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Swedish Police Selection and Training: Issues From a Comparative Perspective

NCJ Number
Policing Volume: 21 Issue: 2 Dated: 1998 Pages: 280-292
V B Lord
Date Published
13 pages
This paper compares Swedish and American police selection and training.
Since the Swedish police are national, they have standardized pay, basic training, and preliminary selection procedures. In the United States, each State has implemented minimum training and selection procedures, but any training beyond the rudimentary level depends on the local department's budget. The Swedish police departments conduct reference checks on applicants, but they apparently do not conduct thorough background checks. With few exceptions, even the smallest departments in the United States conduct such background checks of a potential officer. In Sweden, interviews are considered reliable and important parts of the selection process. There are several major differences between the United States and Swedish police training, ranging from total basic training hours to types of training. Besides the abbreviated 14-20 weeks training in the United States compared to the Swedish 3-year basic training, the focus of the training is different. Ninety percent of the United States' basic police training focuses on enforcement competency. Sweden, on the other hand, emphasizes the actual job tasks of conflict resolution and crisis management, with attention to the study of human behavior and interpersonal communications. The Swedish recruit receives almost 300 hours of social science, human relations, and psychology; the typical U.S. officer receives less than 200 hours of training in these subjects. Similar to the United States, the Swedish field experience provides the new officer initial one-on-one training with a supervisor, but Sweden then provides new officers the additional opportunity to work as a social worker or judicial official. The final 20 weeks of formal training in Sweden is not replicated in the United States. The final 20 weeks of training after the new officers have been practicing their new profession is critical for ensuring these officers are committed to norms and values deemed acceptable by the national police. Future trends in the selection and training of police in Sweden and the United States are also discussed. 6 notes and 24 references