Police officers train from the time they are hired. It starts when they enter the academy, continues throughout their career and doesn’t end until the day they retire.

Training is an essential part of our job.

We must keep up with the evolution of the crimes and as well as changes from the criminals. The bad guys evolve to perpetrate crimes in new and different methods and manners. The only way to accomplish our mission is to train and prepare for constant change.

When we talk training, what do we mean?

In its simplest form, it’s continuing education. For example, the subject could be firearms or drug recognition and interdiction. Up-to-date training allows us to stay current with the techniques being employed by the bad guys, over time.

Training occurs in different ways.  The venue, the style and the methods change based upon the subject matter at hand. Imagine the setting required for these four topics:

  • Defensive tactics
  • Interpersonal communication
  • Situational awareness
  • In-car computer systems

These are just a few of the hundreds of possible topics where maintaining proficiency is vital.

 

DO I HAVE TO GO?

Some officers eat up every hour of training they can get.  Others would prefer to never have to sit through another Power-Point presentation or class as long as they live.

What’s the point of the incessant training?  It’s to prepare street cops for the ‘what ifs’ and when those ‘what ifs’ come to our door. That’s why we train! We must stay prepared in order to survive.

Checkout this example that saved a child’s life:

In October, 2019, a police officer in Kissimmee, Florida saved a 1 yr. old infant who was choking on a cracker.  The officer didn’t hesitate.  He knew exactly what to do because that was how he was trained. It has been called instinct.  The situation presented itself and the officer responded intuitively.



 

GAINING KNOWLEDGE AND WISDOM

I firmly believe in continued education and training.  Any officer who thinks they know it all and believes they don’t need to train probably has the most to learn.

The accumulated knowledge we gain over our careers (often termed ‘crystalized intelligence’) allows us to react and respond appropriately to the chaos we often face, unexpectedly.  This knowledge provides us the tools to make sure we ensure the best outcome of a scenario.

The training classes we attend must be quantifiable and qualified which means they must be relevant subjects and taught by certified instructors.  A cop can only be sent to report-writing classes so many times.

Training must also be transferable, like communication skills or problem-solving.  What we learn in class we must be able to take and apply in our everyday duties. Frequently, an officer returns to his own department and teaches his fellow cops what he learned.

 

THIS IS REAL-LIFE STUFF

As a recovery diver for my department I have been involved in several recoveries of drowning victims. I have recovered vehicles and even an airplane that crashed in one of our lakes.  In each instance, it was my training that I relied on.

It was the hours and hours spent in the water practicing for those scenarios which made me successful when the ‘real thing’ happened.


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As member of our Special Response Team (SRT) I’m tasked with the responsibility of being our Hostage-Crisis negotiator.  On several occasions, I have successfully talked armed, barricaded and suicidal individuals into surrendering themselves to us.

My training through the FBI negotiator schools prepared me for those critical calls.  Like anyone in those situations, I didn’t ‘wing it.’ I did what I was trained to do: get a peaceful resolution through dialogue.

 

ALL TRAINING IS NOT GOOD

As an example, there are far too many instructor videos of ‘qualified’ individuals demonstrating firearms.  Some involve the instructors shooting themselves during the classroom demonstration. Others show the instructor running back and forth in front of a live-fire shooting line to show muzzle and trigger control.

That is not how you make an officer a better shooter.

That’s not how you make an officer a more proficient shooter.

That’s how you make angels!

 

CLOSING THOUGHTS

The training must be realistic.  Run pragmatic training scenarios.  It isn’t that we won’t see the most off-the-wall things on duty, but consider probability vs. possibility.

For example: Don’t prepare for an alien invasion from outer space when you can be practicing dynamic door entries and room clearing.

A quote attributed to a Navy SEAL says. “When the shit hits the fan, we don’t rise to the level of our expectations. We fall to the level of our training!”

 

“Above all, it’s about going home at the end of the shift … “

We couldn’t agree more.

 


 

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