The year is 2015 and the 21st century law enforcement model is fluid and dynamic. What you learned or how you trained 15, 10 or even 5 years ago may not be enough to fulfill your duties today. How can you be sure that you are on point with your training and tactics?
This problem is not new to law enforcement, however the plausible deniability of “maintaining a minimum standard” may be starting to lose ground in the courts and with the public. At times we are our own worst enemy.
Like it or not, our actions are scrutinized far more than any other profession in public service. There are some things we can do to prepare for a media or public frenzy that loves to come raining down on us with an arm chair -quarterback review of our split second decisions.
- Firearms If you do not have that weapon out at least 5 to 6 times a year, spending time shooting, cleaning, reloading it, malfunction and clearing it, you don’t have enough time on it. Pulling it out on your anniversary and putting 50 rounds in a static draw and fire paper target qualification is not firearms training.
Find someone to do it with you. All some people in your department do is think about guns. Get with them, and shoot 100 rounds. Shoot from a seated position, from the prone position, across a patrol car, at night with strobes on, whatever.
The only thing it can do is make you better; it might even save your life. Carry a second firearm. A long gun is preferred, but whatever the department will allow. Two is one and one is none.
- Defensive Tactics Know some techniques. You don’t have to memorize and perfect the PPCT manual, but you should have 4 or 5 good solid techniques that you can use in an instant. Arm bars, pressure points, knife hand strikes, whatever works for you. Practice them. A lot. Again, the 16 hour DT course you take every 4 years teaches you nothing, it is a CYA for the department. That way, when you go off script they can say “we didn’t train that”, and leave you holding the bag.
- Legal updates These change every year or two depending on your state. Know the law, know the statues, and know the criminal codes. The last thing you want is to be on the stand or on video with a dumb look on your face saying “I didn’t know that”. Trust me, it’s embarrassing and you get to visit with division captains and administration personnel. Know what the law is, what you can and can’t do and when you can do it.
- Patrol Tactics Yes, these evolve as well, no matter what you say. All of the tactics that I was taught in the late 90’s are simply not applicable today. Many of them are, many are not. I was certified on a PR-24 baton in the academy. Trust me; you will not see a PR-24 in my shop.
Make sure you are current on things like SFST. If you carry an intermediate like a Taser or OC spray, make sure your certification is current. I see mag pouches that carry 3 magazines; this is a positive step forward.
Know camera operation and camera awareness. This is an absolute must. You either have been the victim of your doing or you know someone who was. Cameras are everywhere, including in your shop and now even on your person. Do not forget that.
This is not exhaustive nor is it applicable to every situation. The point is making sure that that you are taking the necessary steps to protect yourself and your family. We see over and over how even if you are 100% legal and authorized, the slander, loss of work, and stress of the entire situation can have devastating effects on not only your career, but your personal life.
Josh Crosby has served in law enforcement 15 years as a patrol officer, narcotics investigator, and criminal detective as well as a defensive tactics instructor, in criminal interdiction and personal protection detail. Josh has trained police officers in four countries and maintains that well-trained officers are safe officers