The Confident Female Crimefighter, Part One

I once read that “confidence is learned, not inherited.” I believe that to be true. How confident are you? What kind of impression do you make when you walk into a training class, into the roll call room, into a domestic dispute?

Regaining Your Confidence in Your Competence

Whether you have 2 years or 20 years on the job, it’s never too late to take control of your own skills and abilities to increase your confidence.  As we teach in the “Street Survival” seminar, “Competence Builds Confidence.”  If you have a handgun that doesn’t fit, approach your range master or administration about getting a different one.  You may experience resistance at first; after all, law enforcement is very much a “that-the-way-we’ve-always-done-it” profession. Before you approach anyone, do your research; find out what’s out there that will fit your hand and still provide the firepower similar to your current duty handgun.  Then use what Dave ‘JD Buck Savage’ Smith calls “The Power of Positive Annoyance.”  Find out the costs involved (not only for the handgun and ammo, but for new leather gear, training, and maintenance) and find a few area departments who use that handgun successfully and ask for a copy of their policy.  Document in a positive light why this handgun should be adopted for use by your department; IE: it will make you and other small handed officers safer and better able to win gunfights.  Be prepared to have to purchase it with your own money (after all, what is your survival worth?).  It took me nearly a decade to get a duty gun that fit my hand, and another decade to get one that I really loved, but what really helped me see myself as a “gunfighter” was attending an all female pistol class put on by one of the only woman-owned police training companies in the country.  Being in that socially safe environment (provided by LouKa Tactical Training) put the icing on the cake of my confidence on the range.

The same goes for your subject control skills.  If you lack confidence in this area, first assess yourself.  Do you need to get into better shape, lose or gain a little weight?  Would a martial arts or a boxing class help?  Do you need some one-on-one work on your handcuffing skills?  Figure out what you need and then seek it out.  Don’t rely solely on your less lethal tools like TASER or OC, you need to be able to depend on yourself, and so do your fellow crimefighters.  If your department doesn’t provide the kind of training you’re looking for, get it on your own.  Again, you have to decide what your own safety and survival is worth.  Is it worth a week of your vacation time and a few hundred dollars to build your confidence back up?  I believe strongly that it is, and the more personally you are invested in your skills, the harder you’ll train, the better you’ll become and the more confident you’ll be.    

“Confidence” is also one of the many traits of a good leader.  Next month I’ll take about being confident in yourself not just physically but administratively.  Until then, stay safe!


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About The Author:

Sgt. Betsy Brantner Smith is a 29-year veteran of a large suburban Chicago police department. Recently retired as a patrol supervisor, she has held positions in patrol, investigations, narcotics, juvenile, crime prevention and field training. As a sergeant, she supervised her department's K-9 Unit, served as a field training sergeant, recruitment team sergeant, bike patrol coordinator, the Crowd Control Bike Team supervisor, and supervisor of the Community Education/Crime Prevention Unit.

As a patrol sergeant, Betsy served on the Elderly Services Team, the Crisis Intervention Team, and was a supervisory member of the Honor Guard Unit. From 1999 - 2003 Betsy hosted various programs for the Law Enforcement Television Network and served as a content expert.

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