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Recruit Training Programme – Its Impact on Behaviour of
By Vernon Francois
Assistant Commissioner of Police (A.C.P)
B.Sc. (Hons) Management Studies (U.W.I)
The Royal St. Lucia Police Force is by its nature a service oriented
organization with the principal functions of protection of life
and property, prevention and detection of crimes, detection, pursuit
and arrest of offenders and the preservation of the peace.
To perform the functions alluded to above, the Force operates
through people who comprise its membership. The success or otherwise
of the Force is heavily dependant on its membership.
Invariably persons who seek entry into the Police Force are from
diverse backgrounds and socialization. They are individuals who
differ in terms of personality, attitude, aptitude, learning and
perception. These factors would have undoubtedly shaped their
outlook on life and consequently their behaviour. It is expected
that they would bring these influences into the Police Department
and it would determine to a large extent how they behave in the
The Royal St. Lucia Police Force, like any other organization,
has a shared system of beliefs, which keeps its members together.
Notwithstanding the differences alluded to above, a concerted
effort is made to socialize Police Officers into the culture of
the Police Force. This process typically commences during the
initial or recruit training and is generally aimed at influencing
the behaviour of Police Officers.
But to what extent does the recruit training process influence
the behaviour of members of the Royal St. Lucia Police Force?
How much is it reasonable to expect that Police Officers, subsequent
to their initial training, deviate from their earlier socialization
and adopt the culture and behaviour dictated by the Police Department.
The Royal St. Lucia Police Force Training School is the initial
Police Training Institution for the Police Force. Persons who
attain the Force’s entry requirements are expected to undergo
a six months initial training programme. The programme is aimed
at converting “Raw Civilians” from the referred to
diverse background and socialization, among other factors, into
the culture of the Police Force. The training usually takes the
form of classroom sessions, physical exercises, military training
and drills. It is anticipated that during the training period,
enforcement of discipline would be paramount.
The recruits are expected to comply with the rigid training programme
as it determines whether they graduate into the Police Department.
At the end of the training period, the recruits are also expected
to be fully ‘acculturated’ into Policing and subservient
to authority. They are supposed to behave like Police Officers.
Regardless of the well-intentioned efforts of the initial training
programme, the recruit from the Police Training School who graduates
into a full-fledged member of the Royal St. Lucia Police Force,
shows occasional glimpses of his or her earlier socialization.
This is reflected on a daily basis by reports of Police Officers
who are involved in wrong doings either criminal or otherwise.
It must be noted that a majority of Police Officers who comprise
the Police Force, behave and continue to behave in an exemplary
manner and this can arguably be attributed to the initial training
programme conducted at the Police Training School.
How much can the initial training programme impact on the behaviour
of Police Officers? What about other factors? The training period
at the Training School is relatively short. As such, a situation
is engendered where there is so much to do in so little time.
The natural tendency is to coerce Police Recruits into compliance
through the use of drills and other means of restrictive control.
Invariably, Police Officers who are coerced into conforming would
be improperly socialized and the consequence is inappropriate
behaviour, which impacts negatively on the public image of the
Drills and other means of restrictive control have a place in
the initial training of recruits. However, it is difficult to
construe that drill by itself can in any meaningful way influence
behaviour. The Police authorities should be careful that Police
recruits do not adhere to the regimental style just for training
purposes and as soon as they are out of the Training School, they
revert to their normal and sometimes inappropriate behaviour.
Thankfully, Police Officers are, generally speaking, properly
socialized into the culture of the Police Force and they are able
to harmonize what they learn outside of the Police Force with
the initial Training Programme.
There will, however, be continuous instances where Police Officers
would stray from the expected appropriate behaviour. Such a situation
is not unique to the Police Department. All efforts should be
made to discourage negative behaviour through punishment and encourage
acceptable behaviour through rewards.
There must also be recognition of the work, which has to be conducted
on human behaviour by Behavioral Scientist and Sociologists. They
have expended countless hours in attempting to ascribe reasons
why human beings, Police Officers included, behave the way in
which they do. These factors range from the individual’s
early socialization, to biological factors and from environmental
factors to the make up of the individual. New entrants into the
Police Force would have been influenced by some, if not all of
the mentioned factors.
The initial training programme has the capacity to influence
the behaviour of the members of the Police Force. Modification
of the training programme should take the form of a longer training
period, coupled with a de-emphasizing of drills as a means of
discipline. Emphasis should be placed on behaviour related subjects,
whereby Police Officers would, through learning, develop a greater
appreciation of behaviour, which would ultimately benefit the
Police Department and the country in general.