Is Law Enforcement the Right Job for You?

There is no doubt in my mind that law enforcement isn’t the job for everyone. Accounting isn’t the job for everyone, the medical field isn’t the job for everyone. Each person, by their individual characteristics and personalities, fits into their very own profession, in their own unique way. However, it is up to you to decide which one of these professions fulfills your passions and desires. We often find ourselves striving for goals or professions that our mothers and fathers have previously, or currently, hold. It is not wrong to be interested or intrigued or driven to these professions and life styles. What we must realize, is that we, as individuals, may very well hold goals and aspirations that go “against the mold”. 

I find myself, sometimes, second guessing and/or re-evaluating my career path, my career choice. This is due to a variety of factors, much of which lies in self-doubt. It is too easy to become our own biggest critic, assuming that non-success is linked to not being “made for the job”. In periods of stagnant professional growth or success, we can find ourselves in a position where we think of what life would be like in another profession. We may even ask ourselves if we like our job anymore or if we could even complete another profession successfully. I can say this for myself, and I am sure it goes for many of you, that I simply could not see myself in another profession. I can not see myself enjoying another profession or completing it with the relative success I have already achieved in my law enforcement career thus far. This is a very scary thought. It is a scary thought because we work, as police officers, in a profession where we are limited, to a certain degree, by departmental budgetary factors, the current political atmosphere and an environment where one step in the wrong direction, one miscalculated judgement call could take our job from us, or force us into a position where redeeming oneself can prove very difficult. These factors often weigh heavy on me, bringing on the stressful thoughts of whether or not I could complete or find another job that would make me as happy as law enforcement does, in the unfortunate event that I find myself on the outside looking in, for any reason whatsoever. 

It is the stress of being without this lifestyle that allows me to go about my work in a professional manner. This is not because I am paranoid of making a wrong move, or being low enough on the seniority list that a layoff could put my career in danger. It is because I consider the profession of law enforcement as a coveted lifestyle, a profession I don’t ever want to be without. It is, perhaps, these stressors that prove to me that this is the profession and the job for me. If you find yourself without these, what I consider to be common thoughts, then perhaps this job is not for you. As officers, we need to be surrounded by a positive, professional and free thinking environment, where encouragement outweighs negativity by a large margin. Negativity leads to complacency and discouragement, which leads to recklessness and a lack of safety. 

I know law enforcement is the profession for me because, despite the fact that I look forward to my 2 days off of work every week, I am always eager and ready to return. The days can be long, sometimes dull, but it is the people who I am surrounded by, who I choose to surround myself by, that make the job what it is. I previously worked for a private sector business, where the days were long, stuffed in a cubicle and surrounded by individuals who seemed to do nothing but complain about the job. I enjoyed the content of that job, however, the individuals I was surrounded by made my work life intolerable. At the same time I knew I wanted to be in law enforcement, surrounded by individuals who were like-minded to myself. After being in this profession for a few years now, it is amazing the different it makes in your life when you are surrounded by people in your profession who share a similar passion of the job. 

I know this is the right job for me because it does not seem to be a job in my mind. I do not pay attention to paychecks, so long as that I can provide for myself and my loved ones. I do not concentrate on the trivial union debates, the raise I may get after this negotiation or the next, or the conditions under which I work. I am provided a safe environment flooded with professional officers. I am provided the necessities (emphasis on necessities) to get my job done. I work under an administration and supervisors that reward and recognize hard work and will discipline those who fail to meet the standard. 

It is up to you to decide whether or not law enforcement is the profession for you. You can choose to concentrate on the negative aspects of the job or your department. You can choose to be disgruntled or have a lack of trust in your administration and supervisors. I urge you, however, to re-orient your mind onto the positive aspects of your job. I guarantee, if you were to write out the pros and the cons of your current position, you would see just how great your job is. If after all of this, you still seem to lack solid purpose in your job, then I will submit to you that maybe, just perhaps, law enforcement isn’t the job for you. 

We owe it to ourselves and we owe it to our co-workers to be the best possible officer we can be, even if that means not being an officer at all. 

