Training Academy

Mission:  The Memphis Police Training Academy Staff is determined to remain disciplined and dedicated to the vast educational and training efforts.  Working together as a team, with objectives in hand, the Academy Staff successfully contributed to the overall objectives and goals of the Memphis Police Department.

Firearms Training Unit

When the Memphis Police Department decided to select a new autoloader, it was unusually tough. After an exhaustive program of reliability and usability testing, the Memphis Police Department selected the SIG P229 autoloader in .40 S& W to arm its officers in 2004. Many officers expressed concerns about the reliability of their duty firearm. Officers suffered a number of malfunctions during training and in the field.

The Firearms Training Unit Staff shared the same concerns and determined that the malfunctions were neither operator nor ammunition related. In late 2001 former Deputy Director James Bolden granted approval for a new duty handgun-testing program to begin. Competition for large city, state, and federal contracts is intense among gun makers, ammunition companies and holster makers. An important contract can literally change the face of a handgun choice nationwide. It is not uncommon for those who do not win to contest the program's results in court, therefore the test program must be valid, verifiable and repeatable. The instrument for testing was approved by the FTU commander after a thorough legal review.

The test was developed from a modified version of the 1998 Ohio State Patrol's gun test. This test was so complete, on every level that it is almost surprising. The MPD test is an example of a test not easily repeated. By the same token, it would be difficult to justify a choice not backed by similar testing. The SIG P229 is one of the most reliable combat handguns of all times. MPD stipulated each handgun be double-action-only, have at least an 8 to 9# trigger pull weight, have tritium night sights, and preferably have some type of magazine safety. The Sig P229 has all of these features, plus Hogue grips, an ambidextrous magazine release button, an adjustable length of trigger pull with two lengths, and an accessory rail on the frame's dust cover.

Forty MPD officers were selected for the test and evaluation process that began on January 13, 2003. These offices were a representative sample of the entire department with differing years of service, marksmanship ability, body composition, eyesight, race, and gender. They were grouped into sub-categories based on In-Service Qualification scores. Ten were above average shooters, ten average shooters, and twenty were below average shooters. All test groups fired the .40 caliber SIG P229, SIG PRO 2340, S & W 99QA, S & W 4046, and GLOCK 22. Standards pertaining to reliability, accuracy and trigger action have previously been developed by the National Institute of Justice. These standards call for 300 trouble free rounds between cleanings. As it is, this is the minimal standard. The first group of officer raters began firing on January 13, 2003. These 40 officers were selected as the test sample group based on years of service, marksmanship ability, gender, age, race, eye sight, and body composition. The 40 officers were divided into four groups of ten officers each with one group of above average shooters, one of average shooters, and two groups of below average shooters. Each group was assigned to the FTU for one week of intense testing and evaluation of the five candidates. Each group started in the classroom with a safety lecture and an extensive nomenclature class on all five test pistols.

Captain Tom Parrett, Gunsmith Steve Betz, and Reserve Officer Tene Alissandratos recorded any malfunctions during the testing, which included all the required courses of fire for officers' annual In-Service Training. Each pistol make/model had 12,000 rounds fired during the officer test for a total 60,000 rounds. This is broken down as follows: 300 rounds x 10 guns per model x 5 models x 4 test groups = 60,000 rds total. The Sig Pro 2340 and S & W 4046 were eliminated in the officer test due to excessive malfunctions and did not undergo further testing. After the officer testing was completed and data compiled, two firearms were randomly selected from each test model. The two (2) firearms were then fired for a total of 9600 rounds.1200 + 9600 = 10,800 rounds / 300 rounds between cleanings. This was the torture test phase of the testing. At 300 rounds annually, an average officer will only fire 3000 rounds over a ten-year period.

The following breakdown is an approximate round count for each officer on an annual basis, not including individual practice sessions: 100 on duty; 50 dimlight; 33 flashlight for 183 total plus approximately 70-80 rds of training/drills equals approximately 250 rounds annually. Malfunctions were the primary disqualifying factor for a particular weapon. Other factors were grip ergonomics, adjustability for different hand sizes, and placement of weapon controls, i.e. slide stop lever and magazine release button. Most of all, the scope of this test shows the administration did not shortchange troops with a weapon bought on a low bid, but followed stringent, structured test criteria for selection of the new duty handgun and followed through with the purchase of the best, although not the least expensive, weapon that was tested.

The 89th and 90th Basic Police Session is the first group of officers issued the new duty handguns. Issuing the .40 Caliber Sigarms Model P229 to the recruit classes first, allowed the Firearms Training Unit to duplicate the original test results, but with a much larger test sample. The combined classes, totaling 158 Recruits, fired and additional 1300 rounds of .40 caliber ammunition through each gun. They fired everything from static range qualification courses to dynamic combat shooting courses. Officers will have the opportunity to purchase the issued Smith & Wesson Duty Handguns under the provisions of the City of Memphis Code of Ordinances. The purchase price for the guns will be determined by competitive bids submitted by authorized Law Enforcement Bidders.

Recruiting Team

The Recruiting Team has done a tremendous job in the past year in regards to increasing the Department's recruiting efforts. The recruiters are responsible for attending in-state and out-of-state career and job fairs, and assisting potential applicants with current and future employment processes. As the City of Memphis continues to enhance police services, recruiting quality officers will remain the recruiters primary objective.

As a result of the "Women in Policing" page, which was added to on our web-site in 2002, our police department has been able to recruit, test and hire female applicants from various areas nationwide.

The Recruiting Team was able to fulfill one of our goals by offering two out-of-town on-site recruiting and testing events. Both events were a success.

Employment Team

The Employment Team is responsible for conducting background investigations on Police, PST, Police Radio Dispatcher, Police Reserve, City Personnel, Fire Department and Second Chance applicants. Additionally, the Employment Team conducts background investigations for numerous applicants for jobs in other divisions of City Government. The quality of background investigations and the integrity of the Memphis Police Department are dependent upon the professionalism and skill displayed by the Academy's background investigators.

Field Training Officer Program

In 1993, the Memphis Police Department implemented a Field Training Officer program as a means of continuing the training of newly commissioned police officers. The goal of the Field Training Officer (FTO) program is to produce well trained police officers. The FTO program operates on the premise that by providing a consistent, standardized training environment in which learning and daily evaluation can stimulate and nurture new officers, the quality of new police officers will improve. As a result, the citizens of Memphis benefit from the most competent and professional officers possible.

The FTO program is the third phase of the Memphis Police Department's comprehensive, training program. Before entering the Field Training Officer Program, new employees must successfully complete the Academy's Police Service Technician and Basic Police Recruit Training programs. Upon completing the Academy's basic curriculum, new officers continue training for sixteen weeks under the tutelage of an experienced officer. These experienced officers, FTOs, are responsible for all aspects of the continued training and development of the new officer.

Upon successful completion of the first eighty days of training with an FTO, new officers continue training for the remainder of their one year probationary period. During the FTO Program, the Academy monitors the progress of probationary officers from information gathered from FTOs in the form of Daily Observation Reports, End of phase Reports, and Monthly Evaluations of the new officers from the supervisor's.

The Academy Field Training Officer Coordinator, working in tandem with the Uniform Patrol FTO Coordinator, monitors the continued training and development of probationary police officers. The management and supervision of the Field Training Officer program is a cooperative effort between the Uniform Patrol Division and the Academy. Because new officers and FTOs are assigned to Uniform Patrol, the Uniform Patrol FTO Coordinator is responsible for all daily operations, such as assignments and disciplinary issues. The Academy FTO Coordinator is responsible for all matters related to the training of new police officers.
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