Field Training Officer Program

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FTOPatchThe Mesa Police Department, in keeping with community expectations for professional police service, has established the Field Training Officer Program. The mission of the Mesa Police Department Field Training Officer Program is to prepare Officers in Training (OITs) to perform the essential duties of a police officer and to enhance the professionalism of patrol divisions through continuous quality improvement.

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The Mesa Police Department Field Officer Program (FTO) currently consists of one full-time Administrative Sergeant, one full-time Administrative Officer, Patrol FTO's and FTO's in various other sworn specialty departments. The Administrative FTO also assists with the Field Training Programs offered to Detention Officers, Dispatchers/911 Operators, Crime Scene Specialists, Civilian Investigators and department Volunteers.

If you need additional information on any of these programs contact the Field Training Unit at or via phone at 480-644-3270.

Program Structure

Our program stresses learning the essential aspects of police work. Other training material that is nice to know but non essential is taught as time and opportunity permit.  Memorization of material that is readily available in books, manuals, and reference handouts has been eliminated with the exception of critical policies (use of force, pursuit, search and seizure, arrests, etc.).  Additionally, we have gone away from a time based program in favor of a program based on requirements and proficiency at those requirements.

Mesa uses a four-phase, nineteen-week FTO Program that exposes the (Officer in Training) OIT to at least three FTOs.  The OIT returns to the first phase FTO during the fourth phase.  An OIT rotates through two of the four districts of the city during the FTO Program.  When the OIT completes the FTO Program, the OIT is assigned to one of the districts.

In years past, the Mesa FTO Program was rigidly structured to last 19 weeks.  The first phase was a 6 week phase, the first week of which was a limbo week without any documentation.  The limbo week assisted the OIT in acclimating to his new environment.  It also gave the FTO a chance to show the OIT his beat and the way that the FTO performed the job.  The second and third phases were each 5 weeks long with one limbo day at the start of each phase.  The first two weeks of the 3 week fourth phase consisted of the FTO's riding with the OIT as an observer and intervening only if the OIT does not comply with the law/policy or was about to cause unnecessary injuries or damage.  The last week of the fourth phase consisted of the OIT in a beat car by himself handling calls on his own.  The FTO rode in a separate patrol car and he would "shadow" the OIT on calls.  From a distance, the FTO would confirm that the OIT was able to handle calls on a solo status in a proficient manner.

Realizing that all people learn at different rates, the Mesa FTO Unit has modified its program to a Proficiency Program, which stresses requirements and proficiency vs. a rigid timeline.  When the OIT completes the phase requirements and is proficient at those requirements, he moves to the next phase.  What were Phase Change Meetings at five, ten, and fifteen weeks are now FTO Change Meetings.  Even if the OIT completes a phase early, the OIT will stay with the same FTO until the next FTO Change Meeting.  If an OIT completes the fourth phase and is ready to go solo, the OIT is assigned to a patrol car to work a beat, but the sergeant still completes the Sergeant's Weekly Evaluation on the OIT through week nineteen of the FTO Program.  In this way, the department has an officer on the street for staffing purposes, but the FTO Unit still has jurisdiction over the OIT if training issues arise. 

Training Resources

National Association of Field Training Officers

Arizona Peace Officer Standards and Training Board (AZPOST)

Commission on Accreditation for Law Enforcement Agencies (CALEA)