Allow Vigilance to be Your Savior

Reflecting on the recent incident in Paris, it reminds me that we must, as police officers, allow vigilance to be our savior. I know I have spoken on situational awareness and not becoming complacent in our job. However, I believe that vigilance goes above and beyond situational awareness and non-complacency. While vigilance encompasses both of these things, it goes above and beyond these two things as well. Remaining vigilant requires that we educate ourselves. We must strategically educate ourselves on topics and tactics that are pointed and directed at our area of operation. The Paris attacks have taught us one thing (among many others). What we have learned at the sad expense of many innocent lives is that individuals, terrorists, extremists, will always find a new way to infiltrate their target. In Paris, we saw a number of extremists, at least one of which, who was able to gain access to the country under the presumption of a refugee. We must learn that extremists and people hell-bent on committing evil acts will stop at nothing to get to their goal. 

It is very hard to stay one step ahead of the opposition. There are so many different factors we must take into account. This is relevant to attacks on nations such as the Paris attack but is also relevant to our everyday operation as police officers. As I have stated in previous articles we must learn from every experience we have with people of criminal nature. If we allow those lessons to build on one another, we will be a more rounded and experienced officer. 

We must always remain vigilant. This is not only a necessity to stay one step ahead of an an offender but it is also necessary for our every day survival. Allowing yourself to be situationally aware at all times, never allowing yourself to become complacent, learning from every experience and going out of your way to educate yourself on current criminal, terrorist or extremist MO’s, will build itself into what I think of as vigilance. 

We all, as officers, have the basics down for vigilance. We know to never put our back to an access point, we know to keep our heads on a swivel, we know to “pie the corner” instead of rushing around it. But, could you in confidence say that you are up to date on how street gangs are concealing their weapons? Could you say that you are up to date on the different lethality factors present during a domestic violence situation? Are you aware of the different ways drug traffickers are using compartments within their vehicles to avoid detection? I am not innocent in this, I can say there is a lot I do not know. In fact, there are many officers out there, that I could confidently say, I don’t touch with a burning flame. However, that does not dissuade me in becoming more vigilant than I already am. There should never be a point in your career where you believe you are as vigilant as you’re “supposed to be”. There is no such thing. There isn’t an appropriate level of vigilance. There is an inappropriate level of vigilance, which often is disguised by recklessness. We see ourselves becoming complacent in the most basic tasks of our jobs, perhaps even cutting corners sometimes because we have “trust” in the individual we are dealing with or the individual doesn’t fit the mold of threatening or violent. This is the number one mistake I believe exists. Maintain the work practice that you treat every person as violent, despite their age, race, gender, or apparent social status. If you retain this method of operation, your safety will, inevitably, be bolstered. We fail ourselves in so many different ways. Do not allow a lack of vigilance be the failure that leads to a tragedy. If you see something out of the ordinary, trust yourself and realize there is a reason YOU, as a POLICE OFFICER, feel that it is out of the ordinary. 

Stay away from assumptions. Assumptions will get us killed. Assumptions will lead to complacency or that false sense of trust in a situation. I will never tell someone to act in an impolite manner towards anyone. While politeness and professionalism in this job is what a lot of us take pride in, you must always have in the back of your head the readiness to arm yourself and take action accordingly. 

Remaining vigilant should be a constant goal for every officer around this country and around this world. We must realize that, to some, we are the enemy, in a big, big way. We can’t control their hate, however we can become more vigilant towards it and control ourselves with our training and readiness in situations where we may meet the fine, thin and delicate line of life or death. 

We Are Who We Are Because of You – A Letter to the Public

I write to you, the public at large, for one reason today. We are who we are, because of you. Yesterday, after a crew got done taking a tree down in my yard, the foreman came up to my door and thanked me for what I do. I was leaving for work and thought I would walk out the door, wave, and be on my way. He took me off guard a bit, and I thanked him back. In retrospect, I do not think I should have been surprised. In fact, I find it more and more frequent that people thank me when I am in uniform. Sometimes, it is a quick and quiet thank you, and other times someone stops me to talk, thanks me for what I am doing, and shakes my hand. What the public needs to realize is the profound effect these small acts have on the morale of our police officers. I was able to leave for work yesterday in an elevated mood, happy that something so simple could make me smile. It is the thanks and the waves, the hand shakes and the conversations, that make us proud of what we do. We owe you a bigger “thank you” than you owe us. It is because of you that we are who we are.

