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The Center for Justice Research and Innovation led an internally funded initiative at CNA from October 2020 to September 2021 and conducted case studies of six agencies’ Field Training Officer (FTO) programs. During this assessment, CNA examined common practices and policies that law enforcement agencies use within their field training, such as the qualifications an officer must have to become an FTO, and we assessed the quality and effectiveness of communication between trainers and trainees. In this resource, we identify several considerations and recommendations for agencies to develop, implement, and sustain their FTO programs with regards to recruiting FTOs and retaining those who demonstrate the ability to be successful and impactful trainers.

From the inception of American policing, recruiting the optimal number of officers to meet the needs and expectations of communities and agencies, along with retaining those officers, has been a challenging endeavor. The challenges with recruitment and retention appear to be even more significant of late, given the calls for transparency and accountability, as well as community expectations of the profession. As stated in the Field Training Officer Impact Assessment, recruitment and retention both affect and are affected by field training officers. FTOs will mold new officers joining the profession, and if a new officer is paired with an FTO who exhibits low morale, poor practices, or other negative qualities, this can affect the retention or quality of that new officer. Simultaneously, recruitment of officers to the FTO position is critical. Due to the notorious staffing issues facing law enforcement agencies nationwide, FTOs can be overworked and feel underappreciated, which can affect their mental health and physical safety and lead to burnout and other negative consequences.

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  • Pages: 3
  • Document Number: IIM-2021-U-030383
  • Publication Date: 10/1/2021