Mint Hill Police Department, Mint Hill, N.C.
No matter the size of a law enforcement agency, its management of training, certifications, and policies for its officers is crucial work. It is work that carries significant implications for the safety of officers and citizens, and for the reputation, effectiveness, and budget of every agency.
Take, for instance, the training and compliance needs of the Mint Hill (N.C.) Police Department. In 2017, Mint Hill Chief Tim Ledford recognized that his department with 35 sworn officers would benefit from a wider range of easily accessible training opportunities, as well as from digital tracking of training completed and policy documents reviewed and approved.
To meet these needs, Mint Hill purchased the FirstForward online learning platform, built exclusively for public safety. FirstForward is a product of Envisage Technologies, which has been committed to providing cost-effective training management solutions for law enforcement, fire service, EMS, federal, and other government organizations since 2001.
These training management solutions range from options that are free and fit the needs of small departments and individual public safety officers to a comprehensive 20-module training management suite used by larger law enforcement agencies, academies, and federal government agencies with as many 367,000 users. (For larger agencies, please see the Acadis Readiness Suite® section below).
The Mint Hill Police Department purchased FirstForward® Pro for $10 per user annually. With FirstForward Pro, Mint Hill receives tools to help the department manage training and compliance in one system. This includes management, reporting, and tracking of departmental training; management of certifications with notifications of upcoming expirations; and management of policy documents.
There is also a free version of FirstForward which offers tools for assigning, tracking, and reporting on training; reporting and documenting field incidents and exposures; and access to more than 650 courses on the marketplace. More than 100 of these courses are free. All free capabilities are also included in FirstForward Pro.
Ledford wanted FirstForward to be useful in managing more than 175 general orders his department receives annually that previously resulted in needing to offer and document training of officers on new and changing policies. After more than a year and a half of using FirstForward, Ledford says the training platform has met and exceeded his expectations
“That was just torturous,” Ledford said of bringing his officers into the office on a day off and paying them overtime every time the department needed to train them on new general orders. “Now, they receive the training and documents in FirstForward. I can use it to easily review who has looked at a document, who has approved it, and we can quiz them on the content of what we sent them. I can see who hasn’t done what’s required by the due date, and we can send out reminders through FirstForward.”
FirstForward provides secure password-protected access to Mint Hill officers through any modern web browser, allowing them to access it anywhere they have an internet connection.
Ledford uses FirstForward to communicate with officers about upcoming events and can check which officers have reviewed these communications. He also encourages Mint Hill officers to make use of the FirstForward Marketplace, especially for courses that will enhance officer safety. The easy-to-use marketplace offers online and in-person courses that are peer-rated and reviewed from a variety of training providers.
“Time that you spend on training officers is an investment that will repay you and your community many times over,” Ledford said. “FirstForward makes it easier for any department. Our officers have laptops in their cars and they can pull into a parking lot when things are slow and spend time working on a class until they are needed. It would also be a great concept for smaller agencies with only a few officers.
“FirstForward has provided cost savings, increased accountability, enabled officers to put in more training hours, and be tested on that training,” Ledford said. “It’s a well-oiled program.”
Acadis Readiness Suite: For larger agencies, especially those with more than 500 officers, Envisage offers the Acadis Readiness Suite, which is built exclusively for law enforcement, public safety, federal, and other government organizations.
Acadis provides a hire-to-retire training management system to manage the full range of complex training, testing, and compliance operations. Highly customizable, its interrelated modules can replace multiple information systems, creating cost savings and measurement capabilities not possible through unintegrated systems. The user base for Acadis surpassed 9,000 public safety departments nationally in 2018 with more than 1.6 million individual users. Acadis is used by federal, state, and municipal agencies in 26 states.
Customers use Acadis to accelerate tasks such as class registrations, scheduling, and managing resources; eliminate the use of paper records; make data-driven decisions; maintain compliance; and mitigate litigation.
Users often praise Acadis for its high-security framework, maintenance of legally defensible training records, and extensive support from knowledgeable public safety industry specialists.
In 2018, Envisage demonstrated industry-best security and compliance practices through the Federal Risk and Authorization Management Program (FedRAMP), a government-wide program that provides a standardized approach to security assessment, authorization, and continuous monitoring for cloud products and services provided to government organizations. Because its goal is to protect the personal data of U.S. citizens, FedRAMP is the government’s most rigorous security compliance framework for sensitive but unclassified data.
Acadis and FirstForward are built through an Agile development process that brings new features identified by customers to market more quickly and efficiently than other development methods. This allows customers to benefit from the best practices of their peers across the country.