However, there will forever be individuals in the public that look down upon the police and wish harm and ill-will towards us. To those of you who fit into this mold, I submit that it is also because of YOU that we are who we are. It is because of you that we refuse to back down. It is because of you that we will continue our fight even when our brothers fall at your hands. It is because of you I wear my vest. It is because of you that I train to the point that I am confident that the day I may be faced in a battle against you, at any given moment, I will be the one going home. You will be taken away and will answer for your wrong-doings. If I happen to fall, I am confident that my brothers and sisters will continue in their noble fight for justice, because of you. It is because of you that the appreciating, law-abiding, honorable public thanks us, for we keep them safe from people who commit society’s most unthinkable wrongs.

It is because of all of you, that we are who we are; Police officers and willing servants to the public.

Allow Your Downfalls to Build Your Strengths, Not Your Weaknesses

It has been a couple of weeks since I wrote last. The job has become busy, consuming a lot of my mind as of late. Something that has been on my mind for the past couple of weeks is our downfalls. We all have type-A personalities, as police officers, and, therefore, tend to take our downfalls and mistakes more personally than others. We are people used to success. We perform in a highly competitive environment and are destined to have downfalls and disappointments during our careers. Today, I want to focus strictly on our mistakes and imperfections.

We all strive for a career that is full of positives, commendations and successes. It would be foolish not to do so. However, we must realize that, even as police officers, we are human and by nature we are imperfect. We must also realize that our superiors better understand this than us, the typical mid-ranking officer. As a newer officer to this profession, this is something I have struggled with in the past. I do not like “not succeeding”, I do not like making mistakes. I tend to make my own mistakes into bigger issues than they really are. I’ll over-think my decisions and the mistakes I’ve made. They tend to stay with me for days, perhaps even weeks. I believe in our profession; I believe that everyone in law enforcement is professional and mature. It is much easier said than done to pass off our mistakes as just that, mistakes. I find it hard sometimes to believe that the mistakes I have made aren’t being looked at by my superiors under a microscope. What I consciously fail to do is realize that I have done more good than I have bad. This, ultimately, has a greater impact than the mistakes I have made. It is one of those situations where I find trouble in following my own advice. It is too easy for us to be hard on ourselves and supportive to others. No one likes being in a tough spot, professionally. What we need to embrace is that, throughout our careers, we will make mistakes, we all have downfalls. There is not any single one of us that is perfect. There are individuals that will be more successful than us, there are individuals who will have different goals with us, there are individuals we won’t see eye-to-eye with. You and I are the only people in charge of our ultimate success, I have said this before. You and I are the only ones who can control our outlook on our own professional lives. You and I are, ultimately, the only ones who can learn from our own mistakes.

We must learn from our mistakes. Failing to retrieve a solid lesson from a mistake made will only lead to further incidents of the same nature. We must take a step back and learn a concrete lesson from all that we do, good or bad. I am a solid believer that every day is a learning lesson and every day is an opportunity to be better than the day before. It must be a consciously made effort to make today better than yesterday, and make tomorrow better than today. The only way to right a mistake is refusing to allow it to happen again. The only way to improve your professional life is to refuse defeat and carry on tomorrow better than your carried on today. Seek advice from supervisors and senior officers, take responsibility for your actions. If you are wrong, admit you are wrong. Hide the ego, remain humble and center yourself on your goals. Refusing to accept a mistake is refusing to accept the fact that we can all do better. Refusing to accept a mistake is refusing to admit your imperfections. Refusing to accept your mistakes is refusing to be professional and refusing to be successful.

Carry on your future days with your held no other way than up. You will continue to make mistakes, the officer to your left and right will continue to make mistakes. What we learn from them and how we continue on in our careers will be the ultimate redemption to our downfalls.

Why I Wear The Badge

I wish the question, “why do you wear the badge?” was asked of me more, so that, maybe, just maybe, people could understand law enforcement a little better. I understand it is not my responsibility to make everyone appreciate the police, comply with the police, or see eye-to-eye with the police. Not only would this be near impossible to do, it is not part of our job. However, when we are presented with a situation in which we can educate the public on the police, we should take it.

There are many reasons I wear the badge. To some, the badge represents power, authority, the ability to take someone’s freedom. While the badge does represent authority, and gives us the power to take some liberties, when appropriate, there is so much more behind the badge than just these things.

