At the beginning of the 12-week process, Gales said the new officer observes how the field-training officer acts and then gradually takes on more responsibility.
“The last week of the 12 weeks the field training officer in charge will come to work in street clothes and ride with the training officer and the training officer operates as a solo unit for five days,” Gales said. “Which means the rookie officer is doing all of the driving, answering all of the calls.”
Once the officer is working at UNC, the state requires 24 hours of training each year and the department specifies an additional 24 hours. McCracken said this training includes diversity training and emergency response training — such as how to deal with an active shooter.
Gales said some examples of diversity training include how to better accommodate youths and citizens with mental illnesses such as autism.
For topics not covered during initial officer training, the department can conduct specialized trainings.
“There is no specific block of instruction during the academy where they specifically focus on sexual assault,” Gales said.
In 2013, Gales said, DPS did an eight-hour block of instruction on basic sexual assault response.
Sabrina Garcia, a crisis counselor with the Chapel Hill Police Department, taught the training sessions.
“(The training is) based upon a sexual assault response team philosophy in which victim and offender dynamics are talked about, the common and familiar reactions in which victims may display or get impacted by, what type of reports and how to conduct those types of reports and what evidentiary concerns might be important from a patrol level standpoint,” she said.
Gales said new officers have joined DPS in the three years since the training and they are in the process of finding a time to do updated sexual assault response training for all officers.
McCracken said DPS is currently putting an emphasis on clear communication.
“We’re going to be training shortly in verbal judo, which is all about de-escalation when you encounter somebody in a verbal-type confrontation and de-escalate them so it doesn’t become a physical confrontation,” McCracken said.
Gales said the verbal judo training would take place in mid-January.