A great number of training scenarios start off with the words “For the purpose of the scenario.” What follows usually sets the stage for the scenario such as:
- The nature of the call.
- The information that is known about the complainant, subject, etc.
- The time of day.
- The number of officers at the available.
- Previous dealings if any with the subject.
- Any safety concerns or issues.
- Any restrictions or limitations created by equipment issues.
- Any other information that is pertinent for the officer to know for the scenario.
This information is necessary for the officer to understand the nature of the call and to be able to imagine themselves in that situation and treat it as if it was a real situation on the street.
What concerns me is when the information following those words “For the purpose of the scenario” causes the officer to violate tactics or previous training. I have seen scenarios where the officer indicated to the instructor that they would never go into this type of situation without backup. The instructor acknowledged that the officer’s point was valid then said “For the purposes of the scenario you will go in by yourself anyway.” If sending the officer in alone violates tactics, training and S.O.P.’s then why do it? If there is a need to have the officer go in alone in order to accomplish a specific learning objective (not just for the enjoyment of the instructor and role players) then create a realistic scenario where the officer would go in by themselves.
The same type of situation occurs where officers are sent in without some of the force response options or equipment they would have on the street. These scenarios are generally designed because the instructors want the officers to use a specific weapon, tool or technique. I have three concerns with this type of scenario:
- The scenarios are often unrealistic,
- The scenarios do not allow for proper decision making by the officer and,
- The scenario creates an opportunity (legitimate or not) for the officer to make excuses in order to justify less desirable performance in the scenario.
- Make scenarios realistic.
- Make safety a priority.
- Allow officers all the force options and allow them to have to make decisions whenever possible.
- Avoid forcing officers to compromise their tactics and training to be able to run the scenario.
- Seek out training in how to effectively run scenarios.
- Make the time to ensure all scenarios are properly crafted and run to allow for optimal learning for the officers.