The Police Training Travesty

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Some valid information regarding unintentional shootings by police, and what to do to fix it.

Hint: Train!

Train more often, more realistically, and under increasing amounts of pressure. Exactly what police agencies do not do. 

That this idea is gaining traction, finally, after at least two decades in my career where I and many others have been pointing it out, is bittersweet. It goes right along with the shocking revelation from LAPD that police might need refresher training in grappling to better handle hand-to-hand encounters. (An article that I have repeatedly mentioned here at IHW.)

Groups like the Police Executive Research Forum (PERF) show up in many of these stories. But they have been barking up the wrong tree, and looking in the wrong places. It will not do for states to reduce firearms and tactics training, because recruits “get too much of it” at academies across the country and need to re-focus on de-esalation.

Quite the opposite – they must do more, and under more realistic conditions. And this training must continue throughout their careers. Now, post-academy, many agencies do little to no mandatory training post-academy, other than run minimum proficiency qualifications. For those that do train, the actual time practicing adds up to a few hours a year.

A few hours a year. 

And then to expect them to go into adrenalized, high threat situations and perform as “armed professionals?” This is laughable, and in any other performance-based endeavor would be considered negligent. Just not in police work, where we have even leading lights, former executives and leaders specifically trying to address problems and to reform the profession, telling us police are training too much in tactical subjects – while conveniently only looking at academy numbers and ignoring what the vast majority of agencies are giving to their people throughout their careers.



If anything is a perfect storm example of the Training Travesty, this disgraceful performance by a Greenville South Carolina Deputy runs the gamut. Bad tactical decision making (no cover, premature “code 4”), poor situation management, poor subject management, escalating rather than de-escalating, then unable to handle the situation after it escalated, utterly incapable of physical control of the suspect, drawing her firearm in abject fear, managing to miss her attacker at under 3 yards – yet shoot his mother – and atrocious gun handling. Never mind the complete lack of physical fitness demonstrated. Guess what – if the cop is getting tired, or is physically overwhelmed, shooting someone is legit. That’s why this was a justified shooting.

Translation: the cop can come in, be totally tactically and technically incompetent, completely out of shape, amp the situation up, and if the cop is overwhelmed physically and/or emotionally after creating this mess, the decision to shoot is justified.

You read that right. And PERF thinks we should be training our officers less in tactical skills?

Who “de-escalated” this? The cop at the end that comes in, kicks the guy in the head, and takes him into custody uninjured.

With no help from the deputy that caused all the problems. He had to take care of the situation and help her.

True de-escalation, the kind that makes the public and officers safer, can only come from a position of strength and skill, not authority. Too many officers have authority, but nothing to back it up. Hardened criminals already know this, but most often choose not to do anything to weak officers because they don’t want to deal with the repercussions. Think about that for a minute. Many officers get away with it because the suspect allows it, not the other way around.

For some low level offenders, like the guy here, all it takes is the right mix of drunk and annoyance, and minor resistance will overwhelm those same officers. Now think about that – minor resistance will overwhelm many officers.

In another twenty years, something may be done about it.

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