The PTO Program had its beginnings in 1999 in a meeting that occurred in San Francisco that included the Chief of the San Francisco Police Department, the Mayor of San Francisco, academics from the American Psychological Association and representatives of the Department of Justice COPS Office. While the meeting topic was on something unrelated, Reno Police Chief Jerry Hoover had a discussion with Dr. Ellen Scrivner, Assistant Director of the COPS Office. This converstation led to Chief Hoover obtaining a $500,000 grant to develop a new field training program. The concern from the COPS Office was that there was only one field training model available (the San Jose Model), which had been developed in the late 1960s.
The development team was established with members of American police as well as academics from the United States and Canada. The original model heavily emphasized the learning concept of problem-based learning. This was the foundation of the PTO Program that the COPS Office initially published.
Later, Chief Hoover and his colleagues at the Reno Police Department took the PTO Program to the nation in the form of training seminars. The feedback from the agencies involved in those training sessions led to a de-emphasis of problem-based learning and a focus on a learning matrix that was necessary to assess the performance of trainees. This modification of the PTO Program is now known as the Reno/COPS Model PTO Program. Variations have been produced for corrections, communications, and fish and game organizations. It has even been adapted for the use by United Nations Police in Sudan and Serbia.
Chief Hoover wrote the PTO Training Manual in 2006, which is still the state of the art document today. It should be pointed out that Chief Hoover, while the senior member of the Kaminsky and Associates training group, also wrote the basic FTO manual that was edited by Glenn Kaminsky and is still the primary document used by thousands of police agencies.
The Reno/COPS Model PTO Program has been adopted by hundreds of police agencies throughout the U.S. The Hoover Group offers training in this program, even to the extent of offering a Train-the-Trainer program that allows agencies to train their own PTOs rather than rely on hiring outside trainers.