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Law Enforcement Training Advisory Commission
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What is a MTU?

Some of you may wonder what exactly the MTU does for its member departments and/or the law enforcement community as a whole.  Here is an overview of the purpose, benefit, and structure of an MTU:

What is a Mobile Team In-Service Training Unit?

By statute, a Mobile Team In-Service Training Unit is, "an organization formed by a combination of units of local government... to deliver in-service training to local and state law enforcement officers..." Through a consolidation of the training function, local police agencies may qualify for state funding and may jointly administer a regionalized training endeavor. The Mobile Team Unit is formed through an intergovernmental agreement and typically includes the joint participation of from two, to as many as a hundred, units of local government. It is a not-for-profit governmental entity which is directed and administered by an advisory board composed of local elected officials, local criminal justice administrators and the Director of the Illinois Law Enforcement Training and Standards Board.

What is the Purpose of Mobile Team In-Service Law Enforcement Training?

The concept of Mobile Team In-Service Law Enforcement Training is rather simple. The objectives of Mobile Team In-Service Training are as follows: to encourage local and state law enforcement officers to upgrade their knowledge and skills in techniques pertinent to the law enforcement profession; to provide law enforcement officers with training opportunities within their own locality, and on flexible schedules; and, to provide quality training on topics of instruction centered on specific local needs. On a wider scale, and with the formation of several Mobile Team Units throughout the state, the emergence of a coordinated system for training delivery has been established. What has emerged is a sophisticated statewide network for delivering criminal justice and law enforcement training.

What are the Benefits of Mobile Team In-Service Training?

Mobile Team In-Service Training provides many benefits to participating units of government, to their law enforcement agencies, and to their individual officers. Several such benefits are briefly outlined below.

Professional Development - First and foremost, all benefit as the officer becomes better trained to perform his/her assigned job duties. An officer who is well trained and professional in his/her approach to the job will be a definite asset to the department, as well as to the community. Human development and the continued upgrading of job skill and knowledge is a necessary requisite for achieving and maintaining professionalism in law enforcement. The establishment of a Mobile Team In-Service Training Unit provides the structure by which permanent law enforcement officers are able to receive "continued training" throughout their careers.

Affordability - Affordability is a second benefit of mobile team in-service training. Illinois, as well as other states, is comprised of a multiplicity of local law enforcement agencies, many being quite small. The Illinois Police Census indicates that there are one thousand two hundred and seventy-seven police departments in Illinois with at least one full-time sworn officer. Two hundred and seventy-six municipalities have only one officer, and an additional four hundred and seventeen have two to ten officers on the force. This means that fifty-four percent of the municipalities of the state are policed by ten officers or less. These smaller agencies often lack sufficient budget allocations to allow non-basic in-service training expenditures for their officers.

Training is expensive. First, it involves tuition and travel costs for the officer. Second, the manpower loss to the department while the officer is attending training considerable. Either the department has to hire a person to replace the officer in his/her absence, which is financially burdening, or the department simply does not replace the officer and the loss is not financial, but is realized in reduced services to the community.

Mobile Team In-Service Training is structured so that undue strain is not placed upon department budgets. Monies are allocated in such a fashion so that cost does not become a prohibitive factor acting to preclude agency participation. Also, since training courses are delivered on a local basis, as opposed to a centralized state academy, the officers do not have to leave the community, or even the department, in order to attend in-service training courses. Time and money losses due to travel are eliminated or reduced, and this reduction ultimately results in budgetary savings to the department. The training cost savings feature of the mobile team structure makes it very attractive to local governmental officials to law enforcement administrators.

Availability - Availability is a third major benefit accrued as a result of instituting mobile team in-service training. As stated previously, the Board funds 16 Mobile Team Units, which collectively have the capability to serve every Illinois jurisdiction. In reviewing the MTU Map, you will find a directory of the 16 Mobile Team Units. This established training network is capable of delivering programs to every permanent law enforcement officer in Illinois. Training and learning opportunities are made available to law enforcement agencies, and law enforcement officers may take full advantage of them. This wide-range training availability is a unique advantage of Mobile Team Unit participation.

Accessibility - A fourth benefit is related to the availability of training which is the accessibility of training. Mobile Team Units provide training that is easily obtainable. Mobile team training is provided to local law enforcement agencies in their back yards, so to speak, and is flexible as to its training delivery design. One of the goals of mobile team training is to conduct courses within short travel distances of the participating department. Courses may be scheduled any time of the day, and often during the evening and/or midnight shift. Courses may be scheduled in time blocks from one hour to a full-day session, from several days to two or three weeks. Courses are arranged to accommodate the specific needs and schedules of the departments and their personnel. The emphasis on accessibility allows law enforcement to make maximum use of manpower resources, while allowing for training to occur concurrently.

Local Control - A fifth benefit of mobile team training is that it is structured to allow for local governmental control. Although the Board is responsible for the administration of the Act, the board has opted to minimize its level of control over the individual Mobile Team Units. The State Board has assumed a position of non-interference with regard to the day-to-day operations of the Mobile Team Units. The Board focuses its efforts in the areas of: reviewing and approving annual mobile team unit applications for funding; coordinating the overall actions of the Mobile Team Units; providing a means for the annual conduct of a statewide training needs analysis study; and evaluating the overall effectiveness of Mobile Team Unit operations. It is the philosophy of the State Board that individual Mobile Team Units must set their own goals and objectives, within the scope of the Act, and then implement the administrative and operational structures necessary to achieve those goals and objectives.

