Message to Stakeholders
April 20, 2020
The purpose of this letter is to keep you apprised of the work being accomplished by the Washington State Criminal Justice Training Commission’s (WSCJTC) during the COVID-19 pandemic.
CURRENT STATUS OF BASIC LAW ENFORCEMENT ACADEMY TRAINING (BLEA)
Our top goal right now is to ensure a safe and healthy environment for our staff and recruits and avoid further disruption of training. It is critically important that we continue to prepare new police recruits to replace officers in the field who are at risk or become ill, as well as the rapidly growing number of veteran officers who are eligible and likely to retire this year. We need to preserve officer staffing levels to maintain safety, public trust, and cooperation so we can slow the spread of the virus during the current state of emergency.
The campus of the Criminal Justice Training Commission was closed on March 16th. Prior to that date and in the ensuing 4 weeks, no recruit or staff member has tested positive for COVID-19. We continue to monitor the situation daily. We do NOT want to open the campus prematurely and go through a second shutdown process, creating further delays. Our current training delivery plan will enable many recruits to complete their training within a month of their originally scheduled graduation dates.
By the end of this summer, we expect to be back on schedule and able to deliver all 21 classes for which we received funding through July 2021. We are already planning for an economic downturn that will likely reduce the number of applications for BLEA training by December 2020. The slower rate of applications will enable us to fill all funded classes with pending applicants from the large backlog that has plagued us since 2013.
ACCOMPLISHMENTS DURING THE CAMPUS SHUT DOWN
Just before closing on March 16th we were able to accelerate final testing for BLEA class 798. We held an impromptu graduation that evening for 30 students and sent them back to their home agencies. That left 11 classes (330 recruits) suspended at various stages of their 19-week program.
The CJTC staff and trainers immediately went into “Apollo 13” style problem-solving mode. I am very proud to say they have developed some extraordinary ideas for addressing the immediate challenge of close contact training during the COVID emergency. Some of those innovations will improve our training delivery model into the future. Since March 16th they have accomplished the following:
- Re-written the Control and Defensive Tactics Program (C/DT) to eliminate the practice of 90 recruits wrestling together in the same gym every day, creating an unacceptable contagion exposure
- Created training videos to equip agency trainers to deliver C/DT training to small groups in the field
- Accelerated the integration of C/DT and Patrol De-Escalation Tactics, in compliance with the Law Enforcement and Community Safety Act (I-940)
- Converted many classroom lessons to an online delivery format for remote training
- Posted materials online for local agency trainers to deliver to recruits awaiting return to campus
Further, CJTC staff traveled around the state to conduct final testing for the 30 recruits in class 799, all of whom graduated last week! Class 800 will follow suit in about two weeks. From March 16th - April 30th nearly 90 recruits will have completed their training and returned to serve their communities.
Class 804, being delivered at the Spokane PD Training Center, was suspended when that facility closed on March 16th. CJTC’s Spokane team has developed a plan to restart in early May and will allow class 804 recruits to graduate within a month of their originally scheduled date.
We anticipate a limited return of students to campus beginning the week of May 11th. The specific return date for each class has not yet been finalized and is predicated on our ability to implement strict safety protocols to protect the recruits and our staff. Those protocols include a requirement for recruits to report for class wearing N95 masks and protective gloves, submit to a temperature check, and respond to a brief health survey each day. All training and mealtime protocols will be altered to maintain small groups and reduce the amount of contact between recruit classes.
We are currently testing methods to deliver a significant portion of their training online. If those methods are effective, we may be able to reduce the amount of time recruits spend on campus and the numbers on campus at the same time.
We sincerely appreciate the patience and flexibility of our stakeholders and partners as we navigate this new challenge of balancing the safety of recruits and staff with the growing public safety need to prepare new officers to serve in their communities. For additional information please contact Executive Director, Sue Rahr, at email@example.com.
Message to Stakeholders
March 25, 2020
The student in class 801 that was suspected of having the COVID virus learned today that his test was NEGATIVE! This is a huge relief to him, his family, agency, classmates, and trainers. While we can all heave a sigh of relief, please remain diligent in monitoring your recruits that were sent back from the academy and have them complete the 14-day self-quarantine that we recommended. We are working very hard to modify our BLEA training delivery so that your recruits from classes 802 and higher can return to a safe training environment. CJTC staff will need to know that when the recruits return they were unlikely to have been exposed to COVID during their absence. We are currently working on protocols for re-admitting recruits to complete their BLEA training when we re-open the campus
Message to Stakeholders
March 24, 2020
A recruit from BLEA class 801 has reported symptoms that indicate he has COVID. We are awaiting test results right now. I will be sending an email to each recruit and agency rep in that class before the end of the day. I strongly urge that members of that class maintain the recommended 14-day self-quarantine through March 30. For agencies whose recruits did not self-quarantine, please take appropriate steps to notify those with whom your recruit has had contact since returning to your agency.
We will continue daily monitoring the health of each recruit that was on campus the day we closed and will keep all stakeholders informed of any similar cases or other information about health risks.
General Information About Suspension of Training
The CJTC campus remains closed for training but the entire staff is working quickly and diligently (remotely) to create ways to get current BLEA recruits through their training and testing and back out to the field as quickly as possible. We recognize the critical need to provide additional staffing during the current crisis.
BLEA trainers are working directly with local agency trainers to assist with delivering the remaining blocks of training to classes 799, 800, and 801. Some training will be delivered using distance learning technology. BLEA staff will travel to the agencies to conduct final testing.
There are many agencies that have recruits in classes 802 and above. Those classes have a significant amount of BLEA training left to complete and much of it cannot be delivered remotely. Those recruits will need to return to the academy and will be 30+ days behind their scheduled graduation date. We encourage those agencies, while CJTC training is suspended, to assign recruits to a training car where the recruit functions primarily as an observer.
There is value in their bringing that experience back and applying it to the remainder of their BLEA training. This training model is applied by WSP and other academies across the country. In some cases, this may allow FTO/PTO training to be accelerated after BLEA is complete. Another option is for agencies to begin the agency specific training that often follows BLEA (sometimes referred to as “post BLEA”). Please let us know if there is anything, we can do to provide input and support.
We are considering information from public health and guidance from the state and federal government each day whether we will be able to resume BLEA and other training on April 13. We are optimistic that we can achieve that goal and will keep you informed. That decision will balance the health and safety of our staff and students with the public safety need to put additional officers on the street. A dilemma I’m sure all our law enforcement partners are facing every day.