Training and Education
Police officers in the State of California receive some of the most relevant and progressive training in the nation. Trainees must complete 664 hours of basic police training affiliated with local colleges. This six-month long process includes basic police skills training, plus progressive topics like community policing, addressing people with disabilities and cultural differences, crisis intervention, and trauma-informed care. Adult-based learning techniques and reality-based scenarios help trainees understand and demonstrate all these important skills. Academy trainees engage with the community through volunteer work on local community-based projects during the academy. In addition to the six-month police academy, new officers must complete a two-week in-house orientation and an additional four to six-month field training program, where they are paired with an experienced field training officer to learn the difference between the academic training they have received and all the variables of real-life encounters with the community.
Policing is a dangerous job to the officers who serve and protect our public, and often police engage in dangerous action to keep our public safe. All this activity has to potential for damage and harm, and our police officers engage in career-long training to ensure we operate with the best possible practices to provide the most responsive and safest possible service to our public.
All California peace officers are required by law to participate in 12-hours of perishable skills training (driving, firearms, and arrest/control) every 24-months. Officers assigned to specialty or collateral assignments like FTOs, Detectives, Traffic, Special Weapons and Tactics / Tactical Negotiators (SWAT/TNT) or Downtown/Homeless Outreach require even more specialized training and practice. Our police department conducts over 30-hours of department-wide training annually. Classroom, reality-based, and virtual reality training techniques cover these continuous professional training (CPT) requirements and much more.
Bias Awareness Training, Social Justice, and Equity
We pride ourselves in San Mateo for maintaining a diverse and educated workforce who accurately reflect the demographic makeup of our city. In addition, our officers are provided the most advanced, relevant training and are held accountable for their actions. Our officers undergo continual training throughout their career with our city. They have been trained to recognize the differences between racial bias and signs of criminal or suspicious activity. We’ve invested in extensive procedural justice training, crisis intervention techniques, advanced de-escalation communication tactics, implemented the use of body-worn cameras to ensure transparency, and have embraced California’s Act to Save Lives (AB 392).
De-Escalation and Force Options
San Mateo Police supervisors and a team of experts review all uses of force committed by our police officers and identify important examples to discuss and train best practices. Officers participate in live role-play exercises to build skills in verbal de-escalation and varying levels of non-lethal force to accomplish our goals whenever possible. Our officers are ingrained with a respect for the sanctity of life. They attend an intensive 40-hour course on crisis intervention for the mentally ill, and work with our local Homeless Outreach Team, a psychiatric response team, and a field crisis team in partnership with County Health and other resources, to identify and address those in sensitive and at-risk conditions before crisis strikes.