Frazier appoints overseer for training of recruits

March 08, 1994|By Michael James | Michael James,Sun Staff Writer

Saying that he wants to improve the way Baltimore police train recruits, Police Commissioner Thomas C. Frazier assigned a veteran officer yesterday to oversee the department's training programs.

One change that has already been decided on is that new officers will be required to undergo 10 weeks of on-the-street training during their 26-week Police Academy course. The department currently requires four weeks of on-the-street training.

"Field training is going to be quite a bit more extensive than it has been in the past," said Lt. Col. Joseph R. Bolesta, named yesterday as the police force's coordinator of human resources, a job created by the commissioner.

In his new job, Colonel Bolesta will oversee the personnel and training divisions and report to Deputy Commissioner Michael Zotos.

"We want field training to be a bigger part of the overall picture. We'll be cutting back on classroom time," said Colonel Bolesta, a 27-year veteran. "The hope is that this will give the public a better product. The classroom is good, but we don't know if an officer can really cut it until we see them in the field."

Recruits in the Police Academy will do their 16 weeks of classroom training first and then move on to the 10-week field training. During field training, they are assigned to ride with officers who show them the daily grind of police work.

Colonel Bolesta said the increase in field training will create a need for more mentor officers to guide the trainees. Some perquisites -- possibly extra pay or better shifts -- will be offered to those who take on mentor duties, he said.

The 10-week requirement will be implemented soon, but no date has been set, Colonel Bolesta said.

City police recruitment and hiring methods came under scrutiny throughout the 1980s by some who said that declining standards and less-than-competitive starting pay combined to undercut the quality of trainees entering the academy.

Mr. Frazier said he thinks recruitment and training have been well managed in recent years but that he still wants to make changes to tailor the department's training program to better suit community policing.

"We need a field training model that puts less emphasis on a classroom mode. We need to pay attention to training as it relates to community-oriented policing," Mr. Frazier said.

Mr. Frazier said Colonel Bolesta "has been sent [to training and personnel] to bring additional administrative focus to the process. It's a place where we always need a little horsepower. It's clear to me that we have to pay particular attention to recruiting and hiring."

Colonel Bolesta was most recently assigned as the executive officer in the department's patrol bureau. Before that, he was head of the city's Violent Crimes Task Force.

Baltimore Sun Articles
Please note the green-lined linked article text has been applied commercially without any involvement from our newsroom editors, reporters or any other editorial staff.