I have been concerned for some time about training provided to officers in the use of Conducted Energy Weapons (CEW). Let me state first of all that I am a big fan of CEW’s and believe they are a valuable tool for officers in the field. I pushed for five years to have them adopted by my agency and got the approval just before I retired.
The concern I have is that too many agencies have simply adopted the manufacturer training model. While this training provides a good foundation in the use of the tool there are some elements missing (or at least there were when I went through the instructor course). As a result there are a few training gaps and unintended consequences related to some of the CEW training being conducted around North America. In this series os posts I will address a few of the ones that I have observed.
Concern – You need to step back and examine where in your overall recruit training program CEW training is provided. In many agencies it is near the end of recruit training. The concern I have with this is that recruits are provided the theory on how it works to override the CNS, shown the videos of it working the way it is supposed to, then they are provided the opportunity to either experience first hand or observe a classmate take the 5 second ride. After all this they believe they have just been handed the magic phaser that will always work and stop all threats. Armed this this over confidence they venture forth into the world and begin to use the CEW to deal with everyone.
Solution – One option that has worked for some agencies I have consulted with is to simply move the CEW training forward so it is done early. This allows you to build in more scenarios in training using the CEW and integrating it with other force options. It also allows for the ability to build in failure drills. Failure drills teach officers what to do when the tool or technique they are using fails to do the job as advertised. Failure drills teach officers to solve problems and transition to other force response options. Failure drills allow the officer to succeed when one or all of their tools fail. Failure drills are a must for all use of force options. Unfortunately they are an element of CEW training that is too often left out of training.
If you are implementing CEW’s for patrol officers and bringing them in for training on the tool make sure you allow enough time for decision making scenarios and failure drills.
Next week we will examine other areas of CEW training where there are gaps or unintended consequences.