The badge, to me, is more a representation of what we stand for as police officers. The badge is a constant reminder that I belong to a family unlike any family on this earth. The badge represents the fact that I have lived my life, up to this point, with respect of the public and adherence to the laws of our land. The badge also represents that I am not without mistakes and flaws, for it was a long, tough, mistake-laden road to achieve my badge. Just as the metal-cast badge isn’t without imperfections, nor am I. The badge allows me to realize that, just as I have made mistakes in the past, the public makes mistakes too. The badge allows me to realize that there are people who look up to it and some who look down upon it.

We are without names to many, we are strangers to many more. However, the badge allows us to be a beacon of peace, positivity and freedom from wrong-doings. The badge is a symbol of safety, for that is what we are, keepers of safety and keepers of peace. The badge represents strength. Not just physical strength, but moral strength, intestinal fortitude, mental strength, strength that we can deliver to others when they find themselves weak.

The badge is a symbol of determination, long hours, sleepless nights, all so that we may find the end goal: Justice. In this, the badge stands for justice. The badge will lead us forward, never retreating and never backward, towards a threat, towards an end goal, towards peace, justice, integrity of the public and the safety of our streets.

The badge stands for truth, honesty and respect. We ask the public to put their trust in the same.

The badge stands for family, family that cannot be broken, as the badge itself can never be broken, cast of heavy metals and inlaid with gold and silver.

The badge stands for diversity, as no badge is the same. We honor diversity, individuality, and freedom of mind, speech and protest.

The badge stands for you, the public at large. The badge is a literal and figurative shield you can stand behind or be in front of. It is ultimately your choice. To those who stand behind our badge, behind our shield, we will do everything in our power to make sure our shield against evil is effective and will keep you safe. For those of you that choose to stand in front of the shield, we offer you this:

At no point will our shield be broken. At no point will we lay down our shield at your request. At no point will we pull the shield out from in front of the people we protect, only to protect ourselves. You may make us fall, but ultimately, more warriors, with the same strong shields, will take our place, and will continue the fight. Soon enough you will find that your false shield of crime and wrong-doing, is no match for the shield we carry as police officers. You will find yourself in a losing battle against the strongest shields in existence. You will find no supplies to make your shield greater than ours, for our shields have been forged with the blood and sacrifice of true warriors gone before. Our shields, our badges, are forged with fortitude, bravery, integrity, honor, respect and selfless service. Your shield is without these essential materials. You may hunt for them, you may even find some of them, but they will prove to be unreliable, for without all of these things put together as one, your shield is weak, and will not protect you from the shield of justice. You have an opportunity to lay down your shield and fall behind ours, for your road to guaranteed safety and a life of integrity can only be found behind the badge of a police officer.

This, my friends, is why I wear the badge. If for no other reason, it is for you.

Our Final Salute

Two times in the last 24 hours I have had to update our officer down memorial page. If you keep up on law enforcement news nationwide, this shouldn’t come as a surprise to you. One of the most touching things I have seen, was NYPD giving their most recent fallen officer, Randolph Holder, the final salute as his body was escorted to the Harlem Medical Center. There is a lot to be said about this final salute officers were giving to their fallen brother as he passed by them. It is truly unfortunate that we must use the phrase “most recent fallen brother”, as it signifies that he is not the first, and most tragically will not be the last.

The public will see this fallen salute as a gathering of mourners to honor their fallen brother as he physically passes them for, possibly, the last time on this physical earth. While this is definitely a piece of the big picture, it is certainly not the only reason we offer up this symbol of thanks.

To us, as law enforcement officers, this final salute means so much more than an act of mourning and saying “goodbye”.

This final salute is us allowing the body of our fallen brother, along with his spirit, know that we honor him, we thank him and we carry on the torch of justice and peace even though he may be physically leaving this earth. We are saying to the world that this man or woman has not died in vain, but, rather, has died doing what we all love to do, serve the public and defend the defenseless. Our final salute is telling our fallen brother that he is not alone in his journey, that he carries the support and the solitude of all those he has left on earth. The final salute is allowing the family to know that they have a sea, a nation, of men and women in blue supporting them throughout the rest of their lives. The final salute allows all to know that our fallen brother is not, and will never be, forgotten.

Our fallen will enter a special place in heaven, where God’s most blessed children reside. Police officers who have given the ultimate sacrifice will wear the badge and the wings of Heaven’s most coveted warriors. These men and women have stood in the face of evil, of difficulty, have fought in this world’s most righteous battles. They have not failed in what they have done. They have not fallen because of their failures. They have fallen in the process of pursuing a justice many refuse to seek.

