Field Sobriety Training To Resume at Police Academy

DPD Twittter

UPDATE: April 21, 2014 @ 19:30

In response to concerns of disparate treatment in the application of the Dallas Police Academy Standardized Field Sobriety Testing (SFST) Curriculum, a review of the process was conducted.  This review led to questions about the sequence of the proficiency and written exam resulting in the Basic Academy being directed to suspend SFST classes in order to ensure compliance with state and national requirements.

The Department consulted with Mr. David McGarah, the state administrator for the DWI Detection and Standardized Field Sobriety Testing program. This program was developed by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). The Department has determined that its curriculum, including the written and proficiency tests, meets established standards.

Satisfied that the curriculum meets the state and national standards and that steps have been taken for consistent application, Chief Brown has ordered that SFST training resume at the Basic Academy.  The Department is committed to providing its recruits and veteran officers with training that is fair and unbiased; yet, uncompromising in its dedication to meet or exceed state and national standards.

UPDATE: April 17, 2014 @ 16:15

Today Chief Brown received questions from officers and others regarding concerns about the Department’s standardized field sobriety testing (SFST) training standards.  The Department had previously conducted a review for the reasons outlined below.

In February, concerns were expressed by officers that only African American recruits were failing the police vehicle operation course (PVOC) and the standardized field sobriety testing (SFST) portions of the police academy. At the direction of Chief Brown, the Personnel and Development Division reviewed the last 5 years’ records and found that only minority recruits (African American and Hispanic) had failed the PVOC course (5 recruits in 5 years) and a higher percentage of minority recruits had failed SFST courses than white recruits (1 W/M to 8 minority recruits in 5 years).  As this review of recruits’ performance was in progress, the recruit who was addressed in the letter sent by the Dallas Police Association and who is African American, was progressing through PVOC training.

When questions were later raised by the Dallas Police Association regarding this recruit failing PVOC and an alleged reduction in training standards, the Department found:

  • The recruit in question passed the written exam for PVOC
  • Police academy testing policy establishes that a recruit has two opportunities to take the cumulative PVOC skills test before remedial training is to be given
  • Following remedial training on deficiencies, by policy a recruit has two additional opportunities to pass the cumulative skills test before being recommended for termination.
  • The recruit in question received no remedial training and was scheduled for the retest 5 weeks later, which he failed.
  • His chain of command discussed a recommendation for termination.
  • Upon hearing that the recruit had not received remedial training as called for by policy, Assistant Chief Patricia Paulhill directed that the recruit be given the remedial training and tested. 
  • The recruit received remedial training and passed the subsequent cumulative skills test with a 95%

An email was distributed from academy staff on Tuesday, April 15, 2014, stating that recruits were not to be failed on the practical application portion of the SFST test.  Chief Brown has directed that the academy staff temporarily suspend the SFST training class and conduct a review of the testing process to ensure that our process is consistent with National Highway Traffic Safety Administration guidelines.

In a statement, Chief Brown said, “We will continue to review all of our training to ensure our high standards are not compromised in any way and that we make necessary adjustments to continually improve.”

squad 7In response to the letter sent by the Dallas Police Association to the city manager regarding police vehicle operations training standards, Chief Brown directed that the Department undertake a review of the Police Vehicle Operations Course instruction and testing of the recruit named in the letter.  The review involved speaking with involved employees at the police academy and the firearms training center.  This review has revealed no facts to support the allegation that anyone directed that the recruit be remediated until he passed the PVOC course.  To the contrary, the review revealed that command staff directed that subordinates follow established procedures, which have been in place since 2012 for remediation and testing of the recruit. There have been no such recent changes lowering the standards for PVOC. Command staff did not change training standards for this recruit.  Assistant Chief Paulhill directed that current policies were to be followed and provided the recruit with the opportunity called for by policy. Furthermore, a review of firearms training policies was conducted in response to the allegation that “the Department has significantly reduced the standards of their firearms training to allow an officer, who is a marginal shooter, to be remediated until they qualify.”  This review found no facts to support this allegation.  These firearms training policies have been in effect since at least 2009. Therefore, Chief Brown has directed that an administrative inquiry investigation be conducted by the Internal Affairs Division to ascertain the source of these allegations. In a statement Chief Brown said, “We take these allegations very seriously and will not tolerate the lowering or downgrading of our training standards.” April 14, 2014 @ 16:48