Each mobile team is controlled by an advisory board composed of a representative number of county board chairmen, mayors, chiefs of police and sheriffs of participating units of local government. The composition and number of each advisory board is determined by the participants. The following broad powers are given to the local advisory board, under Public Act 82-674:

Local control allows for the development and administration of training programs that are designed to meet the unique and special needs of law enforcement in a given geographical area. This asset of local control contributes to the overall quality of the training program. The Mobile Team Unit truly belongs to the participating departments and units of local government.

Quality Instruction - Finally, a sixth benefit of Mobile Team Unit training is that it provides a structure for the delivery of "quality" instruction. Topics of instruction and course curricula are limited only by the imagination and by dictated need. Each Mobile Team Unit is provided with funding for the continued development and refinement of training programs and courses. In addition, a substantial sum of monies is provided for "instructional contract services."

The Mobile Team Units have the freedom and autonomy to contract with individuals as well as public and private law enforcement academies and training enterprises for the delivery of specific training courses. Consequently, the finest instructors from throughout the state and from throughout the country can be hired to conduct courses within the service region. For example, John Jay College of Criminal Justice, Northwestern University Traffic Institute, Southern Police Training Institute, the University of Illinois Police Training Institute, the Institute of Police Technology and Management, and others, regularly provide instruction and programs of training through the Mobile Team Unit structure. In addition, selected courses from the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Drug Enforcement Administration, the Illinois Department of State Police and other federal and state agencies are scheduled and conducted on a regular basis. This flexibility in hiring and in scheduling allows each Mobile Team Unit to hire the best and enhance overall quality of training.

What about Funding? How do Mobile Teams Qualify to Receive Financial Assistance from the State?

The Illinois Law Enforcement Training and Standards Board monitors the operation of all Mobile Team Units to determine their continuing eligibility to receive State funds under the Act. The amount of state funds that a mobile team may receive shall equal up to fifty percent of the total approved budget of that mobile team. From monies appropriated annually by the General Assembly for the administration of this Act, the State Board, and the Executive Director of the State Board, determine the amount of funds to be disbursed to each Mobile Team Unit.

Under the structure of the Act, participating units of local government are responsible for financing fifty percent of the total approved mobile team budget, and the state is responsible for providing funds of up to fifty percent of the total approved budget. The Board has determined that, at a minimum, ten percent of the total approved budget of the mobile team must be financed "in cash" by the participating units of local government. In addition, a maximum of forty percent of the total approved budget may be claimed by local units of government, for the actual cost accrued in "officer salaries: while they are attending courses offered by the mobile team. The state’s share of funding - of up to fifty percent of the total approved budget - is cash, and is paid by voucher on a quarterly basis.

Each unit of local government is assessed a membership fee by the Mobile Team Unit on an annual basis. This fee qualifies the department and officers for unlimited participation in the scheduled training courses. The fee is established at a fair and equitable level to encourage maximum participation. For example, several Mobile Team Units charge participating agencies based upon an annual per officer fee. As such, at a cost of fifty dollars per officer, assessed for a department of fifty officers, an annual fee of twenty-five hundred dollars would be assessed. Various formulas are established by each of the Mobile Team Units and may differ from the example provided above.

In order for a Mobile Team Unit to become eligible to receive state funding to help defray costs of operation, certain minimum criteria must be met. The Mobile Team Unit must:

An important component of Mobile Team Unit training is that the costs are shared on an equal basis between local units of government and the State of Illinois. This participatory arrangement in funding allows for the development of state and local "partnership" that is most conducive to the achievement of effective program implementation.

Training: Quantity, Quality and Value

On an annual basis the 16 established Mobile Team Units deliver in excess of thirty-six thousand hours of in-service training to over fifty-two thousand officers. In assessing the total volume of training delivered by the Mobile Team Units from 1992-1997, we find that nearly 169,000 hours of instruction have been delivered to 245,381 participating law enforcement officers.

In any given year, over thirty thousand hours of instruction, addressing hundreds of topics, are scheduled and delivered throughout the state. If the total hours of instruction provided by the Mobile Team Units were scheduled to run concurrently twenty-four hours a day throughout the year, there would be four hours of instruction provided for every hour of every day of the year. This hypothetical example illustrates the tremendous volume of training that is collectively delivered by the Mobile Team Units.

In addition to training volume, another important consideration is cost-effectiveness. Mobile Team Units are able to operate at levels that are considered quite reasonable when compared to the potential cost of funding alternative training systems. On an annual basis the Board computes calculations of cost-effectiveness for the Mobile Team Units, based upon their total operational expenditures and their total training accomplishments, In past years, Mobile Team Unit cost-effectiveness data has proven their operations to be financially efficient.

Although the "quantity" or "volume" of training delivered is important, the maintenance of training program "quality" is of paramount importance. The individual Mobile Team Units and the Board formally evaluate all courses delivered to ensure that high standards of instruction are established and maintained. Continued efforts aimed at course development and instructor enhancement also help to maintain quality instruction.

Often times the benefits of training are difficult to assess and to document. We know that training opportunities help individual officers maintain and develop their job skills; we know that training is useful in improving individual and organizational morale, in instilling pride, in promoting professionalism, and in increasing overall productivity; we know that cases of criminal and civil liability filed against governmental units, supervisors and officers can be reduced if officers are properly trained to perform their assigned job duties; and, most importantly, we know that training saves lives. Officers who are well trained to follow safe and proper police procedures will reduce their risks and increase their safety on the job. Considered in this light, program cost, as previously discussed, becomes an almost irrelevant concern. If only one life is saved, then the program seems well worth the cost.