I’m Coming Home
What's really learned in most law enforcement training?By Rajib Bhattacharjee | Dec 13, 2018
“Every time you train, train with the motivation and purpose that you will be the hardest person someone ever tries to kill.”–Tim Kennedy
Throughout a multitude of law enforcement training courses that I’ve taken in my career has been a consistent message that the most important mission objective of a LEO is to come home at the end of your shift. Setting aside any philosophical or doctrinal disagreements that you may have with this goal, the purpose of this article is to ask and discuss the question: Are we actually training our LEOs to make it home?
Before we dive into this question, allow me to assert this: I believe that mindset trumps tactics. Training in both is ideal, of course. But mindset is that intangible game-changer. People and teams with winning mindsets have been able to defeat the odds again and again. We need only look at history to see this is true: The Battle of Camaron of April 30, 1863, which the French Foreign legion earned their creed, “The legion dies, it does not surrender”; the Siege of Bastogne December 19 – 26, 1944; Capt. Ben L. Salomon vs. the Japanese army in 1944; U.S. Marshall Bass Reeves’ career; Deputy Jennifer Fulford-Salvano, who was shot multiple times and yet able to perform her duty; Officer Marcus Young, also shot multiple times and also able to perform his duty and prevail—the list goes on.
Although the weapons, armor, tactics, individuals, culture, and scenarios were all different one thing remained consistent: that indomitable will to win. Are we, in law enforcement, helping to foster this indomitable spirit in our fellow LEOs? Are you as a peer, mentor, leader, trainer, or supervisor setting the example that the winning mindset is the most important tool that we need to forge and harden?
I know that many LEOs look at training days as an “easy day.” When they attend training, the two most important questions are 1) When’s lunch? and 2) Do we have to be here till 1700? In addition, the back of the venue always fill up before the front of the venue. I have personally seen this behavior repeated, regardless of the type of course. In other words, we’re preparing to eat, be last to arrive, and get home before evening traffic gets bad. Such a mindset does not lead to victory unless your opponent is a long commute home.
Science has shown that we do not rise to the occasion but sink to our lowest level of training. So why do we train to go to lunch, hide in the back to avoid attention, and go home early? Why do we allow such behavior from ourselves, our peers, and, yes, even our instructors who compromise of their material to fit within this envelope? Why do we allow ourselves to look at training days as “easy days,” instead of a chance to relight the fire of the forge that hardens our mental resolve?
I posit to you, my brothers and sisters in law enforcement, that we do not teach LEOs to come home. Instead, we teach them to give up when things get hard, find the easy way out, and/or train objectives not relevant to the task. Part of this is due to administrative issues, i.e. overtime or manpower shortage. These issues are not insurmountable. There are other organizations that manage their personnel effectively in order to ensure individuals can attend training. If other professions are able to solve manpower issues, so too can law enforcement.
Ultimately, the individual LEO receiving the training must ask the question of him or herself: What is more important to me? Clocking in an hour or two of OT which may limit future training opportunities or developing professional pride and tradecraft mastery by staying until the learning objectives are completed? And: Which decision will ultimately stack the odds in my favor enabling me to complete the mission and go home?
Remember that our opponent does not get paid by the hour. They don’t care how long it takes, or what it takes. They are there to complete an objective. If you plan on standing in their way, as our profession demands, you have essentially entered a battle of wills. Who wants it more? You or the criminals who want to complete their objectives regardless of cost?
Yes, it is difficult to be a LEO. President Calvin Coolidge summarized the challenge before you when he said:
No one is compelled to choose the profession of Police Officer. But having chosen it, everyone is obligated to perform its duties and live up to the high standards of its requirements.
Law enforcement is equal parts the best job ever and the worst job ever. There’s no other job like it. However, once you raise your right hand and swear, “Send me, I shall go!” it’s paramount that you train like lives, including yours, depend upon you and your actions.
Be safe and do great things my blue family!