History of the Basic Course for Police Officers

The State of New York, by virtue of Chapter 446 of the Laws of 1959, became the first state in the nation to establish basic training for newly appointed police officers. This was accomplished by creating the Municipal Police Training Council (MPTC), as well as promulgating rules and regulations with respect to the content and presentation of required training. Statutorily, the MPTC is obligated to recommend for the Governor's promulgation minimum requirements for conducting the Basic Course for Police Officers. The MPTC was also given responsibility of making recommendations regarding police training schools, instructor qualifications and categories/classification of in-service training.

In 1965, Chapter 326 gave the MPTC the authority to promulgate regulations establishing, height, weight and physical fitness requirements for police officer candidates. These standards, which were amended in 1996 to comply with the Americans With Disabilities Act, are set forth in 9 New York State Official Compilation of Codes, Rules and Regulations (NYCRR) Part 6000.

In 1967, Chapter 671 increased the responsibilities of the MPTC by requiring establishment of a course of training for police officers appointed to supervisory positions.

The Division of Local Police was created in the Office for Local Government by Chapter 168 of the Laws of 1967. The new Division consisted of staff of the Municipal Police Training Council and the Division for Police Administrative Services. The Division was later renamed the Bureau for Municipal Police (BMP), and more recently, the Office of Public Safety (OPS), and was placed within the Division of Criminal Justice Services by virtue of Chapter 399 of the Laws of 1972.

Like its predecessors, OPS today provides assistance to municipal law enforcement agencies. With respect to police training, the statutory design requires the MPTC to be the standard setting and monitoring group, while actual instruction is executed locally. OPS is responsible for the review and approval of basic, supervisory and in-service training curricula and instructors submitted by municipal law enforcement agencies and training academies. This mechanism ensures that the training meets statutory requirements with respect to curriculum content, instructor qualifications/certification and hours.

When mandated effective July 1, 1960, the Basic Course for Police Officers consisted of 80 hours of instruction in specified areas. Increases in the number of hours required were as follows: July 1, 1963 - 120 hours; January 1, 1967 - 240 hours; July 1, 1971 - 285 hours; January 1, 1986 - 400 hours; July 9, 1988 - 440 hours; August 5, 1991 - 445 hours; 1997 - 510 hours; September 27, 2006 - 635 hours; and November 5, 2008 - 639 hours.

According to Section 209-q of the General Municipal Law, all persons seeking permanent appointment as a municipal police officer (including sheriff's deputies) after July 1, 1960 must complete an MPTC approved Basic Course for Police Officers as a condition precedent to such appointment. Basic police training must be completed within one year from the date of original appointment. Currently, regulation stipulates that an MPTC approved Basic Course must consist of at least 639 hours of instruction in specified areas.