Vol. 18 No. 5- The Duty To Train Officers Is Unaffected By The Lack Of Reimbursement Sources

March 10, 2003

To: All Police Chiefs and Sheriffs

From: Martin J. Mayer & Dean J. Pucci


Recently our office has been contacted by a large number of clients inquiring as to whether their duty to train peace officers was mitigated by the lack of reimbursement by P.O.S.T or similar agency. The answer to this question is a resounding no. The lack of funding from outside sources does not, in any way, relieve a department of its obligation to train its officers.

The United States Supreme Court has held, “inadequate police training may form the basis for a civil rights claim against the city where the failure to train amounts to deliberate indifference to the rights of persons the police are likely to encounter….The focus must be on the adequacy of a training program in relation to the duties the officers are expected to perform and the identified deficiency, in a city’s training program….(1)

The decision to eliminate training programs or reduce the amount of training, based upon the lack of reimbursement sources, would most likely be viewed, by a court, as deliberate indifference to the rights of others. Take for example, Davis v. Mason County 927 F.2d 1473 (9th Cir. 1991). This case involved a Sheriff and several deputies being found liable for civil rights violations arising out of traffic stops which resulted in arrests, beatings and false charges being filed against the motorists. The inadequacy of the training program, which represented the county’s official policy, constituted a deliberate indifference to the rights of others, as a matter of law. In sum, your duty to provide training for peace officers is not, in any way, mitigated by the lack of funds to reimburse your department for such training.

As always, we urge that you confer with your department’s legal advisor before taking action regarding legal matters. Should you have any questions or wish to discuss this matter in greater detail, please feel free to call Martin Mayer or Dean Pucci at 714-446-1400 or at mjm@jones-mayer.com or djp@jones-mayer.com.

1.City of Canton Ohio v. Harris, 489 U.S. 378 (1989)

[The Law Offices of Jones & Mayer located in Fullerton, California focus its practice on representing the interests of public entities as its City Attorney, in labor negotiations, in defending tort litigation and civil rights litigation. Martin Mayer focuses his practice in the area of representing cities, counties and the State on matters arising out of their respective law enforcement agencies.]


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