Continuing education is an important part of a law enforcement officer’s career which keeps them refreshed on their training and on how to deal with the community and all the issues that represents.
Webster Parish Sheriff Gary Sexton, Chief Deputy Bobby Igo Jr. and Maj. Dustin Reynolds spent the first part of the week in Shreveport at the annual Louisiana Sheriff’s Association conference. The sheriffs of all 64 parishes of Louisiana gather once per year, with part of the conference including continuing education.
“We have 12 hours of continuing education on different subjects throughout the year,” he said. “We meet with all the sheriff’s and discuss different issues that are of concern to the law enforcement community, not only in the state of Louisiana, but across the United States.”
He says the credits he earns benefit the community in that they deal with issues that come up in thecommunity and nationwide.
“Two hours of what we got this time were on the pros and cons of the body cameras,” he said. “What we were trying to figure out is which style body camera is the most popular, the best one, the availability of saving the data, (and the) expense to the taxpayers of storing the data.”
Continuing education hours differ in subject matter as well as intensity. Where deputies are required to earn 20 hours of continuing education,
Sexton and his fellow sheriffs are only required to earn the 12. And there’s a reason for that, he said.
A law enforcement officer must go through basic training, be POST certified and maintain 20 hours of continuing education to keep his certification. Subject matter for those hours include a wide variety of topics, including firearm safety and training, investigation techniques, refreshers on civil and criminal law and self-defense among many others.
The 12 hours a sheriff earns in a year are more intensive. A sheriff’s continuing education hours are more community-oriented, like dealing with news media, or getting up to speed on a national issue, like the body cameras aforementioned. Their continuing education also deals with issues that affect the law enforcement community itself, he said.
A deputy’s supplemental pay is based on the number of continuing education hours he gets, but sheriffs don’t get supplemental pay. The sheriffs get raises, based on if the legislature says they can, but it’s dependent upon them getting their 12 hours of continuing education.
“The continuing education is basically that we hold ourselves accountable the same way we hold our deputies accountable,” he said. “We hold our deputies accountable to a certain amount of continuing education hours every year, and we as sheriffs feel like we are no better than they are, so we take a certain number of hours ourselves.”