The year is 1903 in a small Kentucky town about 10:43 in the morning. The small town bank has been open for business since 8:00 AM and a steady flow of customers has been in and out of the bank. As a woman stands in line waiting to speak to the teller she hears behind her the front doors of the bank burst open with two masked gun wielding men rushing in. One man loudly orders all the bank personnel to lay down on the floor as he rushes behind the teller counter. The other armed robber stands guard at the doors to insure that anyone coming in the bank stays in the bank and is not a threat. Once the money has been gathered together the two armed robbers leave out the doors that they entered the bank through and make off with a large amount of money.
Now let’s move forward a hundred years. The year now is 2003 in a dusty apartment in California. A small frame young man sits in a chair in front of a computer screen typing at a high rate of speed and accuracy. Suddenly he stands up and screams out loudly while raising his hands upward, “yes I did it!” He just scammed almost $200,000 from different personal bank accounts from online access to the World Wide Web.
These two crimes are years and locations apart, but they have one thing in common. They are the exact same crime just the methods of the two crimes are different. If the crime is the same, but the method of which it is conducted has changed shouldn’t the training of the officers responsible to catch the criminals change and be Realistic, Relevant, and Repeated? The criminals are constantly training and planning and we should be doing the same thing.
Far too often agencies go throughout each year on a set budget that is usually based on the needs, wants, and funds given to the agency projected from what was accomplished the prior year. Many times due to the lack of appropriate funds the agency will slash funding for in house training as it is usually called. This in my professional opinion should be the very last thing cut from the agency’s budget or need list. Think about it for a moment, without well trained officers, you have no crime fighting capabilities. What you do have is an agency structure, communication equipment (with no trained personnel), fleet of vehicles (without experienced trained officers to operate them), and any other facilities and operations (that needs trained officers to operate them). Let alone people filling uniforms that are not well trained and able to respond in a professional and confident manner to different incidents.
At times agencies will go so far as to substitute Qualification for Training only to pass the set minimum standards of the state which is usually required by most state POST. This substitution is nothing less than a set up for failure on the part of the trainer, training, individual officer, agency administrators, and agency as a whole. Substitute training is just as bad if not worse than no training due to the fact that the agency sees the need to train its personnel, but chooses to ignore the dyer need to meet the minimum standard of continues training.
The lack of consistent training is usually apparent after something negative has occurred within the agency. This is typically brought to light only when public scrutiny, defense lawyers, and negligence have become apparent. Once it has made it to this point the damage is done and no level of damage control can change the end result which is usually negative.
I’ve had the distinct pleasure in teaching and training Law Enforcement, Military, and Security Personnel over the years in many different topics of discussion.
Each time the words “Training”, “Department Training”, “In House Training” are mentioned this is the usual answer I get from students.
“What training?” “Our department does not see the importance or need to train.” “My agency cannot afford further training.” Have you ever heard these statements, or have you yourself ever said them?
You might be saying okay yeah I’ve heard those statements, or I have even said it before: “so how can I make a change that will better my agency as well as me.”
Well, I’ve decided to break this problem down and approach it from multiple angles and from three different positions. Please keep in mind these are only recommendations and this is not meant to point a negative finger at anyone who might be in one of these positions. Let’s start at the top, shall we?
Chief/Sheriff: As the top administrator of your agency you are responsible for many different things to keep the agency running at operational capacity. This includes keeping the personnel that you lead on the fore front of training. That can sometimes become very hard if the budget is not there when the need for current and constant training is. There are things that can be done to assist you in making good training decisions for your personnel and agency.
- Try to locate other agencies that would like to have multi agency training.
- Try to invest in having certain personnel become in-house instructors.
- Try to compensate personnel with comp time if over time is not available.
Training Officer: As the agency training officer you are responsible for conducting in-house training for the agency personnel and out source training by sending agency personnel to train outside the confines of the agency. Your budget restricts what training you are able to provide, as well as what resources you are able to deliver. Here are some suggestions:
- Try to choose the most important training topics needed by the agency personnel and capitalize on them as best as possible, until funding increases.
