Police Training Officer (PTO)
The Menasha Police Department completely overhauled it's training program in regards to new patrol officers. All officers hired by the Department, regardless of past experience, must complete a training period and an 18 month probationary period. During this time they are regularly reviewed on the progress learning the job.
Old Training Program
In the old training system, trainers were called Field Training Officers (FTO) and a lot of the learning took place in a discuss, watch, perform three step process for types of calls. The training period was 11 weeks long consisting of three phases; Step 1 (3 weeks), Step 2 (3 weeks), Step 3 (3 weeks) and Shadow Phase (2 weeks). Each step would have a different FTO with the Shadow Phase having the Step 1 FTO to evaluate the trainee's progress.
New Training Program
The new program of training involves trainers being called Police Training Officers (PTO) and involves new officers handling more of the work at the beginning. The new officer evaluates themselves along with the PTO evaluation. The new program consists of 15 weeks and four phases (A, B, C, and D) with a midterm in between Phase B and Phase C. There is an integration week in week 1, midterm in week 8, and the final in week 15. Each phase is 3 weeks long.
The midterm is a period where the new hire is evaluated while handling situations completely on their own. It is a good measuring stick for the new hire to know where they stand in the learning process. The final determines if the new hire is released from training.
Along with learning the ins and outs of the job, this training program requires the new hire to engage the community by addressing a "problem" of their choice in each phase for a total of 4 small problems. There is also a Probationary Problem in which the new hire address a larger "problem" in which the new hire will attempt to address an issue of their choice. To be cleared from probation, the employee will present the problem and their resolution to that problem to the PTO team. This helps instill the idea of community policing into the new hire from the start.
Currently the PTO program has 4 trainers and a Lieutenant in charge of the program:
Lieutenant Matt Lenss
Officer John Abrahamson
Officer Shelby Birkholz
Officer Dan Hoernke
Officer Joel Nelson
Award pin given to officers who are PTO's