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FMCSR Week 4: Training

Prior to the economic downturn this nation has faced the last five years, police department training budgets were large.  Many police agencies have had to slash training costs and reduce training time in order to meet minimum staffing requirements.   Police work is relatively the same wherever you go, but localized training occurs to meet the needs of each community or agency.  The Illinois State Police (ISP) has unique responsibilities they must train for as do local police departments.  The FMCSR is no different.  This article will address the difference in available training between the two groups in Illinois.

All troopers hired by the ISP who successfully graduate from the basic academy will have received training on commercial motor vehicle (CMV) enforcement.  The training they receive is uniform and applicable no matter what district they are assigned upon graduation.  The CMV training is administered by other seasoned and experienced troopers.  When a trooper graduates from the academy, he will have received 40-hour training is size and weight enforcement, very similar to what local police officers receive in the ITEA basic truck enforcement class.  Size and weight is enforceable under the Illinois Vehicle Code, and ITEA has worked closely with ISP to provide training that is uniform with theirs.

The two groups diverge when it comes to certification from the Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance (CVSA).  The CVSA is a not-for-profit agency that sets uniform standards called the North American Standard Out-of-Service Criteria.  All CVSA certified enforcement officers nationwide (and Canada) have authority to do motor carrier inspections and enforce the FMCSR.  Some states, like Michigan and Pennsylvania, have programs for local officers to become CVSA certified…Illinois does not.  The CVSA has six levels of inspections, and all ISP troopers graduating from the academy are certified in the most basic Level III.   Each trooper must perform a minimum thirty-two inspections each year in order to retain his CVSA certification.

Like in most careers, employees have opportunities to specialize in a certain area of interest.  Troopers who wish to specialize in truck enforcement can become Commercial Vehicle Enforcement Officers (CVEOs).  CVEOs receive highly specialized training provided by the CVSA that goes beyond the basic Level III inspection.  Uniform inspection methodology and violation reporting is included as well.  Detection of violations is only one piece of the puzzle…how CVEOs find the violations and record/cite violations is critical as well.

When an ISP trooper is accepted into the CVEO program, he will receive the following training:

  1. 40-hour FMCSA side “A”

  2. 40-hour FMCSA side “B”

  3. 40-hour Basic Hazardous Materials

  4. 40-hour Bulk Hazardous Materials

  5. 40-hour Cargo Tanks

  6. 32-hour Level VI Radioactive Inspections

  7. Additional elective training is available for Vehicle and Cargo Inspection System (VACIS), Preventative Radioactive Nuclear Detection (PRND), and 40-hour motor coach inspections.

The level of training available to ISP CVEOs is extensive and comprehensive for a reason…it is their authority to enforce these rules and regulations.  The only truck enforcement training available for local truck officers in which they have statutory authority to enforcement is basic size & weight.  The ITEA and another training unit in Illinois offers this class.  There is training available for local truck officers who want to learn about nomenclature and the operating systems of commercial vehicles, but the class is without the same authority as the ISP classes.  The CVSA standards are covered, but the officers do not become certified CVSA enforcement officers.  There is not a single State certified instructor teaching truck enforcement at the local police level who has been trained or certified by the CVSA themselves.

So here is the issue:  Local police officers attend a class where non-CVSA certified instructors rightfully teach the officers they cannot enforce/cite the FMCSR directly or place a vehicle out-of-service (ISP only)…but then the same instructors “teach” the class how to do an “inspection” anyways!  So what does the local police officer do when he successfully completes this training?  He goes out and performs an inspection without proper training or authority!  There will be an article in two weeks regarding the faulty methodology local police officers are taught to unlawfully make an end run around their lack of authority.

The ITEA believes every local truck officer should have a working knowledge of the FMCSR and the ability to recognize serious safety violations…it could save a life.  The real problem begins when cursory knowledge evolves into erroneous enforcement activity.

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