If you want to become a sworn law enforcement officer in Arizona, you will need to be certified by AzPOST, the Arizona Police Officers Standards and Training board.
AzPOST requires a minimum of 585 hours of training to become a police officer, and it offers a waiver process for transfers of officers from other state to Arizona.
If 585 hours sounds like a lot of time, it is — the equivalent of about 14 full-time 40 hour weeks.
But as long as that is, it pales in comparison to the amount of training the state requires for other professions.
Want to be an electrician in Arizona? It will take you five years, or 8,000 hours, of on-the-job training and 900 hours of related classroom instruction to be able to qualify to work independently and to hold a contractor’s license.
How about a cosmetologist? You’ll need 1,600 hours of training to be licensed.
A barber? 1,500 hours.
That’s a lot more training time than is required of a police officer who carries weapons and can make arrests.
This is why departments also require training at the Northern Arizona Regional Training Academy, which is an 800-hour program.
“Those who desire to work at YCSO (and other local law enforcement agencies) as a new recruit, will attend the NARTA academy which provides a more comprehensive training program designed to address law enforcement needs in a rural environment,” said Yavapai County Sheriff’s spokesman Dwight D’Evelyn. “There is extensive additional training in use of force, force de-escalation, mental health, cultural awareness, (and) tactics.”
There’s also on-going training and re-currency qualification held at the department level.
“AzPOST requires us to have eight hours of continuing education each year and eight hours of proficiency training every three years. We typically far exceed that,” said David Fuller, spokesman for the Prescott Police Department. “Additionally the City of Prescott and Prescott PD requires additional training above and beyond what AzPOST requires such as sexual harassment, safety, (and) OSHA.”
“We are, minimally, to qualify with our duty weapon one time annually by state standards and perform a discretionary shoot — it is a ‘shoot-don’t-shoot’ situation that we put staff through. We utilize a simulator for this scenario judgmental situation,” Chino Valley Police Lt. Vince Schaan said. “Those are the state mandated minimums our agency provides and requires more than the state mandated minimums.”
Prescott Valley Police spokesman Jerry Ferguson said PVPD officers are constantly training.
“This takes place weekly and monthly, some in-house; some off property,” he said. “Some areas include understanding mental health issues; family violence issues; criminal investigations; traffic stops — including high risk; search-and-seizure updates; defensive tactics; officer safety and public safety; and de-escalation practices.”
The Yavapai County Sheriff’s Office holds specific classes dedicated to subjects their deputies may encounter, said D’Evelyn. (See other story.)
“Each year, portions of the training are tailored to topics that may be unique to a particular agency — (for example) the handling of fentanyl,” he said. “Additionally, deputies are provided special training programs outside the 40 hour requirement during the year. One recent example is the mental health and law enforcement courses we have been offering patrol personnel with the help of facilitator specialists from local healthcare providers.”
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