I have had the opportunity to serve with some the greatest law enforcement officers and professionals in the world. It has been 31 years since I started my law enforcement career and I have had some amazing training experiences that have helped shape my life. My story is simple, Military Police, Corrections Officer, Police Officer, Deputy Sheriff and Federal Special Agent. I continue to grow each and every day however if there is one thing that I wish that I have known when I started three decades ago, is the philosophy of taking all training serious.
I have unfortunately, sat in many classes spaced out and saying to myself, I will never need or use this stuff. This instructor is terrible, where did they get this person. I cannot believe I wasted my day off to come to this training. Every one of us has possibly had one of these thoughts. I am going to suggest to you that once you have had this thought, it will be but a few shorts minutes, maybe days or sometimes even years later you will be in the middle of a situation and you will say to yourself, ”Damn”, I wish that I had paid more attention in that class. Trust me when I say this, take all training serious, you truly never know when you will need to pull a tool out of your tool box and you want to certainly know how to use it.
Brian Willis is always talking about WIN! What’s Important Now! This is so powerful. Think about WIN the next time you are sitting in a training class and remember the most important thing you can do is absorb all the information the instructor is providing and figure out a way to make it stick in that brain of yours. You never know if the next call you are on, will test you like you have never been tested before. The simple fact that you paid attention and thought about how you could apply your new knowledge could very well save you or your partner’s life.
Let us take CPR as an example. Shake to establish consciousness. Ask if they are Ok. Have someone dial 911 for assistance. Check the airway for obstructions. Check the pulse, give breaths and compressions. Do you really want to be trying to figure out what to do next while you are in the middle of saving someone’s life? I think not!
Life has a way of slapping you in the face with you least expect it. You need to have a plan of attack to deal with this slap and move forward. Taking your training seriously will certainly help. Here are some additional thoughts:
Take notes. Ask questions. Get involved in the class and learn as much as you can. Be an active participant and student. This will go a long way in retention. I also suggest that upon completion of your training, review, review and review. Reviewing you notes helps with retention. You should probably do this for several weeks following the training. One other trick for retention is too immediately teach the skills you learned to someone else. At the minimum, discuss what you learned with someone else.
If there is one piece of advice that I could give, here it is. Follow and Live the “The Tactical Lifestyle”. The concept of Tactical Lifestyle is borrowed from my good friend and excellent trainer, Dennis Martin. If you do not know Dennis, please visit his website at www.cqbservices.com. He is one of the best. The Tactical Lifestyle focuses on a blend of Mindset, Tactics, Skills and Kit acquired during training and used every day in travel, work, home and leisure activities.
Proper mindset is critical. It is often stated by some of the great gunfighters; that combat is 90% mental, 5% skill and 5% luck. As far as mindset applies to the Tactical Lifestyle, there are two principles that need to be discussed. They are Colonel Boyd’s OODA Loop and Threat Evaluation. In my opinion, you need to immediately start your research and study of Boyd’s Loop. The loop consists of four phases, Observation, Orientation, Decision and Action. It is a life saving principle that has unfortunately been overlooked by many. Do not be one of the many. As far as threat evaluation is concerned, look at realistic threats that you could face on a daily basis and have a plan to deal with these threats. Mentally image a positive outcome for each threat and when time is available role-play the scenarios with fellow officers and find viable conclusion to each threat.
Tactics is the next part of the Tactical Lifestyle. You should develop a set of core tactics to deal with a variety of situations. You tactics should become a habit. Obviously the only way to do this is constant, serious practice. I call this practicing with intent. Too often we just go through the motion during training. Do not fall into this trap. When you are training, train! We can play later and I am all for that aspect of life also. You should also practice integrated team tactics. Often we are tasked with working with other individuals, so it would be extremely beneficial if our tactical thinking matched.
You must practice Skills that work. These are just a small example of skills that you should be practicing. Defensive tactics, firearms, immediate weapon use, first aid and driving skills. The list could and should be endless. The main point is to practice effective skills that transfer effectively from the gym to the street. Remember, stress is the prime consideration when talking about skills. The skills that you are practicing must work under extremely stressful situations. If they do not work in the controlled environment of the training hall, then they will most certainly not work on the street.
Lastly, you must know your Kit i.e. your Equipment. Please make sure you kit is serviced and in working conditions and do not carry kit that you do not know how to use. It is great to have the latest and greatest equipment, but it would be even better if we knew how to use it during a crisis. My thoughts are keep it simple and it should be ready when needed.
Well, there you have it. This is my five cents worth of information based on my experiences. The law enforcement profession is a very noble occupation. You will not receive many pats on the back, raises or awards. You can however, except that during your career you will most likely be assaulted, spat on, possibly shot at and all other sorts of nasty things. You have chosen this profession for your own reasons. I only aks two things, first take your Training Serious because you just never know when you will need the skills you are being taught. Secondly, live the Tactical Lifestyle. Proper mindset, solid, proven tactics, the development of practical hard and soft skills, and the knowledge of your equipment will go a very long way to ensure not only your survival, but will give you the edge to WIN! Thank you and Best wishes.