Have a Great Training Program?

I want to know about it!

By Jim Glennon  |   Oct 10, 2017
Georgetown (Texas) PD is one of the great agencies out there--and they train to be that way.
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Law enforcement takes a lot of hits when it comes to, well, almost everything we do and every decision we make.

Most of what the politicians, pundits, and media pushes about the collective of law enforcement is based on their own biases. Their characterization of law enforcement is supported by the use of skewed and cherry-picked stats that feed a narrative.

In one specific area, I, in a strange way, agree with those who look to vilify us.

Training

I agree with those who disparage us when they claim that we train the wrong way in the wrong areas. My agreement, however, is qualified and comes from a completely different perspective.

Contrary to what’s propagated in the media—where it’s portrayed that we relentlessly train like military warriors—law enforcement, in reality, does the exact opposite.

We don’t train or prepare for high-pressure situations at all. At least most of the departments don’t.

Calibre Press did a survey and what we found was not surprising to those of us who have spent decades in the profession. The survey addressed how often departments mandate training in the areas of shooting and decision-making, hands-on-control-skills, and dealing with real stress. Here’s what we found:

  • More than 60% of the officers reported that they are required to shoot on the range only once or twice annually;
  • Only 1% said they are required to shoot monthly;
  • 82% train in dynamic, decision making, ‘shoot/don’t shoot’ scenario-type training once a year or less;
  • 25% NEVER train in dynamic, decision-making scenarios;
  • 55% do control/defensive tactics training once a year;
  • 30% do it less than annually; and
  • 42% never do any kind of defensive tactics training.

The responses revealed what is perhaps the principal and most significant fault in this profession: failure to train our officers in a manner that applies to what it is they do and in the areas that hold the most opportunity for liability, injuries and death—both officer and civilian deaths.

In police training programs proficiency is not achieved, not in the slightest. It doesn’t even pretend to try. At least in most agencies and in most subjects.

I believe our blatant disregard for essential applicable training may literally rise to the level of culpable negligence. And I realize that is a strong statement to make.

Please understand, I’m not casting a wide net over each agency’s administrative staffs, implying that they have a moral disregard for their officers and organizational Missions. On the contrary, I believe most want to do what is right and see the need for a reassessment of what and how we train our personnel. So why doesn’t it happen?

Bureaucracy! Manpower and budget issues! Public expectations! Lack of buy-in from administrators! All high hurdles to leap.

More than this, how do you define police work today? That definition seems limitless. We are jacks of all trades, expected to:

  • be able to shoot accurately under the most extreme stress, determine instantaneously when the threat is over, and just as quickly stop pulling the trigger;
  • display emotive empathy while taking nothing at all personally;
  • be able to diagnose a person’s emotional state, determine if there are mental health or substance abuse issues, pinpoint what they are, and respond with diagnostic perfection;
  • have the ability to calm the irrational and talk down the suicidal while maintaining a demeaner that avoids said person turning homicidal in an instant;
  • know case law, statutes, and ordinances, as well as adhere to policies, procedures, protocols, and general orders;
  • use just the right amount of force necessary to thwart an attack or arrest an aggressive or resistive subject—and ‘too much’ is always subjective, influenced by the political climate of the moment.
  • use the right words at the right time with the right tone and demeanor;
  • respect rioting protesters, giving room to emote while trying to determine which ones harbor criminal intent, and, when criticized for their response—inevitably—say nothing or apologize; 
  • deal with the multitudes of personalities found in the human condition, often many at the same time, all with different thoughts, desires, wants and needs; and
  • respond proficiently under extreme stress, return to calm immediately when the threat is over, write a report that includes every detail in exact order with full quotes from all participants AS THEY HAPPENED.

How can you possibly find enough time to train so police officers are proficient in each of these areas? Train so reflexive responses under high-stress are appropriate and applied correctly?

Keep in mind, for muscle memory to become automatic, one, two, three and even four times a year for a few hours won’t do it. It must be done much more than that. So systemically, it seems virtually impossible.

However, I’ve had officers around the country argue with me saying that such training is done in their agencies, and this is one of the reasons for the article.

Good Training

I’m looking for those departments.

Here’s why. Calibre Press is in the process of writing two books set for release next year. The first is a rewrite and update of the original Street Survival book from 1980. Lt. Dan Marcou, a 40-year tactical veteran, instructor, and accomplished author is taking the lead on that one with some help from yours truly and an original author, Mr. Charles Remsberg.

The second book is tentatively titled Beyond Street Survival. In it we examine how officers die outside of felonious assaults; how leadership, organizational structures and, in particular, single-event and chronic stress causes officers to perform poorly and its impact on emotional and physical health.

How we prepare and train is an integral part of the manuscript. We are looking outside the profession, talking to doctors and examining research by sports psychologists, as well as analyzing those who perform the best in high-pressure situations.

So, if you have a systemic training program that in it you have pride, please email me. If you have a program that you, as an individual have decided to participate in to prepare for street confrontations, let me know what that is.

My email is Jim [at] CalibrePress.com. I look forward to hearing from you.

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Jim Glennon
Lt. Jim Glennon (ret.) is the owner and lead instructor for Calibre Press. He is a third-generation LEO, retired from the Lombard, Ill. PD after 29 years of service. Rising to the rank of lieutenant, he commanded both patrol and the Investigations Unit. In 1998, he was selected as the first Commander of Investigations for the newly formed DuPage County Major Crimes (Homicide) Task Force. He has a BA in Psychology, a Masters in Law Enforcement Justice Administration, is the author of the book Arresting Communication: Essential Interaction Skills for Law Enforcement.
Jim Glennon

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