Over the years I have noticed a trend in training that causes me a great deal of concern. It is most common during weapon disarming training, but I have also seen it during edged weapons training. The problem stems from the fact that once officers have disarmed their training partner (the subject) who is pointing a gun at them there is a concern about the officer handing the gun back to the subject in order to get in another repetition. I agree with this concern. We want to avoid officers training to disarm a subject and then hand the subject the gun back. We have all heard the stories of this happening and whether those stories are based in fact or simply urban myths is unimportant; it is a less desirable habit to train.
In order to address this concern I have seen a few ‘solutions’ over the years that concern me. The two most common ones are:
- Having the officer say “For training purposes.” while handing the gun back.
- Having the officer throw the gun on the ground at the subject’s feet.
While well intentioned, both of these solutions are flawed. In the first scenario the officer is simply training to say “For training purposes only.” while handing the gun back to a subject they have just disarmed. It has not eliminated the problem just added an explanation to the less desirable process.
In the second scenario where the officer throws the weapon on the ground the explanation I get when I ask officer why they did that is “I was taught never to hand a gun back to a subject.” Fair enough, but they have just been trained to disarm a subject who is pointing a gun at them and threatening their life, then throw the gun on the ground at the subject’s feet.
The solution to the concern is fairly simple if we just think about what we want to accomplish. Once the officer has disarmed the subject simply have them keep the weapon. At this point in training the officer who has just completed the disarming becomes the subject and points the gun at the next officer.
At the earlier stages of training where they are just completing the first stages of the disarm and need to switch roles after a set number of repetitions, the person holding the gun can simply hand the weapon over but first to their partner. Officers handle guns and knives in a variety of settings and have to learn how to safely hand them to someone else so let them practice here.
In the next entry we will discuss some of the training considerations one the officer has completed the disarm.