In my 23 years of law enforcement I have had the privilege of serving in many different specialty positions. I have been a detective, bicycle officer, Defensive tactics instructor, a TAC officer at the basic law enforcement academy, and a patrol sergeant to name a few. But the one specialty position I found to be the most rewarding was the role of the field training officer. I have worked for two different law enforcement agencies in my career and at both agencies I was an FTO. In fact after my 5 year assignment at the Basic Law Enforcement Academy was completed and I returned to my agency, I reapplied to be an FTO once the position came open. I had the pleasure of training 3 new officers before I was promoted to sergeant.
Why, in my opinion, is FTO such a coveted position? The phrase “I learned that from you!” Those of you who have served in the role of FTO know what this phrase means. It’s that officer that you trained that is now out on their own doing good police work. They have developed a great reputation as a result of hard work and solid ethical standards. They handle their calls with the utmost professionalism and bring a solid reputation to the agency they serve, in the community they provide service to. And when that big arrest comes, that in the administrator world is classified as ‘high speed, low frequency’, they perform to their highest potential, keeping a citizen from becoming a victim and putting a suspect in jail. And when the dust settles and you have the opportunity to recognize the job well done…..They respond with “I learned that from you.”
The first time I heard that from one of my Student Officers I knew this was the position I wanted to stay closely affiliated with as my career progressed. To start with, it is a big vote of confidence by an agency to be selected as an FTO. This is telling that Officer that they like the way they conduct themselves in their daily duties and would like to see those qualities in future officers. It is telling the new officer that this is the professional for which they should try to mold their law enforcement career after.
So when do you stop being an FTO? Answer is never! Another reason that phrase “I learned that from you” is so significant is that the student remembers what they learned and from whom they learned it. You are always going to be the training officer no matter where their career takes them. My current deputy chief relates a story of the first time he ever arrested a subject for driving while license suspended and who he was with. I remember all my field training officers from both agencies I have worked for and I can relate characteristics of my style of policing to each one of them that took the time and effort, and had the patience to see that I was started down the proper path to becoming a solo patrol officer.
I currently am an FTO instructor for the CJTC along with the regional SEA/KING director of NAFTO (National association of Field Training Officers), and the Sergeant in charge of the field training program at my agency.
Sergeant Jeff Eddy
Renton Police Department, Washington State
About Sergeant Jeff Eddy
Sergeant Jeff Eddy has been in law enforcement for 23 years. 17 of those years have been with the City of Renton Police Department. He is currently a sergeant in patrol division. His law enforcement career has focused on working in patrol, having been assigned to specialty positions to include bicycle patrol and Detectives.
In 1994 Jeff was selected as a Field Training Officer. In 2004 he was assigned to the Washington State Criminal Justice Training Center/Basic Law Enforcement Academy as an instructor. While assigned to the CJTC Basic Law Enforcement Academy he instructed criminal procedure for 5 years and was honored with instructor of the year in 2009. Since leaving the CJTC Training Academy Sergeant Eddy is still active in teaching the 9-week On-line equivalency class.
In 2007 he was certified as an FTO instructor in the San Jose Model of field training, teaching and certifying new Field Training Officers. In 2009 he was elected to the executive board of Washington Chapter of the National Association of Field Training Officers serving as the Regional Director for Seattle/King County, Jeff is currently the Field Training Officer Coordinator for the City of Renton Police Department.