Training is a huge thing for me as a police officer. Too many departments lack the funds and the availability of instructors to properly train their officers on up-and-coming tactics and threats to our safety. I always encourage taking any training opportunity, even if it means you may have to use your own time, as long as your department allows. The more well-rounded you can become in your training, the safer you are on the street and the easier you can adapt to a wide variety of situations. In time you will prove to be a valuable asset to your department. You will be heavily relied upon. You can improve your department from the inside by becoming the source of good training. The most important point I want to make is to take training seriously. Sometimes it can be long, boring and seem like menial tasks, but I assure you, the better you become in every area of training, the better officer you will be. That being said, I would like to look into three different aspects of training I have gathered through speaking with different individuals along with spending time in the Army. We must train to fight, train past the fight and train for the fight.
Train to fight
Training to fight, in my eyes, means that we must take training seriously. Orient your mind, the best you can, to put yourself in a real-life scenario that your training is providing. The more serious you can become about training, the better result you will get out of it. If you are able to put yourself into an atmosphere where training is as life-like as possible, you will be more adapted to react appropriately when the situation isn’t training at all. As I said before, training can become long and boring, but we must combat that attitude and become interested in our training. Our training is the only practice we have before things get serious out on the streets.
Training to fight also involves our physical fitness. We must maintain our health. We can be a well-trained officer, tactically sound and proficient, but without the literal body structure to uphold the physically demanding tasks our job requires, our training will not be able to take full effect on our bodies. Create a sound infrastructure to build your training upon. Condition your body towards the purposes of your job. Endurance, muscular and cardiovascular, are essential in this line of work.
Bring both your physical fitness and your technical training together as one and you will be the most effective officer you can be.
Train Past the Fight
Training past the fight is something I obtained from Patrick McNamara, a world-class tactics and physical fitness instructor. Patrick is all about training past the fight. Training past the fight entails that we orient our minds to the fact that, although the first threat may be neutralized (and that may be the only threat that the training provides at the time), there may exist additional threats. If we condition ourselves to only believe one threat exists or that only the multiple threats, known to us at the time, exist and are neutralized, we leave ourselves vulnerable to additional threat. I have always been taught where there is one, there are two, where there are two, there are three. This is, in my opinion, a great way to keep in mind that we must train past the fight. As Patrick McNamara has said in an online interview with me, if the drill calls for 3 shots, have 4. If the drill calls for 6 shots, be prepared to shoot 7. Always be prepared to re-engage. Never leave yourself down in a fight. Constantly, even when the threat is neutralized, maintain the advantage. Always remember your training and continue the fight as if the fight never stops.
When we are training, we are in a controlled environment where time-outs are allowed and after completing multiple iterations of a drill, we will go into the next knowing when to stop. The operational environment in which we work does not provide for a definitive end to a threat. The threat is ongoing. We must fight the urge in training to allow our minds to stop. While the drill may physically require our bodies to stop shooting, searching, or detaining, it does not require that our minds stop negotiating the next potential threat.
Train for the fight
Training for the fight may seem similar to training to fight. However, there are differences. While training to fight more so relies upon our ability to orient our minds in training to link us with a real-life scenario, training for the fight relies upon our ability to train effectively and train for tactics that are relevant to our specific operational area and environment. It is imperative that we train for the most relevant aspect of our daily jobs. Training in woodland search and recovery of a suspect would be ineffective for those serving in a non-wooded, barren community. Training on urban pursuit tactics would bode ineffective for those officers serving in undeveloped, rural counties. While it would be nice to learn multi-jurisdictional tactics, it is simply too difficult, both with time and available funds, to train officers on every single operating environment. Training for the fight is training for what you do, training for what you may be called on to do. There are some training programs that span all law enforcement agencies nationwide, such as firearms training, combat life saving training, narcotics training, etc. Then there are training programs that are specifically tailored to departments operating in certain environments. It is imperative that we can effectively pick and choose the training programs that will directly affect our operations within the communities or capacities we serve.
Training for the fight also means to prepare yourself to the best of your ability to utilize the training you have been given. While a specific course may span 8, 16, 24 or even 60 hours plus, we must take these skills back to our departments and continue to train on them. This is solely the officer’s responsibility. We have been given the training, it is our job to make sure we stay on top of that training.
In conclusion, there are many different schools of thought on training when it concerns law enforcement. Our departments’ biggest issue is funding. Often, the first thing to go, when budget is tight, is training. There is no reason we can’t, as the individual officer, take on the responsibility of training ourselves. Informal training is available, as is online training. Take the opportunities you can to better your own tactics. We owe it to the public, we owe it to our families, we owe it to ourselves.