Ken Good's resume is impeccable. A former commando of SEAL Team One, Good has an operational background in demolitions, small unit tactics, parachuting, scuba diving, firearms and other disciplines. Good has trained for and with the military, both in this country and on foreign soil, and has designed many programs for law enforcement.
In June 2002, he cofounded Strategos International, a company that concentrates on providing training to military and law enforcement agencies, with a specialization in reduced-light operations. Good presently consults for the company, both in training and curriculum development.
Good was formerly the director of the SureFire Institute, which specializes in low-light tactical training. A respected authority on light control, Good now heads up Polarian-USA, which has developed some of the most innovative searchlights deployed today.
Good says his interest in managing light in combat and special operations was first piqued when he was at fleet training in San Diego with the U.S. Navy and found himself in the dark — literally. The watertight ships provided a pitch-black training platform. The utter blackness prompted Good to think about light — and the lack of it — in new ways.
Law Enforcement Technology took advantage of a few of Good's minutes of downtime — which are rare — and asked his opinion on some key law enforcement light-control training issues. Here's what he had to say.
LET: When I hear the phrase "light control" in relation to law enforcement, the first thing that comes to mind is an officer with a flashlight and a gun. You say it's a whole lot more. Could you explain?
Good: I would say 10 years ago, even 15 years ago, the prime directive for using a light was to identify what you had in front of you, and that hasn't changed. Most of your information comes through the portal of your eyes. Until you can't see or you don't have a light, you don't really appreciate how important that tool is. But because of the nature of the use of light, we tend to look at light or use of a light as, "What can I see?" In other words, it's only from one angle or one side of the coin: What do I see. However, if you step back for a second and say, "What does he or she see when I energize this tool?" it becomes a potential target indicator for you, as well as a distraction or a tool that you're actually using to put yourself in a more dangerous position than if you didn't use it at all.
LET: So you need to think about light in more than one way?
Good: Absolutely. You must learn to use light as a tool to paint a false picture or to overwhelm [your opponent's] senses, rather than let them have good, clean information about what you're doing and why you're doing it, your timing and all the things you can't put on a square range. Timing is one of those things you can't really simulate well on a square range. We boil it down to interrupting their OODA Cycle. The key thing is when you have a potential threat in front of you, you need to do everything you can to disorient them, so you can press your plan. And it turns out when you have a bright light and use it correctly, i.e., if you're in a threatened situation and you can temporarily disorient the threat, you have a much greater probability of moving through the situation and coming out in the prevailing position. The next logical step is, "How do I use this to put myself in a better situation?"
LET: We'll bite: How do you answer that question?
Good: The analogy I use for police officers is a vehicle stop, something that they can relate to immediately. Why does everything you have in terms of illumination end up flooding into that vehicle? And when you answer that question, you answer the question as to why I would want to do that with my handheld or why would I want to do that with my weapon-mounted light, as well. You want to control what that person [in the vehicle] observes. If it's nothing but white light or nothing but dark, that's a whole lot better than letting them get a good clear picture or perception of what's going on. That's the art — and some people don't like that word and that's OK — of fighting with a light. Sometimes it's appropriate to turn on your light, sometimes it's not.