Trainers: Evolve or Devolve

A seasoned officer can tell in the first thirty seconds whether the trainer is credible or not.

The poor trainers amaze me. They think they can pull the wool over the eyes of the officers who are seated before them, or who they are sharing the firing line with. But a seasoned officer can tell in the first thirty seconds whether the trainer is credible or not. Teaching an adult group of learners is a difficult task. It’s not like teaching kids in school. However, standing in front of a group of hardnosed cops is ten times harder, for they will see through the bs and call you out on it. Veterans don’t like having anyone talk down to them or wasting their time. If you look out over your class and see guys wearing a disgusted expression on their face and sitting with their arms folded across their chest, you may as well show a movie. Nothing you say will resonate with them.

Big time offenders are trainers who talk the talk, but haven’t walked the walk. They are on par with supervisors who haven’t paid their dues on the street, and then want to tell you how to do things. It doesn’t wash with real cops, and trainers who haven’t paid their dues on the job don’t stand a chance of being accepted by their audience, unless it’s a group of green recruits.

The last point about trainers has to do with those who fail to keep up with the latest equipment and techniques. The whole concept of evolving is important, regardless of the discipline you teach. Keeping abreast of the latest shooting techniques, weaponry, ammo and tactics is paramount for a firearms instructor’s continued success. A DT instructor needs to know the latest and best techniques for subduing a non-compliant subject and the best ground fighting moves. Legal instructors need to stay abreast of current local, state and federal decisions that impact a police officer’s arrest authority.

The bottom line is this: if you choose to be a trainer, you must continue to update your knowledge base and teaching techniques. Police work and tactics are ever evolving. What worked ten years ago may not work in today’s environment, either because the bad guys have evolved, the environment has changed, or a law has been overturned. Whatever the reason, a trainer needs to stay informed. Your department and colleagues expect you will know the latest and greatest tactic or technique. Don’t disappoint them. Do your part to get them home at the end of the day.

Stay safe, Brothers and Sisters!


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About The Author:

John M. Wills spent 33 years in law enforcement as a Chicago Police Officer and FBI Special Agent (Ret). He is a Freelance Writer and Speaker whose third book, TARGETED, is now available online at Amazon and Barnes & Noble. Contact John through his website:

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