- Look for alternative training methods that either produces the same or better end result of training.
- Doesn’t matter if you have funding available, or you’re waiting for the budget to come in; keep the three R’s in mind when concerning any type of training.
Realistic: How realistic, or stressful, is the training being conducted?
Relevant: How relevant is the training concerning the officer’s environment?
Repeated: How many times will the agency be able to repeat any needed training?
Officer/Deputy: As the first responder, you will usually be the first on any scene. You are responsible for having all the answers to any problem that arises. The amount of responsibility on your shoulders is in the fore front since you have hands on all situations that arise out there. You’ll need to be well trained and keep your skills honed to peak level. If you think that the agency will keep you on the fore front of training, you might find yourself standing in the back of the line, so to speak.
There are ways that you can improve past and current training by finding the time to practice techniques and skills solo or with another officer/deputy. For example, if you have a slow day when nothing is occurring and you have no task this would be a good time to train. Try to think outside the box by determining what you can train on in a methodical method out of sight of the public. Here are a couple of ideas for you to kick around and think about.
Traffic Stops: Find you a location such as a parking lot that does not have any vehicular or pedestrian traffic. If you are able to find such a location with no prying eyes attempt to find an unoccupied vehicle and practice your traffic stop approaches. Try to have another officer/deputy if possible to not only critique your approaches but maybe you can also practice a two officer approach or any variations your agency uses.
Structure / Room Clearing: Find a structure that is abandoned or not occupied that will be out of the sight of the public. This can be anything from a vacant house, to a rundown abandoned business that usually has been a place of interest for your local trouble makers in the past. If it’s a structure that is a safe secured structure that has been locked by the owner, and you have permission by the owner to use it as needed your golden. If it’s a rundown structure that you have knowledge that your local trouble makers use from time to time “Officer Safety” should be at the top. You will definitely want a second officer/deputy to assist you then due to the fact that there are possibly unknowns within the structure. Consider this a “real life clearing” and treat it as such. Never go into a structure alone if at all possible try to have another officer/deputy with you for officer safety reasons.
Defensive Tactics: This to can be done with the assistance of another officer/deputy. This can only help you hone your Approach, Positioning, Direction, Articulation, Response, Action versus Reaction, and use of any and all tools weapons. If you have a secured location that you can practice out of sight from prying eyes then you have little to worry about. If you do not have a secured location then you are somewhat limited as to what you are able to do but you can still address the need itself.
In closing this is an issue that has faced law enforcement and agencies alike for a long time and it will not go away. Therefore I’d like to challenge you if possible from an Administrative Position, Training Officer Position, or Line Officer/Deputy Position to constantly think outside the box. Think long and hard how you can face and overcome the training curve and lack of funds needed to conduct training for yourself or your agency as a whole. What cost more in the end, finding practical cost efficient means to conduct repeated training? Or paying out sums of money to cover lawyer’s fees, court cost, law suits, and even worse payment to surviving family members of fallen law enforcement officers?
I am not claiming to have all the answers to this problem facing us, but I am giving some different directions that I have used in the past as well as the present to further my individual training as well as others. I still use much of this thought process in training Law Enforcement, Military, and Security personnel when it comes to the business.
In reference to the business we strive to give the best up to date training and certification possible at the lowest cost to the individual or agency. We are constantly striving to reach out to agencies and travel to them if possible to give them the training and certification they need. We also encourage the agency to send their personnel to our training facility and give the exact level of proficient training and knowledge.
I still remember what it was like to be that individual officer trying to stay above the water line and support a family. The need and desire was always there to further my training and knowledge base, but the funds were not always there. Because I still remember what that was like I try to continually keep the cost of a top notch education for line officers down to the minimum as long as the bills are paid. If you are interested in furthering you Law Enforcement Training feel free to check us out at www.advancedpolicetrianing.com.
We hope to hear from you soon. Be safe out there and God Bless you and your family.