The most unique aspect and characteristic of a police officer is that they can be scared, and will be scared, in many of the situations they face, yet they continue on a straight a narrow path despite the dangers that lie in front of them. Many would run, hide, and seek safety for themselves in the same situations; however, an officer, knowing the people he defends, will continue towards the threat, knowing this may be his final opportunity to stand for what is right in this world. No one should ever doubt that an officer has fallen doing what he or she loves. If the love for the public, the outright love for total strangers, wasn’t present in the mind of a police officer, he wouldn’t advance towards a threat, he wouldn’t pursue a dangerous suspect, he wouldn’t place himself in harm’s way, every single hour, of every single day.

The work of a police officer is often dull and repetitive, making traffic stops without incident, responding to alarm drops that are often inadvertent mistakes or a technological malfunction, quelling neighborly disturbances, etc. However, we live and we die by the calls that we go into with our heads held high, knowing that what we are about to do could possibly bring a truly bad person to justice, or help save the lives of the strangers we give our undying love and dedication to. While we do not hope for and seek dangerous situations, we will respond none-the-less. We will respond with an appropriate level of fear that will guide our tactics and keep us safe. The final salute is a promise from all officers to uphold this level of professionalism, this level of bravery, this level of outright heroism.

The final salute is our acknowledgement of the sad fact that you are physically gone, but that you will NEVER be forgotten.

To you, my fallen brothers and sisters, rest easy on the peaceful streets of heaven, as you continue your unwavering and never-ending beat, for you have already served your time in hell.

No One Can Tell You Who You Are or How Successful You Can Be, Besides Yourself

Success can often give the illusion of something that is out of our control in this profession, something that is controlled by everyone but ourselves. I will make the attempt to argue otherwise.

I’ve brought it up in past articles that our advancement and relative success in this profession can often be influenced (not controlled) by outside forces such as departmental availability of funds, room for advancement, department size, etc. I still believe this to be true, as these are things we cannot ultimately control. There are many things in this profession that we cannot control and that falls into the reality of the job and another topic in and of itself. The only thing we have complete control over is ourselves. Our profession and workplace can be inundated with individuals who may be content and stagnant, perhaps even slightly disgruntled (read “very disgruntled”). It is our responsibility to sort the good from the bad and surround ourselves by the people who are going to aid in our own ultimate success.

Success in this profession is relative. It is relative in the sense that what one person considers advancement and success may not be the same for you or me. We all have our own goals and aspirations and we cannot assume that, just because we want to achieve a certain goal, everyone else is striving for that same goal. We are all like-minded individuals in this profession but we all hold on to our own individual characteristics and goals. It’s what makes this profession as unique as it is.

Recent events in my own professional life have brought me to the realization that we are too often willing to believe the negative rumors than the positive facts. Without going into too much detail, I was recently expecting one thing to happen in my own professional advancement, when the opposite seemed to become the immediate reality. I was assured that the original, intended outcome would still be the eventual outcome, but just at a date further along down the road. As an immediate response I became disappointed and slightly demoralized. I think this was a natural and appropriate reaction. I allowed my own negative thoughts to permeate my mind and become a sense of reality. I allowed negativity to manifest into reality. I figured that my original goal would not happen altogether. In seeking input from coworkers and supervisors, I was given a mixed reaction, ranging from “it’s never going to happen” to “it will definitely happen, just give it some time”. I found myself latching onto the individuals who said that “It’s never going to happen”. I was doing this without much conscious thought. I allowed the positive input to flow in one ear and out the other, while the negative input went in one ear and stuck in my thoughts like tough glue.

It wasn’t until yesterday morning that I woke up and asked myself why the negative input would stick with me and the positive input was bouncing off of me like rubber.

The fact of the matter is that the positivity that was given to me was from people who are credible and reliable sources of information. The negative information stemmed from rumors, past disappointment and assumptions that bad situations can only get worse. The responsibility to sort out which I am going to believe lies with no one but myself. I am responsible for my own peace of mind, my own well-being and my own success. Like I said before, negativity will manifest itself into reality. Why can’t positivity manifest itself into reality as well?

It can, and it will.

I believe it to be our human nature to believe the bad over the good. In our profession we see a lot of “bad”, if you will. Yesterday, a coworker asked me how it is, in my writing, that I am so often able to just pass off the disgruntled officers in our profession and focus so much on the good. My answer to him was that I force myself to consider the negativity a non-factor. I am not perfect at this, as I found myself in a situation where all I was believing was the negative. It is a constant battle for me, it is also a constant battle for you. We are battle proven in the field, why can we not be battle proven in our own thoughts and minds?

