One of the things that has bothered me over the years is when law enforcement agencies run their academies like military boot camps. I have pondered the reasons for this over the years and I believe that one factor is ‘Unintended Consequences of Selective Memory Regarding Military Basic Training’.
While this sounds fancy it is actually pretty simple. I know a number of law enforcement professionals and trainers who have prior military service. I have a great deal of respect for them for their dual careers in the warrior community. The one consistent however, is that everyone remembers the same two things from book camp. They remember being treated like crap and they remember how great it felt at the end when everyone came together as a unit and graduated as warriors. If they went through a similar program during their recruit training in law enforcement they have similar memories of that training.
The problem with this type of selective memory is that they believe that the way to create new warriors in their training programs is to scream and yell and treat their recruits like crap. People become enamoured with what they recall as the benefits of pain assisted learning. Even if they have never been through boot camp they have watched the movies so they know how the process works.
I concerns me for a number of reasons:
- What is missing is the art and science of the drill instructor selection, mentoring and training process during boot camp.
- Law enforcement is not the military. The missions are very different and the demographics of the recruit population is very different.
- When you graduate from boot camp you do not get the keys to the Humvee, and rifle and orders to go forth on your own and conquer. The majority of military personnel never work alone during their careers. They work in squads, platoons and divisions. The majority of law enforcement personnel however, will work part or all of their career by themselves once they are finished their field training program. Law enforcement professionals are the ‘on scene commander’ for the majority of the calls for service they handle during their career.
Because of these and other differences in the two professions we need to be cautious of the unintended consequences of selective memory and structure training programs that are appropriate to the specific demands of our professions.