Wisconsin Department of Justice

Consistent Training Standards Met in Law Enforcement

A Wisconsin curriculum alignment initiative ensures law enforcement officers statewide consistently meet basic law enforcement training requirements set by the Wisconsin Department of Justice’s (DOJ) Law Enforcement Standards Board. Now, the aligned core of training courses share the same competencies and standards no matter where they are delivered in Wisconsin.


The core group of aligned courses, called "Advanced Standing" is an embedded element of police science associate degree programs offered in 14 Wisconsin’s technical colleges. It is the result of a collaborative effort by those colleges, the Worldwide Instructional Design System (WIDS) and the DOJ’s Training Standards Bureau.

Before this re-design, courses and standards varied from college to college, making it more difficult for students to transfer and for employers to know how future law enforcement officers had been trained. Now all law enforcement officers receive the same training to meet the same standards, according to Dennis Hanson, Director of the Training and Standards Bureau.

"Using WIDS to develop the aligned curriculum ensures the core courses of Advanced Standing have the same standards as those taught at any certified training academy," says Hanson.

In order to qualify for certification as a law enforcement officer in Wisconsin, the Standards Board requires completion of 60 college credit hours and 400-520 hours of basic officer training. Students can qualify for certification one of three ways: by mandatorily attending training after employment; by completing 60 college credits and then attending a 13-week training academy as a civilian student; or by completing an associate degree in criminal justice with an embedded Advanced Standing core.

The associate-degree option allows students to kill two birds with one stone, saving them time and making them marketable for law enforcement positions sooner, according to Hanson. "Many employers give priority to students who’ve gone through Advanced Standing," says Hanson, "because those students don’t have to take the 13-week training academy after they are hired."

Administrators and instructors from each of Wisconsin’s technical colleges worked with the Training and Standards Bureau and WIDS to pull the new core curriculum together. In the fall of 2003, the new Advanced Standing core became part of every criminal justice associate-degree program offered in Wisconsin. The result is a curriculum that better facilitates transfers between schools; meets rigorous Law Enforcement Standards Board basic training requirements; better prepares officers for law enforcement work; and simplifies time spent on curriculum at individual colleges.

Both instructors and deans saw the need for a re-defined curriculum. They were motivated to share resources, wanted a seamless integration between campuses, and were sensitive to students crossing district boundaries.

The old Advanced Standing core, developed in 1990, lacked modern performance assessments in which students were asked to demonstrate skills and knowledge, according to Hanson. The new core, developed using WIDS software, includes highly organized content and quality performance assessments, including simulations, evidence collection, role-play and more, he says.