We have a huge choice to make every single day. We can allow ourselves to be brought down by negative thoughts and rumors or we can allow ourselves to thrive on the successful and positive thoughts of others. Never allow the responsibility of your own success to lie in anyone’s hands but your own. Realize that we work in an extremely competitive and volatile profession, where advancement and success will not always come easy. Many factors come into play in our own personal and professional success, the largest of which is your own effort and mindset towards your end goal. Ultimately your own positive thoughts will manifest their way into reality. Coworkers will rely on you for your positive attitude and it will all continue to build from there. No one, in their right mind, looks down upon a positive person. If you take a step back and look at your workplace, you will realize that the people you consider successful are also positive people who don’t allow themselves to be wrapped up in negative rumors and thoughts.

I challenge you to become the model of positivity in your department. If you allow yourself to be a positive cop, you can only become a successful cop.

We Can Be Our Own Worst Critic

I’ve noticed that when one of my partners is in a tough situation I can give him the most uplifting and positive advice. When I am in a tough spot, that same officer is going to give uplifting and positive advice right back in my direction.

there seems to be a common aspect to this exchange though. We both realize that the other isn’t going to take our advice. We even vocalize it, saying, “I know you’re not going to stop worrying about this, but…”. It’s a fact of life; we can dish it out, but we can’t receive it. I’m not talking about criticism, I’m talking about advice.

As officers, we are our own worst critic. It’s an undeniable truth. We sit here and we will “Monday morning quarterback” ourselves until the day is dark. We are the worst at expressing our feelings, we are the worst at taking advice when we are in a position of self-doubt. I can’t even count, in my very short career, how many times someone has given me advice that has proven to be 100% correct; however, I refuse to believe it as such.  Yet, I can give solid advice to them, without fail. They will inevitably fail to put their trust in my advice, as it, also, proves to be true.

I am not sure what the solution to this problem is. I wish I did, for it would put an end to a lot of inner turmoil. It is possible that the first step to solving this issue is realizing that we are our own worst critic.

If we realize this and allow it to enter our conscious thought, we may begin a path to combat the refusal to follow the advice of the people with whom we work so close. In the end, who knows a cop better than a cop himself?

Letting Negativity Manifest Into Reality

Once again, I find myself in a situation where I must follow my own advice, but struggle with actually committing to it.

Today, I struggle, as an officer, with allowing my own negativity to manifest into reality. This is something I think a lot of people struggle with but fail to actually realize, especially in our profession. It is possible to allow your own negative thoughts, negative emotions and general negativity to manifest its way into a reality of sorts. 

Some people may say that allowing yourself to always be positive will only lead to disappointment. I can see how this may be true, to an extent. Generally, a positive person is going to be a happy and successful person. Yes, disappointment will happen, it’s a reality of life. We must make a conscious effort to make sure disappointment does not lead to general negativity. This is definitely something that is hard to put into words. I am going to make my best effort to explain. 

A positive person will experience disappointment. A negative person will breed disappointment. If you force yourself to remain positive, disappointment will easily be overcome. If you allow yourself to remain negative, disappointment will only seem common-place and you will expect it. This being said, everything relatively disappointing, that happens in your life, will only feed into your negativity. This will become a cycle that is hard to stop. Disappointment will only go to certify your negativity and negativity will cause for more disappointment. A negative officer is an ineffective officer. An ineffective officer is a dangerous officer. A dangerous officer is destined for failure. 

A generally positive officer will be more adept to curb disappointment and learn from it. Disappointment is, after all, relative. What may be a large disappointment to one person may not be as big of a deal to another. Allowing negativity to permeate your thoughts will only allow it to manifest itself into a reality. 

We all struggle with our daily obstacles. It is hard to explain to one person what another is feeling. What you experience stress over may be a common experience to another. What we all must realize, is that remaining positive, even when it seems hard, is essential to success. Nothing in life is going to flow smoothly; we must take our experiences and use them to our advantage. Learn from these experiences every single day. We, as officers, are creatures of success. Do not allow negativity to manifest itself into your reality. 

 

Train to Fight, Train Past the Fight, Train for the Fight (Video)

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.