…saying that cops should receive MORE combative firearms and defensive tactics training under increasing stress and with decision making included.
The reality of modern police training is that the most concentrated technical skills training officers receive is in the academy. This training does tend to be weighted toward the skills of shooting (because we have a culture where most people that become officers were not raised around guns and are not proficient with them coming in to the profession; and since qualifying with the firearm is a requirement of the job, academies must spend an appreciable amount of time – inordinate in individual cases – training people to be functional enough to simply qualify with their firearms in the first place.)
Next is defensive tactics. Most officers do NOT practice a martial discipline. Let alone a martial discipline in which countervailing physical effort is present. Wrestlers, judoka, jiujitsuka, boxers, etc.are relatively rare in the ranks of police officers.
However, physical control skills are a much more routine requirement of the job, and so academies must train officers to have some functional level of skill here as well. Unfortunately, there is a strong tendency toward martial arts and skills practiced entirely cooperatively, due to the wide disparity in physical health, agility, strength, and the like found in police recruits in the main.
So, while training is heavily weighted in these two areas, it is geared toward the lowest common denominator merely passing the academy, not excelling at skills critically important at the most crucial times in a law enforcement officer’s career.
What level of confidence, do we think, does this state of training provide officers having to use these skills? What level of competence?
Post academy, officers receive far less concentrated training in the same firearms and defensive tactics skills, and much less often. Some not at all.
That’s right,not at all…other than a single yearly qualification with their service pistol.
What will that do to that already low level of competence and confidence?
Then we take already low levels of competence and confidence and add a focus on survival mindset – that is, recognizing threats to officer’s lives that are very real from a small percentage of suspects who will either try to hurt the officer, will not care if the officer get’s hurt when they are trying to escape, or if the officer is hurt when the subject is trying to suicide…
A renewed emphasis on de-escalation for varied reasons, some very sound, and some based in political correctness and in a lack of commitment to train officers in crucial areas: because of cost and the amount of time it takes to properly train them in an ongoing, career long program.
How capable are officers going to be at effective de-escalation if they lack basic confidence in their ability to defend themselves, or to control a subject appropriately if the person attacks or fights back? Instead they will often act pre-emptively to prevent a potentially violent, or potentially murderous, situation from becoming so. And this is entirely appropriate given the level of skill that most officers are trained to; they simply cannot afford to be behind the curve in an engagement.
The chickens are coming home to roost. This trend will – should – represent a sea change in our society’s approach to law enforcement that has yet to be realized, I think, by some of the people spearheading the charge.
I had an opportunity to peruse briefly some of Police Executive Research Forum’s Use of Force recommendations, and found the bit I saw reasonable, yet demanding of a much higher level of training and coordination for patrol officers, as well as equipment much more commonly associated with SWAT teams. Indeed an example they cite is the NYPDs ESU.
And this on the heels of the NTOA’s SWAT study showing that SWAT is eight times more likely to use less lethal force than lethal.
But why is that?
Well, what do most SWAT teams have that most patrol officers do not?
1: A physical fitness standard, usually ongoing, with one or two fitness tests a year that have to be passed to remain operational.
2. A much higher level of concentrated time practicing firearms.
3. A much higher level of concentrated time practicing with less lethal options, including impact projectiles, that allow greater distance and more reaction time than Tasers.
4. A far greater amount of scenario based, decision-oriented training dealing with a variety of tactical situations.
Been saying it all along….