May 27, 2020


PERF’s COVID-19 coronavirus resources, including past editions of the Daily COVID-19 Report, are available at


For today’s COVID-19 Report, we asked city and county police training officials about the status of recruit training, remedial training, and in-service training.  They told us that some training programs have been shut down, but they’re managing to keep other programs going, through various combinations of online instruction, in-person classes of limited size, dividing classes into platoons that never come into contact with each other, and postponing certain classes while moving forward on others.


Key Takeaways

-- Some recruit training can be conducted online. Agencies are creating online versions of recruit training that normally occurs in the classroom. While something is lost without the in-person interaction, instructors can still present the required material.

-- Other recruit training needs to happen in person.  Some agencies are continuing in-person training on defensive tactics, firearms, and scenario-based exercises.  Agencies are taking steps to keep recruits safe while conducting that training, including requiring PPE, keeping recruits spread out, and limiting how many other individuals they contact.

-- Agencies are continuing to conduct remedial in-service training in person. Training in person comes with risks, but remedial training is considered a high priority.

-- Agencies are moving as much in-service training online as possible. Many state-mandated and other in-service trainings can be done online, though firearms certification and some other training may need to be done in person.


Camden County, NJ Capt. Kevin Lutz:

We’ve Made a Lot of Changes, Because We Can’t Stop Training Altogether

We suspended all non-mandatory in-service training, which meant anything that wasn’t coming out of internal affairs. We felt it was very important to continue with the internal affairs function. We didn’t want to go months without addressing real-time issues as they came up. We continued with remedial training as issues came up about officers’ job performance, but we stopped things like our simulator training and firearms training. We made sure that the officers who were coming in for training were abiding by all the state protocols about distancing.

We really didn’t skip a beat in switching to online training at the Training Academy, which is a credit to Sgt. Anthony Aceto and our academy staff. That wasn’t the case statewide. Academy directors throughout the state had differing opinions about training online. We felt that we could accomplish it without any loss in the quality of the training they were receiving, and we were very successful. Our academy falls under the local community college, so the college helped us utilize the platform they use for their online learning.  It’s not the same as in-person training, but we delivered everything we usually teach in the classroom to the best of our ability.

Self-defense, physical training, and everything else that requires in-person training was put on hold.

All this is not without its challenges, but we are first responders, and there are things we have to do. We should use the precautions recommended by the state, but we can’t stop training altogether. In Camden, we can’t stop putting officers on the street.

Camden County, NJ Sgt. Anthony Aceto:  We took on the responsibility of holding recruits accountable every day. Our classes run from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. four days a week. We hold an online roll call with a uniform inspection every morning at 7 a.m. We have class leaders, platoon leaders, and squad leaders, just like we would if they were in person.


Burlington, NC Lt. Shelly Katkowski:

We’ve Been Able to Work with Limiting Groups to 10 People

Our regional academy is held at one of our training facilities that is closed to the public, so we were able to continue recruit training. Our graduation ceremony is coming up, and we’re trying to have some type of ceremony for them.

We have an executive order limiting groups to 10 people, so we had to split our class into separate classrooms and use technology to stream the instruction into the other classroom.

We’re fortunate, because we’ll have those recruits on the street in six months. I know a lot of organizations had to discontinue their academies, which I could foresee leading to problems in the future.

For our state mandates, North Carolina has an online training portal, and we’re able to do a lot of the training mandated for state certification online. Our agency has an additional 70 hours of supplemental training – active shooter, driving, de-escalation, reality-based training, range practice. Those are all physical skills, and for the last three months we haven’t been able to do them. We’re starting to get concerned about liability for failure to train, so we’re looking for ways to open up small group training at the range.

We have continued remedial training with small groups of no more than three when necessary. We think some things are worth the risk when it comes to training and deficiencies on the street, because if you don’t address those, somebody could get hurt.

We split our patrol unit into an A platoon and a B platoon. If you’re on A, you should never come into contact with B. When we do those small group trainings, we make sure that there’s no integrating those platoons.

We try to do training outside at an offsite facility, with instructors using masks and officers using PPE for any type of reality-based scenario where they have to go hands-on to show proficiency. There are some things that can’t be taught online and have to be done physically, and it’s important to teach these skills, because not having them would create greater risks for the officers and the public.


Riverside, CA Lt. Dan Warren:

I Don’t Think Most COVID-Related Changes Will Continue When It’s Over

California is still running academies. I just read a memo from California POST saying that they’re no longer exposing people to OC spray, because they don’t want to compromise people’s respiratory systems.

Our local academy is doing a lot of demonstrations for things like defensive tactics. They’re still doing firearms training.

Our agency shut down everything except firearms in the beginning. We have our own range and are still doing firearms training. With new recruits, we’re having them shadowbox instead of going toe-to-toe with somebody for defensive tactics training. We’re asking instructors to demonstrate ground techniques, but we’re not forcing people to practice on the ground right now.

We have an upcoming remedial training, and that’s going to be conducted as if we weren’t in the middle of this pandemic. When we have someone in the street who needs more options, we’re going to provide those options the same way we would have last year.

