During control tactics (defensive tactics) training are your people training with full duty belt, boots, and body armor? If not, you may be unintentionally setting them up for failure on the street.
I know the argument some trainers make for not doing training with all their gear is that training with boots and duty belts damages the mats, mats are expensive, and you cannot afford to be continually replacing mats. I understand that. So, find a way to cover and protect your mats to allow you to train properly. We had the same concerns in our training unit with the Calgary Police Service. The solution one of the training unit members came up with was to go to a local tent and awning company and ask them to make us a heavy-duty cover for the mats. They obliged and Wally then secured the cover to the floor on all four sides so it covered the full surface of the training mats. This protected the mats from damage, and keep dirt, hair, and other residue from getting between the mats, making the cleaning far easier. It then allowed us to have recruits and in-service officers train with their boots and duty belts on without damaging the mats.
If your officers continually train without their duty gear, they are not learning how to protect their weapons, which may cost them their life on the street. They are also failing to learn how their duty gear impacts their mobility and range of motion. It is important for officers to spend at least some training time wearing their body armor, especially if your officers wear external carriers, as many do these days. In many agencies the external body armor carriers also serve as load bearing vests for rifle magazines, medical kits, and an assortment of other gear. As with the duty belt there are equipment retention issues as well as mobility issues, especially on the ground. Officers also need to know how to deal with situations where a subject grabs them by the outer carrier and uses that leverage to control or unbalance the officer.
Wearing a martial arts gi may be fine for martial arts training, but it is not appropriate for police control tactics training. Again, the officers are not learning to function in the gear they will wear on the street and they are not learning to protect their weapons. Also, subjects on the street are not going to be wearing a gi for the officer to manipulate like they did in training. When I interviewed BJJ black belt Greg Souders for The Excellence in Training Academy about his applications of ecological dynamics principles at his BJJ school he mentioned that they do all no gi training. When I asked why, he explained his personal revelation that training in a gi was simply jacket wrestling and that you learned to use the jacket (gi) to control the body instead of using the body to control the body. This is an important insight for police trainers.
I am also concerned when I see pictures and videos posted online of police officers training on the range, and firearms instructors conducting training on the range, without body armor. Every time a police officer or police trainer steps on the range they should be wearing body armor.
I understand the reasons why trainers do not have people wear their duty gear while training, but you need to consider the unintended consequences of well-intentioned training. There is too much at stake to continue to do training without duty gear and then wondering why officers put themselves in positions on the street where they are vulnerable to subjects disarming them.
“Do the best you can until you know better. Then, when you know better, do better.”
With everything we know about learning, teaching, coaching, skill acquisition and adaptation, and training we should know better. So, let’s do better.
Winning Mind Training – Providing practical training to law enforcement professionals in the areas of instructor development, Performance Enhancement Imagery, leadership and mindset.