Mobile Team In-Service Training provides many benefits to participating units of government, to their law enforcement agencies, and to their individual officers. Several such benefits are briefly outlined below.
First and foremost, all benefit as the officer becomes better trained to perform his/her assigned job duties. An officer who is well trained and professional in his/her approach to the job will be a definite asset to the department, as well as to the community. Human development and the continued upgrading of job skill and knowledge is a necessary requisite for achieving and maintaining professionalism in law enforcement. The establishment of a Mobile Team In-Service Training Unit provides the structure by which permanent law enforcement officers are able to receive “continued training” throughout their careers.
Affordability is a second benefit of mobile team in-service training. Illinois, as well as other states, is comprised of a multiplicity of local law enforcement agencies, many being quite small. The Illinois Police Census indicates that, “there are one thousand two hundred and sixty-eight police departments in Illinois with at least one full-time sworn officer. Two hundred and eighty-one municipalities have only one officer, and an additional four hundred and twenty have two to ten officers on the force. This means that fifty-five percent of the municipalities of the state are policed by ten officers or less.” These smaller agencies often lack sufficient budget allocations to allow non-basic in-service training expenditures for their officers. Training is expensive. First, it involves tuition and travel costs for the officer. Second, the manpower loss to the department while the officer is attending training is considerable. Either the department has to hire a person to replace the officer in his/her absence, which is financially burdening, or the department simply does not replace the officer and the loss is not financial, but is in reduced services to the community. Mobile Team In-Service Training is structured so that undue strain is not placed upon department budgets. Monies are allocated in such a fashion so that cost does not become a prohibitive factor acting to preclude agency participation. Also, since training courses are delivered on a local basis, as opposed to a centralized state academy, the officers do not have to leave the community, or even the department, in order to attend in-service training courses. Time and money losses due to travel are eliminated or reduced, and this reduction ultimately results in budgetary savings to the department. The training cost savings feature of the mobile team structure makes it very attractive to local governmental officials and to law enforcement administrators.
Availability is a third major benefit accrued as a result of instituting mobile team in-service training. As stated previously, the Board funds 16 mobile team units, which collective have the capability to serve every Illinois jurisdiction. This established training network is capable of delivering programs to every permanent law enforcement officer in Illinois. Training and learning opportunities are made available to law enforcement agencies, and law enforcement officers may take full advantage of them. This wide-range training availability is a unique advantage of mobile team unit participation.
A fourth benefit is related to the availability of training which is the accessibility of training. Mobile team units provide training that is easily obtainable. Mobile team training is provided to local law enforcement agencies in their back yards, so to speak, and is flexible as to its training delivery design. One of the goals of mobile team training is to conduct courses within short travel distances of the participating department. Courses may be scheduled any time of the day, and often during the evening and/or midnight shift. Courses may be scheduled in time blocks from one hour to a full-day session, from several days to two or three weeks. Courses are arranged to accommodate the specific needs and schedules of the departments and their personnel. The emphasis on accessibility allows law enforcement to make maximum use of manpower resources, while allowing for training to occur concurrently.
A fifth benefit of mobile team training is that it is structured to allow for local governmental control. Although the Board is responsible for the administration of the Act, the Board has opted to minimize its level of control over the individual mobile team units. The State Board has assumed a position of non-interference with regard to the day-to-day operations of the mobile team units. The Board focuses its efforts in the areas of: reviewing and approving annual mobile team unit applications for funding; coordinating the overall actions of the mobile team units; providing a means for the annual conduct of a statewide training needs analysis study; and evaluating the overall effectiveness of mobile team unit operations. It is the philosophy of the State Board that individual mobile team units must set their own goals and objectives, within the scope of the Act, and then implement the administrative and operational structures necessary to achieve those goals and objectives. Each mobile team is controlled by an advisory board composed of a representative number of county board chairmen, mayors, chiefs of police, and sheriffs of participating units of local government. The composition and number of each advisory board is determined by the participants. Local control allows for the development and administration of training programs that are designed to meet the unique and special needs of law enforcement in a given geographical area. This asset of local control contributes to the overall quality of the training program. The mobile team unit truly belongs to the participating departments and units of local government.
Finally, a sixth benefit of mobile team unit training is that it provides a structure for the delivery of “quality” instruction. Topics of instruction and course curricula are limited only by the imagination and by dictated need. Each mobile team unit is provided with funding for the continued development and refinement of training programs and courses. In addition, a substantial sum of monies is provided for “instructional contract services.” The mobile team units have the freedom and autonomy to contract with individuals as well as public and private law enforcement academies and training enterprises for the delivery of specific training courses. Consequently, the finest instructors from throughout the state and from throughout the country can be hired to conduct courses within the service region. For example, John Jay College of Criminal Justice, Northwestern University Traffic Institute, Southern Police Training Institute, the University of Illinois Police Training Institute, the Institute of Police Technology and Management, and others, regularly provide instruction and programs of training through the mobile team unit structure. In addition, selected courses from the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Drug Enforcement Administration, the Illinois Department of State Police and other federal and state agencies are scheduled and conducted on a regular basis. This flexibility in hiring and in scheduling allows each mobile team unit to hire the best and enhance overall quality of training.