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Supplementing in-service training with free resources

Some departments might wish to download videos — where no copyright exists — and then convert them into video DVDs which their officers can use to train the brain

In my current job I deal with approximately 200 police departments throughout the western half of Pennsylvania. The one thing I have heard consistently is that, given the economic climate, departments are having a hard time fulfilling needs for their departments. It appears that when money is tight, things like training or improvements in the department take a backseat to the more pressing everyday needs such as payroll, fleet maintenance, and whatnot. It is with this idea in mind that I thought I’d present one possible solution for training will only set you back the cost of a rack of blank DVDs.

I first found this solution when I was looking for a way to increase my library of police-related materials in case I ever go back to teaching. I’m not going to spend a lot of time on how each piece of software I talk about works. If you take the time to read the booklet that comes with each, you’ll find that in about five minutes you’re creating DVD videos quite easily.

I found that if you have Windows Vista or Windows 7, you should automatically have a DVD maker built into your software package. However, some systems such as Windows 7 Starter don’t have much of anything. No problem. You merely need to download a program called DVD Flick. It is completely free and, once you’ve read the attached manual on how to operate it, videos are a snap to make. I also found that making videos is the least problem of all. The biggest problem is converting any file, such as an .flv file, into the right form of file for a video.

Once again, it turns out that there is a piece of software for that. This program is called Xmedia Recode. This program converts virtually any type of file into .avi files which are what you’ll need to create a video. Not only does it convert anything into .avi files but it also has a pull-down menu bar that lists every form of conversion it can do. Basically, you can convert files to download into a Blackberry or any other form of advanced phone you might have.

Just to test the program, I downloaded a bunch of music videos from YouTube. Then converted them to mp3 files and they went on my IPod perfectly.

A Simple Process
Some departments might wish to download videos — where no copyright exists — and then convert them into video DVDs which their officers can use to train the brain. Basically, all you need is a stack of DVDs and maybe three pieces of free software.

The process goes something like this:

Download whatever files you’d care to make a video of
Convert those files using Xmedia Recode into .avi files
Open DVD Flick and put the converted files onto the program manager.
Set all permissions in the program folder
Click Create a DVD
Walk away, and when you come back you’ll have a DVD.

If you have a DVD maker built into your software it is even easier. Simply convert the files to .avi files. Then put a DVD+R into your CD player. When the menu comes up one of the selections will be to create a DVD using DVD Maker. Click on that and a box appears where you’ll drag the converted files. Set things up and click Burn. Once again you can leave and when you return the DVD is written. The only problem that you might encounter is that you may not have audio written to the file on some computers. To fix this ahead of time, download Windows Media Codec Pack and install it. This codec pack has all the codes needed to convert audio and video onto a DVD and it is free.

So here is one way to beat the money crunch. Download some free software, buy some DVD+R discs, find an officer that enjoys doing this kind of thing, and you can quickly create a video library that can be used for training purposes. Of course, you will have to confer with the PD attorney and/or command staff to determine whether this creates supplemental training resources or meets the requirements for liability protection.

Good luck and stay safe.

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