nonprofit group comprised of Peace Officer Standards and Training (POST) directors, training academy directors, training experts and commissioners throughout the United States and worldwide. IADLEST is a cohesive association committed to improving law enforcement certification standards and training for criminal justice practitioners.
In June 2015, IADLEST launched the NCP with the technological support of Acadis, LLC (formerly Envisage Technologies) and many state POSTs. The NCP is a dynamic program designed to enhance standardization and quality within police training. By establishing and disseminating “best practices” for in-person, online, hybrid and virtual training, the program recognizes quality continuing in-service education for the law enforcement community. Designed to meet or exceed any individual state certification requirements, NCP-certified training is accepted by participating POST organizations in the country. Additionally, by compiling certified courses into a national training catalog, the NCP fundamentally improves access to quality training, reduces agency costs, improves training efficiency and allows students to provide critical course feedback on their training experience. Upon its founding, Ari Vidali, CEO of Acadis, LLC, stated, “The NCP is a fundamental shift in how departments access training for their deputies and officers. By providing a seal of quality that departments can trust, IADLEST has created the nation’s first benchmark standard for what constitutes excellent training.”
When commenting on the impact the NCP has on the law enforcement training profession, Mike Becar, IADLEST’s executive director, explained, “The NCP seal makes it easier for agencies to select training programs critically and independently examined to meet the threshold required for sheriffs, chiefs and academy directors.”
The training content is reviewed by curriculum development and subject-matter experts referred by POST organizations and other training entities throughout the country. The reviewers must attend and pass a training course and mentoring program before reviewing any courses for national certification. These experts have extensive experience in police curriculum design and development. IADLEST’s goals include training 200 qualified reviewers to increase the number of certified courses. New reviewers are added to the roster monthly.
IADLEST has updated and streamlined the NCP process to reduce costs and add flexibility to the requirements for training providers. For instance, providers were initially required to upload completion data, but not anymore. For training providers who take advantage of managing registrations and diploma delivery using tools in FirstForward, IADLEST waives the associated fees for all NCP-certified courses, providing completion certificates free for NCP courses. Additionally, while training providers are still required to list their NCP-certified online training in the national training catalog at FirstForward.com, they no longer must host and deliver them at that site. Instead, online training can be stored on the provider’s learning management systems and marketed for free in the FirstForward catalog.
“By making these changes, we hope to expand the number of training providers that participate in the NCP process, thereby achieving the distinction of having the quality of their training recognized,” Becar said. “Doing so ensures that our law enforcement professionals are receiving the best possible training for the job, in a variety of topic areas critical to enhancing their safety and effectiveness. In addition, the NCP seal is a visible affirmation to any agency or officer that the training program has met rigorous standards for content and delivery.”
While the threshold for certification remains high, it is never IADLEST’s primary goal to fail a course but to support and help a training provider improve the quality of their programs. Therefore, IADLEST often works with the training providers that have initially failed to provide critical feedback, helping them meet NCP standards.
NW3C president and CEO Glen Gainer said, “Last year, NW3C was able to bring live online training to over 11,000 practitioners and delivered an additional 23,000 online, on-demand classes. Working with IADLEST as an independent certification authority makes us a better training provider and ensures that we deliver training designed with the highest possible standards.”
Law enforcement administrators and organizations from around the country have been quick to recognize the benefits of the NCP. Thus far, 36 states have officially adopted the program, with several mandating that training provided for in-service credit be NCP-certified. The Major County Sheriffs Association (MCSA) has also endorsed NCP. At the time, the president of the MCSA, Sheriff Sandra Hutchens, stated, “As an association dedicated to the continuing education of our members, we are pleased to embrace a new and very high standard for law enforcement training.”
Peggy Schaefer, NCP program director, says, “Sheriffs and their staff can peruse the national catalog and select training programs that have been independently assessed and are legally defensible. So why would your agency ever host a training program without the NCP seal again? Send those providers to IADLEST first before hosting them.”
Spread the news that national training standards exist, and look for our IADLEST NCP seal for an excellent training option for your sheriff’s office!