We have high expectations of our officers and provide more training than is required by California's Commission on Peace Officer Standards and Training (P.O.S.T). We pride ourselves on continually learning and improving upon our skills to provide the highest of quality of service to our Ventura. Learn all about our training and employee wellness.
The California Commission on Peace Officer Standards and Training (POST) requires 664 hours of training in the police academy. Our police academy, the Ventura County Criminal Justice Training Center, exceeds that by adding 273 additional instructional hours, totaling 937 hours, or about 40% more training than required. In the academy, recruits receive:
- 24 hours of Cultural Diversity & Discrimination (This includes implicit bias and racial profiling). POST requires 16 hours.
- 25 hours of Use of Force training. POST requires 16 hours.
- 60 hours of Arrest/Control training
- 40 hours of Vehicle Operations training
- 4 hours of De-escalation training
- 15 hours of Persons with Disabilities training
- 10 hours of Handling disputes and Crowd Control training
Upon completion of the Police Academy, all of our officers are required to complete the Field Training Program. During Field Training, new officers are partnered with a Field Training Officer (FTO) who ensures that the new officer is proficient in all necessary areas. The program is 6 months long, and has 4 phases, each of which is about 6 weeks in length. Each day, trainees are rated on 32 different categories, including: officer safety, interviewing skills, knowledge of penal code, and community relationship-building skills, etc. The overarching goal of the Field Training Program is to further develop well-rounded officers that represent our department and our community well.
Our officers receive a minimum of 52 hours of additional training each year. Some hours are mandated to be spent on certain topics. Below is a list of our mandatory training:
- Legal Update - 2 hours annually
- Arrest & Control Techniques - 4 hours biannually, we require 8 hours annually
- Emergency Vehicle Operations, Force Options, Impact Weapons, and Taser Update - 4 hours each, biannually
- Domestic Violence Update and Tactical Communication & De-escalation - 2 hours each, biannually
- Anti Bias-Based Policing - 2 hours every 5 years
In addition to the mandatory training listed above, we choose to provide the following training for our officers:
- Firearms Qualifications - 12 hours annually
- Scenario Based Training - 8 hours annually
- Our Scenario-Based Training is unique in that it is psychologically based and intended to train officers to make sound tactical decisions while under stressed conditions.
Use of Force Policy:
Operations: VPD Operational Overview 2020
Public Complaints: 2020 Public Complaint Report
Police Officer Standards and Training (POST) Courses: search by Course Name, Presenter Name, Course Number, or Presenter Number
Scenario Based Training: Scenario Based Training Outline
Legal Update: 2021 Legal & Legislative Update
Domestic Violence: Domestic Violence Protocol
Active Shooter Training: Active Shooter Training Plan
Naloxone, CPR, Firearms: 2021 Training
Arrest & Control Techniques:
Evidence shows the individual actions of police officers have the greatest impact on a community's perception of police legitimacy. When officers are equipped to deal with adverse reactions to stress, they are better prepared to handle situations fairly, calmly, respectfully, and empathetically. By creating a culture of mental, physical, and spiritual wellbeing and by investing in our officers, we can improve trust. In turn, this leads to more positive contacts, fewer negative interactions, and less stress, ultimately resulting in increased job satisfaction, a higher quality work environment, and better service to our community.
- Physical Fitness
- Peer Support
- Critical Incident Stress Management Debriefings
- Mental Health Check-ins
- Asher - Comfort Therapy Dog
Encouraging officers to stay physically active benefits everyone- employees are rewarded for healthy behaviors and healthier employees tend to have fewer injuries and lower workers compensation claims. We require every patrol officer to dedicate 30 minutes of on-duty time to physical fitness.
The mental health and wellness of officers, investigators, and dispatchers is a priority for the Ventura Police Department. Our Peer Support Program provides staff an opportunity to share their experiences with others while providing an outlet to manage stress in a healthy manner.
Our peer-supporters are selected for their empathy, openness, and understanding that mental health is part of overall wellness. After selection, they attend training that focuses on mental health awareness, critical incident debriefs, and stressors encountered by first responders.
Critical incident stress management debriefings are hosted when an incident occurs that has a high likelihood of creating long-term emotional and psychological stress. These debriefings are typically coordinated by our Peer Support Team within 24-72 hours of the incident, and are sometimes overseen by a licensed clinician. This gives our involved employees an opportunity to unpack feelings and stressors related to the incident with the goal of preventing long term stress or PTSD.
Each critical incident stress management debriefing consists of a few phases:
- Fact phase: Facilitators elicit information from participants about the facts of the incident. What they heard, saw, smelled, and did at the scene.
- Thought phase: Facilitators encourage the sharing of what participants were thinking as the incident unfolded.
- Symptoms phase: The group focuses on psychological and physical after effects.
- Teaching phase: Facilitators reiterate that symptoms they're experiencing are normal responses to extraordinary circumstances and the rationale for their stress response is explained.
In 2021, our Wellness Program expanded even further; and in addition to the on-duty exercise program and our strong peer support and critical incident debriefings, we now have a mental health and wellness component requiring all officers, dispatchers, and crime scene investigators to complete an annual check-in with a mental health clinician.
With the extreme emotional and physical demands of the law enforcement profession, irregular shift work, and regular exposure to trauma, officers' relationships with their friends, families, agencies, and residents can be adversely affected. First responders are 5x more likely to experience anxiety, depression, and PTSD than the general public, and more reluctant to seek help. Changing the culture is vital - 7 in 10 first responders say they’d be more likely to seek professional counseling if a leader in their organization spoke openly and encouraged it.
We have contracted with The Counseling Team International, who's mission is to provide exceptional counseling, training, critical incident intervention, and support to emergency service personnel and their families.
The program is also available to non-mandated employees upon request.
Asher, a Cavalier King Charles Spaniel and Poodle mix, or Cavadoodle, was donated to the department by VIP Dog Teams, a local non-profit dedicated to improving people’s health through promoting the human-animal bond that leads to healing.
“When first responders are equipped to deal with adverse reactions to stress, they are better prepared to handle situations fairly, calmly, respectfully, and empathetically,” said Police Chief Darin Schindler. “I am excited to add Asher to our dedicated team of public servants to help enhance the health and wellness of our employees and residents.”
As a therapy comfort dog, Asher’s functions include easing tension and lowering post incident stress and anxiety levels for employees, soothing victims and witnesses of crimes, providing support to those impacted by traumatic events, and visiting other City departments and various community events for educational purposes.
After an internal interview and selection process, Business Services Officer, Roger Wang, was selected to serve in a collateral assignment as Asher’s handler. Asher has completed American Kennel Club Canine Good Citizen certification. Prior to being ready for service, Asher and his handler will complete Canine Good Citizen Testing and a Public Access Test.
“Asher has a calm temperament, is hypoallergenic, and does not shed, making him the perfect pup to assist anyone,” said Roger Wang, Asher’s handler. “I am grateful to be part of a program meant to bring comfort and relief to so many in need.”
When Asher is not on the job, he will be on-call 24/7, but will go home with his handler and serve as a family dog.
Continued veterinary expenses, food, and grooming for Asher will be covered by the Ventura Police Community Foundation, a local non-profit dedicated to strengthening public safety and enhancing the quality of life in the community by providing support our agency. Learn more about the Ventura Police Community Foundation at www.VenturaPoliceFoundation.org.