U.S. flag

An official website of the United States government, Department of Justice.

NCJRS Virtual Library

The Virtual Library houses over 235,000 criminal justice resources, including all known OJP works.
Click here to search the NCJRS Virtual Library

Learning the Skills of Policing

NCJ Number
Law and Contemporary Problems Volume: 47 Issue: 4 Dated: (Autumn 1984) Pages: 35-59
D H Bayley; E Bittner
Date Published
25 pages
Progress in police training will occur by focusing on the particularities of police work as experienced and performed by veteran officers and by analyzing that experience as the basis for training future officers.
On-the-job police experience contributes to learning about goals (which ones are reasonable), tactics (which ones ensure the achievement of different goals in varying circumstances), and presence (how to cultivate a career-sustaining personality). Training can help apprentices become master craftspersons faster and with direction. To achieve this, formal training programs should give more attention to the problematic nature of police work, and master craftspersons should be used as field instructors for rookies. Learning can also be continual and cumulative based on analyzed experience. Assuming that experience is valuable in learning about police work, departments should reward advancement in skill development. The benefits of yoking formal training and policing experience are improved morale among patrol officers, the development of techniques for measuring degrees of skill, and the professionalization of policing by objectifying degrees of proficiency. 38 footnotes.