We normally conduct advanced officer training every month, and we shut that down for two months. We’re trying to start it back up in June, but we’re waiting for the governor to further relax restrictions.

High-level classes are being finished online. I was in a lieutenants’ class that involves reading and writing about leadership, so that could be done online, but it wasn’t the same as being able to go there and have discussions.

We were already doing a lot of online training for things like POST-mandated classes, legal updates, and first aid and CPR, with an in-person practical afterwards.

So we already do some training online, but I don’t see that advancing much further as a result of the pandemic.


Commander Tad Williams, Macon County, IL Law Enforcement Training Center:

A Residential Academy Has Its Own Challenges

The Macon County Law Enforcement Training Center is a state-certified and state-owned academy based in Macon County, Illinois.

We are a residential academy, and our students stay here Sunday evening through Friday evening. We knew that COVID changes were coming, so we suspended the weekends off and said everyone had to stay here full-time. We’re not open to the public, so they weren’t going to interact with anyone but our instructors. All our instructors signed a form saying that they would self-quarantine at home, and some instructors were staying here 24/7, like the students.

But on March 17, we were told that we still had to shut down. It took us a week to shut down and convert to online. We had two academies in the house – our senior academy with 69 and our junior academy with 31. They’re both online now. We kept asking to bring the senior academy back, and we were finally able to bring them in to complete the 10 hours of firearms training they still needed to be certified. Then we did firearms with our junior class. Now we’ve developed policies for bringing back our senior class to finish the hands-on material and graduate.

The first group of 24 just got here. They each had to take a COVID-19 test within five days of coming to the academy. They’re each living in individual rooms; we can’t have more than 10 to a classroom; and we must have at least 100 square feet per person in those classrooms. They can put their hands on each other during training exercises, but they’re paired with the same other person for all their training and that pair has to stay on the same mat.


Deputy Commander Tom Schneider, Macon County, IL Law Enforcement Training Center:

COVID Is Changing the Nature of the Product We Provide

Many agencies want their recruits out there on the road fully trained, but we can only do this training incrementally.

We’re now providing a product that goes against how we were made and what we were trying to establish. For example, being a paramilitary-type academy, normally we don’t allow them to have their phones in the residential hall. Now that we have them in their individual rooms and we’re not allowing them to socialize in any manner whatsoever, we’re allowing them to have their phones overnight. So we’re changing some of the things we’ve done, and it changes the product we’re putting out there.

We had our lawyer come in for four hours of training, and we set up our students in separate classrooms, so that there weren’t more than 10 people in a room. She taught one classroom in person, and that instruction was livestreamed to another classroom. Then she switched to teaching the other classroom in person, while the first room connected through Zoom. That way both classrooms received some in-person instruction.

The most important part is to have a connection with them, so that they know they’re not forgotten by the academy.


Louisville Metro, KY Officer Justin Witt:

We’re Continuing Some In-Person Training, With Smaller Classes

We house our own academy within the police department, and we don’t have outside agencies that come to our academy for recruit training. When the pandemic started, we had a recruit class of 41.

We also conduct in-service training at our academy for Louisville and other smaller agencies in Jefferson County.

When the pandemic started, we stopped all in-service training. Only the recruit class and their instructors came into our training facility. We spread out the recruits so they could spread out throughout the room, so there was one recruit for every 3-4 seats. We’ve been able to meet our state’s social distancing requirements and keep those recruits in-house.

We’ve changed the order of our basic academy to try to limit contact. We split the class into two groups. One half did all their off-site training, like firearms and radios, while the other half was here at the academy.

The Kentucky governor has issued a waiver, so we do not have to hold the state’s mandated in-service training this year. But we’re still putting out that training. We’re discussing expanding our online training portals, and we might train 15-20 officers at a time in person, instead of the usual 50.


Cambridge, MA Officer Cam Deane:

Online Is Not the Same, But It Isn’t Terrible

When the state shut everything down, they allowed us to continue for another week to get everyone graduated. Our academy is partnered with Northeastern University, so we used the Northeastern campus. We spread the class out with one person for every six chairs. We used the field house to spread people out for hands-on training. Having the campus allowed us to spread out in a way that others may not be able to.

The state did shut us down completely, and we’re still on lockdown. We were told on a Thursday that we weren’t going to be able to hold in-person classes the following Monday, so we spent the weekend setting up something on Zoom.

We do a roll call on Zoom at 6 a.m. and then an online hour-long workout, then they shower and get ready and we do a formal roll call again at 8:15.

It’s not ideal. You lose some of the esprit de corps that you have in the academy. During the workouts, people don’t have the extra motivation of someone standing right in front of them. And it doesn’t replace the classroom interaction. But it isn’t terrible. 


The PERF Daily COVID-19 Report is part of the Critical Issues in Policing project, supported by the Motorola Solutions Foundation.


PERF also is grateful to the Howard G. Buffett Foundation for supporting PERF’s COVID-19 work.

Police Executive Research Forum
1120 Connecticut Avenue NW, Suite 930
Washington, DC 20036
(202) 466-7820