Before new Oklahoma City police officers hit the streets, they undergo five months of classroom instruction and four months of field training — nearly twice the amount required by law.
The Council on Law Enforcement Education and Training sets Oklahoma's standards for law officers. CLEET requires 576 hours of training for new peace officers during their basic academy.
The Oklahoma City Police Department's academy entails 1,066 hours.
Some areas — like Spanish language training — are absent from the CLEET curriculum. In contrast, Oklahoma City officers are given 70 hours of Spanish.
The firearms and driver training in the Oklahoma City police academy are more than double CLEET's requirements. Oklahoma City cadets complete 132 hours of firearms training and 101 hours of driver training, compared to CLEET's required 65 hours and 45 hours.
Intense and continuing training is not a luxury, but a necessity for a police department the size of Oklahoma City's, Chief Bill Citty said.
“It has to be somewhat reactionary. These tactics have to be ingrained in them so they respond automatically,” he said. “It can be a lifesaving tool for the officers.”
Statistically speaking, more officers are killed in crashes than during shoot-outs, Citty said.
Use of firearms in the line of duty usually occurs within seconds, he said.
“It's just like anything else. Practice makes you better.”
“If you're not keeping up with the new technology and ideas in training, you're falling behind. There's always new and better ways of doing things,” Citty said.
But maneuvering dangerous situations is only part of the officer's job that will be reviewed and criticized.
“We have to make sure our officers are taught constantly what they can do legally when taking someone's freedoms away from them,” he said. “You don't want to step over the line to the point where you violate someone's civil rights, and you have to train to keep up with that.”