Good Cop, Better Cop: Evaluation of a Geriatrics Training Program for Police

J Am Geriatr Soc. 2017 Aug;65(8):1842-1847. doi: 10.1111/jgs.14899. Epub 2017 Apr 24.


Objectives: To develop, implement, and evaluate a training program in aging-related health for police officers.

Design: Cross-sectional.

Setting: Crisis intervention training program for police officers in San Francisco.

Participants: Police officers attending one of five 2-hour trainings (N = 143).

Intervention: A lecture on aging-related health conditions pertinent to police work followed by three experiential trainings on how it feels to be "old."

Measurements: Participants evaluated the quality of the training and the likelihood that they would apply new knowledge to their work and rated their knowledge using a retrospective pre-post evaluation. In open-ended responses, participants reported work-related changes they anticipated making in response to the training.

Results: All 143 participants completed the evaluation. Eighty-four percent reported interacting with older adults at least monthly; 45% reported daily interactions. Participants rated the training quality at 4.6/5 and the likelihood they would apply new knowledge to their work at 4.4/5. Retrospective pre-post knowledge scores increased for all domains, including how to identify aging-related health conditions that can affect safety during police interactions (2.9/5 to 4.2/5; P < .001). In open-ended responses, participants anticipated having more empathy for and awareness of aging-related conditions and greater ability to provide older adults with appropriate community referrals.

Conclusion: A brief training in aging-related health significantly increased police officers' self-reported knowledge and skills. Clinicians have an important opportunity to help enhance safe and effective community policing for older adults.

Keywords: aged; evaluation; police; training.

Publication types

  • Evaluation Study

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Crisis Intervention / education
  • Crisis Intervention / methods*
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Empathy
  • Female
  • Geriatrics / education*
  • Health Knowledge, Attitudes, Practice
  • Humans
  • Inservice Training / methods*
  • Male
  • Police / education*
  • Program Evaluation
  • Safety