Department of Public Safety Standards and Training eliminates backlog

Salem, OR – Today, Governor Tina Kotek and Department of Public Safety Standards and Training (DPSST) Director Phil Castle announced the department eliminated the police training backlog, which reached up to seven months at its peak. This was achieved through increased training capacity, drastically reducing wait times for Basic Police training. This announcement comes less than one year after receiving additional resources from the Legislature, and just seven months after the department launched a pilot program aimed at eliminating the backlog.

All newly hired officers in Oregon must attend the 16-week Basic Police course at the academy in Salem within 90 days of hire. However, a sharp increase in law enforcement turnover in recent years created a training backlog over the last five years. This extended wait compounded hiring issues and hindered the ability of Oregon’s law enforcement agencies to keep their communities safe.

“This is what Oregonians expect from their state: see a problem, find a solution, and solve it,” Governor Kotek said. “Not only are we getting the most for our resources, we are keeping pace with the needs of our workforce and increasing community safety by ensuring timely, high-quality training for law enforcement to serve every part of the state. I am grateful to Director Castle and his staff for their persistence and dedication to serving Oregonians.”

With the support of Governor Kotek and the Legislature, DPSST developed a pilot program to eliminate the backlog by increasing training capacity.  Basic Police courses are normally comprised of 40 students. With additional funding provided by Senate Bill 5533 in 2023, DPSST added three 60-student classes and three additional 40-student classes held in collaboration with Oregon State Police (OSP) to the 2023-25 biennial training schedule.

“We are grateful to Governor Kotek and the Oregon Legislature for their unwavering support of public safety,” Agency Director Castle said. “Their commitment to providing the resources for the pilot expansion has allowed DPSST to expedite training, enhancing the efficiency and effectiveness of law enforcement agencies across the state. We also want to thank OSP for their invaluable partnership and express our appreciation to all our public safety constituents throughout Oregon for their continued dedication and collaboration.”

“The team at DPSST reflects the very best of public service. Putting 60 people through training is a tremendous endeavor and this is proof that DPSST has made a standard we should strive for with public safety training across the state,” Oregon State Representative Paul Evans said. “This is a great example of work that can be done for Oregonians when an agency fully uses the resources we give them.”

The pilot program commenced in November 2023 with the first 60-student class and an OSP partnership class. On May 24, 2024, the final 60-student cohort celebrated its graduation at the academy. A second OSP partnership class will commence this month and the third will be held later this biennium to align with hiring plans and enrollment forecasts.

The result is a meaningful reduction in the wait time for Basic Police training. DPSST is currently enrolling students for classes beginning in July and September, providing law enforcement agencies with options based on their hiring needs and ensuring that new hires can attend the academy within 90 days.

While expanding the number of students in training, DPSST has adhered to its guiding principles of providing high-quality training and ensuring the safety and well-being of students and staff. There have been no anomalous safety incidents during the training expansion, and students are graduating from the program within the normal completion range.

The pilot has resulted in the creation of a dynamic training template that allows DPSST to flex between 40- and 60-student class sizes. The scalable model will enable DPSST to respond more effectively to future hiring surges, meeting the training needs of Oregon’s law enforcement agencies.

“This is a big win for public safety and workforce training in Oregon. It shows that we can tackle tough problems and deliver the results our communities need to see in a timely manner,” Oregon State Senator Janeen Sollman said. “I deeply appreciate the work done by Director Castle and all those at DPSST who led on this pilot project. Oregon is a safer place because of their work.”

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