What we are currently seeing in many agencies around North America is the illusion of preparation. They brought in some training company to put all their people through a one or two day training program on to respond to an active shooter at a school. Some agencies have purchased rifles for their schools. Some have also purchased ballistic shields. All these things can create the illusion of being prepared.
Granted, you might be prepared if an “active shooter” event takes place in a school in your jurisdiction the first week or two of school. What happens however, if the active killer event does not involve a shooter but someone with a knife or an axe or takes place the last week of the school year instead of the first, or takes place during a school dance, parent – teacher interviews, Christmas concert, or school play instead of during regular school hours. What happens when the active killer event takes place at a mall, an office complex, a warehouse, an airport, a sporting event, an open-air concert, a place of worship, a park, or any place other than a school during regular school hours.
Rifles can be a valuable tool in an active killer event. The rifle, however, is just a tool. If the officer tasked with using it is not competent and confident with that weapon system, then it may be a liability and not an asset. How often are your people training with those rifles? Are they doing flat range training practicing shooting a static target while they are also static? Are they training to shoot a human in side profile, not facing straight on like most targets? Are they training to shoot while moving? Are they training to shoot a target that is moving laterally as well as moving towards and away from them? Are they training to shoot a moving target while they are moving?
Ballistic shields can be a valuable tool, but they are just a tool. Are your officers competent and confident in the utilization of a shield? Are they trained to shoot one handed while holding a shield? Are they trained to engage a threat when they are behind or beside the officer holding the shield? Are they trained to do these things while they are moving, and the subject is moving?
One off, blocked training creates the illusion that the officers who participated are trained in, and proficient in, those perishable skills. Providing rifles, shields, breaching tools and relying on one off training creates the illusion that the officers who participated are trained in, and proficient in, those perishable skills. Training for one specific type of attack, at a specific location and expecting that translates into the ability to respond to all manner of attacks, in a variety of novel situations, simply creates an illusion of preparation and unrealistic expectations for your people.
If you are not providing ongoing training in skills, tools, and tactics then you are failing to prepare your people. If you are not continually training the skills of critical thinking, problem solving and decision making, then you are failing to prepare your people. You can give them all the gear and tactics you want, but if you have not helped them prepare their mind for where their body may have to go, then you may just have set them up to fail and when they fail, the critics will all surface on social media and will blame them, call them cowards, and suggest they get out of the profession.
Truly preparing your people is a year-round, and career long commitment. One off training does not cut it. 10 minutes a day, every day, augmented with longer training sessions is a good start.
Take a step back and assess whether you are prepared, preparing, or simply under the illusion of being prepared.
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