This week’s blog posting will be the first in a series that will focus on gaps in training. As law enforcement trainers it is incumbent upon us to continually examine our training programs and practices to determine what gaps exist. By gaps I am referring to three primary areas:
1. Training that is incomplete – scenarios not taken to their natural conclusion.
2. Missing elements in training where it is assumed that the officer will be able to fill in the blanks or solve difficult problems in the middle of a situation.
3. Training that is not reflective of what officers encounter in the field.
There are times in training where we fail to provide a complete experience for officers. An example is when a scenario is stopped as soon as the subject gets shot. In reality, the situation is far from over at that point. What’s Important Now are critical issues of:
- Is the threat actually stopped?
- Is the officer in the most desirable tactical position?
- Does anyone else know where the officer is and what has happened?
- Is the officer injured?
- Are there other threats the officer needs to address?
If the training does not incorporate these and other issues into it by having the officer address and complete those tasks then the training is incomplete. The result may be less desirable as the officer may momentarily freeze and fail to address those areas and responsibilities. In order to engrain this response into the subconscious officers must be trained in these tactics.
The same gap also occurs when officers are trained using video interactive judgmental use of force simulators (FATS, PRISM, etc). When the scenario ends and the screen goes blank, too often the training simply stops and the debriefing begins. A more desirable way to complete this training would be to utilize officers as role players and have them continue with the scenario from the various positions that people were in when the screen went blank. This forces the officer to assess the threat(s), assess his or her tactical position, call for assistance and determine the next course of action. By adding this simple step the mental loop for the officer is completed and he or she is better prepared for the realities in the field.
If you have officers request back up during live or simulator generated scenarios do you actually have back up show up so the officers is trained in how to direct responding units?
We all need to take a step back regarding our training as ask ourselves are there any incomplete elements in my training. The step back is important. We all have a tendency to be emotionally invested in the training we develop and deliver. As a result of that investment it is easy to miss something that is right in front of you. Consider having someone from outside your unit come in to observe from an objective position and simply ask you questions about your training. You may be surprised at what those simple questions can uncover.