If you are making your own videos to use in your training or making marketing videos for your training or product pay attention to the details in the video. This is a lesson we learned years ago in my former agency. We had a great in-house video unit who continually won LEVA awards for the videos they produced. They made sure they got our input on scripts for training videos they were going to make, but we quickly learned we needed to have members of our unit there during filming and whenever possible ensured they were using instructors to play the police roles in the videos.
Why? Because the video unit people are subject matter resources in all things video, not in use of force, officer safety or subject control tactics. As a result there were a couple of videos that were of exceptionally high quality, but the tactics the officers used were not consistent with what we taught. If the videos are released with less desirable or inappropriate tactics, then by default you are condoning the tactics and techniques shown in the video.
I continually see videos of officers on the range doing firearms training and none of the officers or instructors is wearing body armor. I watched a marketing video recently for a product that may have some good applications for the profession and was stunned to see some of the poor weapons handling in the video by people I assume are instructors for the product. If I were in a position to be looking to purchase the product I would have some serious reservations about the quality of instruction for my trainers simply based on the video. Another marketing video I saw online for a large training company showed trainees in a baton training drill. Based on what I saw in the video I immediately had reservations about the quality and effectiveness of training provided in all areas by this organization and would be hesitant to send any officers to them for training.
The same issue goes for still photos. There is one magazine cover that causes me to shudder every time I see it as it appears to show an officer pointing his pistol at the head of a subject who is just feet away, on his knees with his hands on the back of his head and his fingers interlaced. It may simply be that the nature of still photos gives a false depth perception, or it may be that the actors and photographer they used didn’t know any better, but none the less that is what it appears is happening and I have a huge issue with that. A number of years ago a picture on the front page of one of our local newspapers caused a major public outcry, as it appeared to show SWAT officers pointing their weapons at a woman and child coming out of a motel room. Was that what really happened? No, it was a false perception created by the flat image. Did that matter to outraged members of the public? No. To them it had to be what really happened. After all, there is a picture to prove it.
Over the years I have seen holster adds in magazines that show a large criminal grabbing an officer’s holstered pistol with both hands. The officer in the picture is doing nothing to retain his weapon and has a clenched fist cocked about to deliver a fisted strike to the subject’s head. Putting your life in the hands of a piece of plastic or leather may be a fatal mistake. If you can get your gun out of your holster, so can an assailant. That close fisted punch to the subject’s head will likely strike the crown of the skull as the subject is dropping his head and weight in the gun grab and will likely result in a broken dominant hand for the officer further complicating his situation as the subject gains control of his weapon.
In my opinion, a training or marketing video that is very high quality, but contains poor tactics or safety violations is of limited value, and may in fact be dangerous. Pay close attention to what is in the videos or images you are using. It would be prudent to have someone who was not involved in the development take a look at the video or picture with a critical eye to tactics and safety issues before you start to use them. It may mean you have to reshoot the video or retake the photo. So be it. It is better to invest the time up front than to have to do damage control after it has been released.
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