I always enjoy attending the expo at my state chiefs training conference. I go wading through the sea of techno cool stuff. Programs here, gadgets there and the techno-crowd all become giggly. My problem is that it goes without saying; I have not seen a gadget solve, or for that matter arrest, book or pop out a set of handcuffs yet. OK, I know about computer tracking, evidence tracking and all the cool nicky neat gadgets but I sometimes am not the more high tech guy in the crowd.
Training the real software
Maybe I am old school, but the best crime fighting tool or instrument is a well trained police officer. Let’s see, if a good cop is hardware, let’s work on their software end - which would be their training. You cannot expect a machine to work efficiently and to its maximum capacity without being tuned up and having the latest updates. Coppers are no different. If you are a chief or commander of a training unit, my question to you: have you offered real training recently?
Teaching about active shooter strategies and responses can’t be done in the classroom without physical interaction. That is like building a great engine on the drawing board but never turning the key to fire it up. Cops want interactive and real training. Let me say this even better: real cops crave realistic training. In training circles I have heard the following saying a million times: Top notch equipment with poor training will end in poor results but fair equipment with great training will end in good results. My question is have you trained your staff or lectured them to death?
Real Training, Please
Liability usually comes up about this time. I had one chief tell me that he had training figured out. If the officers are in the classroom they can not get hurt. If they get hurt, then they will be off work on injury leave. Therefore, he surmised he will not get sued for they are in training. Additionally, they are not getting injured; therefore he will have full staffing on the street.
Wrong! With this type of training officers will become injured - if not on the street then due to insufficient training or from head injuries from banging their heads on the tables from boredom. Training cops is 90% psychomotor skills. Cops are visual learners. So why are we lecturing them into a zombie haze? Second point on liability training: are you offering the real certification training and the most current you can find? No dusting off a decade old lesson plan. You would not ever use an older version or even bootlegged edition software updates would you? No; your staff deserves the best and proper training, recertification, and more than the minimum. Chiefs, do not fall for following the state minimum certification training requirements. Give them what you can afford; seek out local and regional experts. Your safeguard to liability is a well trained officer. Since they are the end user, it is important to have them well tuned in on the matter.
To further defend my analogy, I look at training as the updates we so often get to download. Do we wait for annual virus protection or do we guard our beloved computers and systems with nearly daily updates? Cops are no different. Instead of the basic roll call of who rides this beat, yesterday’s crimes and new scuttlebutt, inject some training tips, kind of like virus protection. Training Units should be sending out tips or training newsletters. You immunize your software, and then immunize your staff. They crave current information to make them more tactical efficient and effective.
A well trained staff is an effective staff; a poorly trained staff is less productive. This is no different than how well you know your office suite or software program and your productivity. Chiefs, sheriffs and trainers, rethink your training needs assessments and invest in your people - not some new gizmo that will be outdated next month. Your cops will be here next month and the month after, just update them is all they ask.