Even as in-person training starts to resume, troopers, law enforcement still doing ‘virtual’

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LEXINGTON, Ky. (WTVQ) – Elementary and high school students have made the transition, so have college students and most companies and employers.

Now law enforcement is doing it more, too, and it may become part of a wave of the future.

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Kentucky’s Traffic Safety Resource Prosecutors are pivoting with the times to offer virtual training for law enforcement and prosecutors.

Due to COVID-19, the TSRPs transitioned to a virtual format where TSRP Tip of the Day videos are released weekly. KSP troopers and officers can now view the training videos from their laptop, electronic device or phone.

The TSRP program is a National Highway Traffic Safety Association (NHTSA) grant funded program administered through the Kentucky Office of Highway Safety in the Transportation Cabinet and focuses on traffic safety issues. Before COVID, TSRP’s Aaron Ann Cole, based at the Kentucky State Police, and Tom Lockridge, based at the Unified Prosecutorial System, taught prosecutors and law enforcement at in-person training’s throughout Kentucky.

But when COVID came, they knew they had to completely change the way they got their message out. So the TSRP Tips program was born.

Cole and Lockridge both wanted to make the TSRP Tips accommodating and easy to watch. Cole says with more officers and prosecutors working remotely, lengthy webinars weren’t the solution.

“We needed something they could watch in their patrol cars, on their phones, and that’s when the tips were born,” said Cole.

TSRP Tip of the Day videos are short, one- to five-minute tips released once a week for law enforcement and prosecutors to watch at their convenience. The video topics include canines at traffic stops, case law regarding pursuits and when you can seize electronic devices during a traffic stop.

“It’s been overwhelmingly positive and it helps everybody communicate, it helps everybody learn,” said Cole. “It’s amazing to hear back from officers where it helps them in a very practical way.The videos are distributed to law enforcement agencies and prosecutors statewide.”

Many of the videos are generating questions and suggestions from law enforcement in the field. Cole says they’ve taken several of the suggestions and created an episode based on the specific topic.

In addition to featuring the TSRPs, the tip videos have featured the DRE program coordinators and troopers. Cole says they are planning to continue creating the videos once the pandemic is over.

The TSRP Tip of the Day program was recently featured in the Between the Lines newsletter released monthly by the National Traffic Law Center.

Now that COVID restrictions are easing, Lockridge and Cole are relaunching the Cops in Court training in addition to the TSRP Tips.

Cops in Court is an eight-hour, KLEC-certified course focused on increasing the ability of law enforcement officers to communicate effectively and confidently in the courtroom by understanding the importance of courtroom testimony, report writing, preparation, direct examination and cross-examination.

Cole and Lockridge filmed four DUI scenarios, featuring KSP Trooper Robert Purdy.

Participants watch one of the four videos and write reports based on the scenario they’ve watched and then take part in a mock DUI trial, usig the report that they drafted. Participants are given an opportunity to see firsthand how they react to a courtroom setting.

Feedback and comments on their testimony skills, with suggestions on how to more accurately present the testimony, are offered by the faculty as a learning tool for the whole class.

The DUI video scenarios used in the course are now being utilized by TSRPs in other states as they revise their Cops in Court courses, creating a platform to highlight KSP and its expertise across the country.