The Control Tactics Training Room
The message from the classroom must be carried forward into the control tactics training area. This can be accomplished in a number of ways. It starts with officers understanding that perhaps the most important role they will ever perform in training is when they are playing the role of the subject. It is just that – a role, and they must play it effectively to help their fellow officers learn the skills necessary to allow them to prevail on the street. When officers are in that role they need to mentally put themselves in the mindset of the subject and imagine how someone who was about to attack an officer would think, talk and act. The next step is to display all the appropriate body language and verbiage to allow the officer to learn to read the situation and then quickly and appropriately respond to threat cues.
A problematic question often asked in training rooms is “What category of subject can you use this technique/tool/tactic on?” This question is asked to reinforce the classroom theory about subject behavior categories and to ensure the officer can answer the question correctly on the use of force exam. The reason this question is problematic is that it creates a direct link in the minds of the officers between the response option and the subject behavior category. Following an incident when those officers are asked to explain why they selected a specific force option, too often his or her trained response is “because he was ………. category of subject.”
A better question in the training room would be, “What subject behaviors and situational factors would allow you to use this option?” This question creates a link between totality of circumstances and options resulting in officers learning to tell a story and articulate the big picture. A good follow up question would be “Based on those factors what other options would you have available to you?” These types of open-ended questions take away the labels, tags and shortcuts resulting in a greater ability for officers to explain behaviors and options using common language.
In keeping with the themes from the classroom it is critical to build failure drills into all use of force training. This means that officers must be presented with training situations where the technique or tool fails to work as advertised and fails to establish control of the subject requiring the officer to transition to an alternative response option. Officers should also be placed in situations where they have to transition from one response option to another due to the fact that the dynamics of the situation have changed. For example following the initial baton strike an officer may end up too close to the subject to use the baton for additional strikes making it more desirable to use knee strikes or some other form of empty hand control.
It is critical that principles and concepts taught in the classroom and the control tactics training room must be consistent with those delivered during firearms training, vehicle stop training, building clearing training, and rapid intervention training. To this end, it is important that instructors within these fields are cross trained or at the very least communicate with each other to ensure they know definitively what is being taught in each of the other areas.
Friday we will talk about simulators as an articulation training tool.