There is a difference between someone having attended training and someone “being trained”. Too often when things go badly people in key positions in organizations attempt to abdicate themselves from any responsibility by saying, “He or she was trained in ___________.” What they mean is, “It is completely on the person or people involved. We, as an organization and as people in key leadership positions in the organization, bear no responsibility for what happened. We trained them, so it is obviously their fault.”
If you were to pull back the curtain and really look at the training what you often find is simply a 2, 4 or 8 hour informational session where people were exposed to information, principles and concepts. What you very often do not see is an in depth training program where they were taught the theory along with the foundational principles and skills then provided the opportunity to practice those skills in a variety of increasingly challenging contexts and situations. During this training they were allowed to mistakes and learn from the mistakes through effective debriefings.
Having “attended training” does not equate to “Being Trained”. Attending training can be passive with little or not engagement and little or no thought or action required. Some of these training programs are packed with as much information as can possibly be crammed into the allotted time so that at the end of the day someone can tick the box and say, “They were trained.”
I get it. Sometimes the best you can do with the time and resources you have is to present an informational session and hope that some of what you presented sticks.
I am also very clear that trainers do not control learning. The participants in a training program control learning. Trainers, and organizations, are responsible to provide relevant material and present it in a manner and environment that is most conducive to learning. Learning is a team sport.
Every time an incident does not turn out the way some special interest group wants it to they immediately scream that the police need more training. Ongoing training and education is critical and we do need to be continually seeking more effective ways to ensure law enforcement professionals receive high quality, ongoing, professional development training. However, if we as a profession cater to every special interest group’s demands then our people would always be in training and never be out on the street to answer calls. Sometimes the best we can do is provide informational seminars to expose people to information.
Next time you are tempted to say, “Our people are trained in ________.” Step back and ask yourself, “Are they trained in that or did they attend training on that topic?” If you are not happy with the answer, what are you going to do to change things.
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