The purpose of the Field Training Officer (FTO) program is to provide an extension of Academy training in the field. FTOs provide additional learning and real life training experience that cannot be achieved in a classroom environment. The FTO program ensures that once cadets graduate from the CSP Academy, supervised field training will develop the new trooper. FTOs are also responsible for coordinating troop remedial and refresher training, and are specialists in various fields.
Upon completion of Basic Training at the Academy, cadets graduate and become recruit troopers. Recruit troopers will report to their assigned troop approximately two weeks after graduating from the CSP Academy.
The field training program is designed to assist the recruit trooper in applying the classroom knowledge they learned at the Academy to real life situations in the field. FTOs are committed to training and assisting the recruit troopers in successfully achieving their goal of becoming a CSP Trooper.
During Basic Training cadets are assigned a primary FTO and a secondary FTO. The primary FTO will train and evaluate the recruit trooper for weeks 1-5. The secondary FTO will train and evaluate the recruit trooper for weeks 6-8. If training goes beyond week 8, the District Commander decides who will train the recruit trooper, not to exceed a maximum of 12 weeks. The cadets will have contact with both of their assigned FTOs throughout the Academy. This contact enables the cadet to begin building rapport with their FTOs, as well as providing preparation for their 12-week field training process. During the CSP Academy, each cadet will ride along with an FTO.
Field Training Program for Recruit Troopers
FTO Week One
During the first week of FTO training, the Recruit Trooper will observe the FTO by riding as the passenger in the patrol car. The first week of FTO training allows time for the recruit trooper to become familiar with their assigned troop office jurisdiction, and creates an opportunity for the recruit trooper to build working relationships with troopers from their assigned troop.
FTO Week Two
During week two, the FTO begins to evaluate the recruit trooper. At this point the FTO becomes the observing passenger and the recruit trooper becomes the driver.
The recruit trooper will be evaluated in the following areas:
- Appearance, general knowledge and conduct
- Officer safety/auto theft investigation
- Traffic enforcement
- Traffic crash investigation and reporting
- DUI/DUID detection and processing
Recruit troopers must achieve a "standard" rating in all evaluated categories in order to earn the title of trooper. If a recruit trooper achieves a standard rating in all categories, they complete the FTO program in as early as eight weeks. However, if a recruit trooper is unable to successfully achieve a standard rating in all categories by the end of 12 weeks, the recruit trooper will be referred to the District Commander.
Field Training Officers
Field Training Officers go through an extensive process to achieve the title of FTO. First, the trooper should have a minimum of two years of experience and be recommended by their supervisor for the position. A written exam is administered to all of the approved applicants; those who successfully pass the written exam are required to attend a two-week training course known as the FTO Basic Course. The FTO Basic Course focuses on "adult learning" and "adult communication." During the two-week training course, the troopers must successfully pass a second written exam, an assessment center and finally a written practical test. Becoming an FTO takes a lot of dedication and commitment. Currently the Colorado State Patrol has approximately 250 Field Training Officers.
FTO Training Coordinator
The Field Training Officer Program is managed by an FTO Coordinator. The FTO Coordinator, who is located at the Colorado State Patrol Academy, oversees the FTO program in the field for all recruit troopers. The FTO Coordinator is also responsible for training current troopers to become Field Training Officers and ensuring that current FTOs maintain their FTO certification.
Sergeant Jonathan Smith