SAN ANTONIO - Bexar County sheriff's deputies and cadets will be required to undergo additional training in 2018.
Sheriff Javier Salazar said the increased training, which went into effect Monday, was something that "absolutely needed to change."
"This is a dramatic increase over the 24-hour in-service training deputies had been receiving for the past several years," a Bexar County Sheriff's Office news release said.
Deputies are now required to complete 40 hours of annual in-service training, up from 24 hours in 2017. For the first time, supervisors will have eight additional annual training hours to complete.
Salazar said the 40-hour training mandate mirrors that of the San Antonio Police Department, where he worked for 20-plus years prior to taking over at BCSO.
"Prior to my taking office, I knew that there was just not enough training going on to keep up again with similar sized agencies," Salazar said Monday morning as he addressed a group of cadets on their first day at the academy.
Class lengths for cadets at the BCSO Training Academy have also increased.
Last year, Salazar increased detention cadet class training from seven weeks to 10 weeks. In 2018, there will be an additional week of training.
Graduating from the detention cadet course leads to an entry-level position at the Bexar County Jail.
Patrol cadets will also undergo an additional week of training, from 16 weeks to 17 weeks, Salazar said.
According to Salazar, state-mandated minimum training for detention cadets is about four weeks, and it is 650 hours for patrol orientation.
Salazar said the investigation into a deputy-involved shooting that claimed the life of a 6-year-old boy in December may provide an opportunity for new lessons to be learned and passed on to deputies.
A stray bullet from a deputy's weapon fatally wounded Kameron Prescott on Dec. 21 at the Pecan Grove Mobile Home Park off FM 78 in Schertz. Four deputies were searching for Amanda Lenee Jones, 33, when the lawmen thought she pulled a weapon on them and opened fire.
Authorities didn't find a gun, but did locate an 8-inch tubular, pipe object underneath a deck where Jones fell after she was shot and killed, Salazar said. Authorities were unaware the boy was in the mobile home that Jones allegedly had broken into.
"As incidents happen in law enforcement, you're missing the boat if you're not learning something from each and every one of those things that you did good, things that you did bad and somehow incorporating that into the training," Salazar said. "So certainly, while we're very new into the investigation in this latest shooting, as things come to light and as we're learning things from them, we'll be incorporating that into our training."
The additional coursework will include mandates from the Texas Commission on Law Enforcement, de-escalation of force, officer resiliency, defensive tactics, leadership, use of force, social media and other topics.
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