The Importance of Continuing Education and Self-Learning In Law Enforcement

October 06, 2016

The Importance of Continuing Education and Self-Learning In Law Enforcement

By: Ian D. Scofield

Some of your earliest memories of being a law enforcement officer are the classes that you sit through at the academy or riding with your field training officer. These are the basic learning experiences that you need to start in the world of being an LEO but there is more to it than that.  To truly succeed in any industry, you need to have self-learning and continuing education to truly excel. In law enforcement not just your career relies on it but your life and that of those around you.

In older law enforcement officers there is a mentality that they have been doing the job a certain way for a long time and that they shouldn’t need to change.  This attitude is destructive to careers and even to departments.  Encouraging those you work with to educate themselves creates a safer and more professional environment.

The need for continuing education isn't just for those in the field, it is for those in charge too. Think of it this way: a Captain declines to attend defensive tactics classes or self-learning. When he is thrown into the field for a special assignment, he is left with outdated tactics that he hasn't practiced since he was a patrol officer.  The same thing stands for when this Captain goes to review a report that one of his officers used excessive force. If he hasn't attended training or practiced, he wouldn't know the most recent techniques.

With so much scrutiny on law enforcement officers and agents, the industry needs to step up the continuing education and self-training. Officers need to learn ways to handle situations that leave the department looking like it is in the right after every call.

With all of this focus on continuing education, how do you go about getting it? Most departments will offer continuing education money because they recognize the importance of improving their assets. If yours does, make the most out of it each year by finding the best classes that you can take.  If your department doesn’t have a continuing education budget, then here are some options for you.

Reading Educational Books

There is a myriad of educational books for law enforcement officers. These books span a wide variety of topics and are written by just as many authors.  One of the greatest things about books is that you can find them on sources like Amazon for very affordable prices.  You can also get them in formats like eBooks so you bring them anywhere on a phone, tablet, or kindle.

Reading Professional Blogs

Lots of professionals write blogs on their time in law enforcement and on training topics. These blogs are available for free around the internet.  All you need to do is find one of them.  Our blog is an example of such a blog.


There are plenty of grants that are available from sources around the world for attending training and implementing new technology. Grants take steps in order to get them.  You must first write an application for the grant, and that application must be reviewed by the granting party.  After that, you must follow the instructions from the grant.  Despite grants being time-consuming, they can help you pay for courses that neither your department nor you can afford.

Online Training

Online training is available from a lot of sources. FEMA is one of the most prominent sources.  You probably had to take some FEMA courses in disaster or Emergency Management but they have a large number of courses available.


Continuing education is what will keep you ahead of the game. It will make you more knowledgeable in the field and more indispensable to your department.  Both of these will help your career and your life.  Continuing your education and learning also helps to make you feel better as an officer and person.  You will be more confident in yourself and skills.

 About the author:

Ian graduated Seattle University with a Bachelor's in Criminal Justice with a Specialization in Administration of Justice. He has held positions as an Auxiliary Department of Public Safety Officer, a Security Patrol Supervisor, and as an in-house security officer for a major medical center. Through all of this he has picked up a wealth of experience, training, and education that he is happy to pass on to others. Ian can be reached at


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