Field Training: Setting Recruits Up for Success

As field training officers, our most crucial responsibility is training the next generation of police and law enforcement professionals.

Field Training: Setting Recruits Up for Success

I recently read Jocko Willink’s Extreme Ownership and was inspired by the powerful principles discussed in the book. In this post, I want to explore how the concept of Extreme Ownership can be integrated into police field training, helping us create a culture of accountability, effectiveness, and success among our recruits.

As field training officers, our most crucial responsibility is training the next generation of police and law enforcement professionals. But it’s not just about teaching them the necessary skills; when we provide a comprehensive and rigorous field training program, we ensure that our recruits are well-prepared to handle the complexities and challenges they will face during their career. In this blog post, we’ll explore the concept of taking ownership of the training we provide and how it can make a significant difference in the development of recruits.

Success Begins with a Shift in Mindset

When it comes to training recruits, it’s essential to adopt a mindset shift. Instead of placing blame on the recruits for their failures, take a step back and ask yourself, “Did I do everything I could to set them up for success?” Here are some practical strategies to set your recruits up for success:

  1. Establish Clear Goals and Expectations: Ensure your recruits know what is expected from day one. Communicate clearly and concisely, outlining the skills they need to acquire, the standards they must meet, and the behaviors they should exhibit.
  2. Create a Structured Training Plan: Develop a comprehensive training plan that covers all the essential areas recruits need to master. Break it down into manageable segments and provide them with the necessary resources and materials to succeed.
  3. Hands-On Training: Incorporate hands-on training exercises whenever possible, especially early on. Whether setting up mock traffic stops where they can work at a slower pace and in a controlled environment or running them through use-of-force scenarios on a virtual system or with role-players, learning by doing allows recruits to apply theoretical knowledge to practical situations, enhancing their understanding and skill development.
  4. Regular Feedback and Assessment: Continuously monitor the progress of your recruits and provide timely feedback. We should be going over the DOR on the same day. While this is only sometimes practical, promptly addressing issues can imprint the takeaways of the training much more effectively. Constructive criticism and positive reinforcement can motivate them to improve and build confidence in their abilities.
  5. Mentorship and Support: Be more than just a trainer; be a mentor. Offer your recruits guidance, support, and advice throughout their training journey. Encourage them to ask questions, seek clarification, and address any concerns they may have.

Remember, the goal is to train recruits and inspire them to become exceptional public safety professionals.\

Ownership Means No Bad Recruits, Only Bad Trainers

According to Jocko Willink, there are no bad teams, only bad leaders. This principle holds in the realm of police and law enforcement training as well. If a recruit fails to meet expectations or struggles to grasp essential concepts, reflecting on your role as their field training officer is crucial. Did you effectively communicate the information? Were you clear in your expectations? Did you provide the necessary guidance and support? Taking ownership means recognizing that if a recruit fails, it may be due to shortcomings in your training methods.

Recruit Success and The Impact of Belief

To instill belief in your recruits, you must first wholeheartedly believe in the mission of your agency yourself. Take the time to understand your organization’s goals, values, and purpose. Why does it exist? What impact does it strive to make in the community? By immersing yourself in the agency’s greater cause, you can authentically convey the importance of the mission to your recruits. Belief in the mission is not an individual pursuit—it’s a collective effort. Encourage teamwork, collaboration, and camaraderie among your recruits. Help them understand that their contributions, no matter how small, are essential to the team’s success. Foster an environment where everyone feels valued and connected to the mission. When recruits see the collective dedication of their peers, it reinforces their belief in the agency’s mission. The impact can be tremendous when everyone in your agency is all in on the mission and understands its importance.

The Affect of Ego and Importance of Humility

Ego, a sense of self-importance and pride, can be both a powerful motivator and a significant hindrance. While it’s natural to have an ego, especially in high-pressure professions like law enforcement, it’s crucial to understand its potential consequences. An unchecked ego can close our eyes to valuable advice and constructive criticism, preventing us from learning and improving.

Humility, on the other hand, allows us to acknowledge our mistakes, accept feedback, and overcome personal challenges. It is not about diminishing our worth or skills but recognizing that there is always room for growth. As a field training officer, embodying humility sets an example for your recruits and fosters an environment where learning and development thrive.

Taking ownership of our mistakes is a vital aspect of humility. When we acknowledge and take responsibility for our errors, we demonstrate integrity and a commitment to personal growth. By doing so, we create an environment where recruits feel comfortable admitting and learning from their mistakes.


Integrating the principles of Extreme Ownership into police field training can have a transformative impact on the development and success of recruits. By adopting a mindset of accountability, reflecting on your role as a training officer, and continuously improving your methods to better support and guide your recruits, you create a sense of purpose and camaraderie that drives everyone toward success.

By combining Extreme Ownership, belief in the mission, and humility, field training officers can cultivate a culture of accountability, effectiveness, and success within their agencies. Remember the power you hold in shaping the next generation of public safety professionals. Embrace Extreme Ownership, lead with belief, and check your ego to create a lasting positive impact.

Recent Posts

About Tracwire

Tracwire is a modern, instinctive platform built for public safety agencies. Using a cloud-native architecture, we developed our intuitive software to let you focus on what matters most, training recruits. Tracwire gives agencies the technology foundation they need to train recruits consistently and accurately. Founded by Police Officers, Field Training Officers, and a forward-thinking modern development team Tracwire is proven, tested, and supported in public safety agencies of all sizes.

Have a question? Contact us for media or other inquiries:

Follow Tracwire

Elevate Your Field Training Program
to Another Level!

Get better insight. Develop well-rounded recruits. Increase field training productivity. Request your demo today.

Thank You

Someone from our team will contact you shortly to schedule the demo. Please check your spam folder if you haven’t heard from us within 24 hours.

We look forward to talking with you!

Your Demo Request Has
Been Received!

Thank you for requesting a demo. We’ll be reaching out to you soon. Please check your spam folder if you are still waiting to hear from us within 24 hours.

We look forward to talking with you!