Train to Your Own Best Level

Jan. 4, 2024
What skill level do you want to attain? How much are you willing to do on your down time/dime?

Throughout a 40-year career it was easy to observe officers who trained only to the minimum standard, some of them almost struggling just to attain that, and then others who went a little beyond that when it was convenient or made available. Then there were those officers who aggressively sought out every training opportunity the agency made available and worked to get the assignment. Then, one level higher (in my opinion), there were those officers who pursued training opportunities, even on their own time and their own dime.

It was interesting to watch how they interacted with each other and talked about each other. The officers who struggled to meet the bare minimum levels of required training were, as expected, the least skilled officers on the squad – or department. Being skilled means admitting you don’t have them already, attending training to learn the skills and then spending enough time practicing and doing drills to perfect the skills as much as is possible.

The officers who attended all the mandated training and did well, often practiced a bit on their own and were able to perform without any issues on the street… mostly. The officers who pursued extra training opportunities and practiced those extra learned skills became the more respected and dependable officers on the street. They were the officers who seemed capable of finding solutions to challenging problems.

The funniest thing was how everyone seemed to make fun of the officer(s) who pursued training on their own time, paying all fees and expenses out of their own pocket. Why would any officer do that? Quite often it was dismissed as the “young buck” who was eager to be “Joe Super Cop.” He was sometimes made fun of for his overly motivated outlook and eagerness to be the best.

How much sense does that make? Movies and television shows are made about almost every elite police and military unit in the United States. SWAT units have been the focus on at least two movies and two television series. How many movies have been made about Navy SEALs? How many television shows? People watch those movies and TV shows and admire the commitment and skill levels of those operators.

Why then would fellow officers make fun of those among them who pursue that level of expertise? Well, it’s called envy – at least some of the time. At the end of the day, that doesn’t matter so much but what does is the level of motivation you carry and how much training/expertise you pursue. What type of officer are you comfortable being?

Do you want to be the officer who can just barely meet minimum standards? Do you want to be the officer who meets the standards but doesn’t really try to do much more than that? Do you want to be the officer who exceeds the standards but only if the agency foots the bill? Or do you want to be the officer who pursues the ultimate level of excellence, training beyond any requirement, even when it means giving up your own time and money?

The answer should be obvious, especially when your job performance can literally mean the difference between life and death. Ours is a profession where the smallest lack of performance at a critical time can have steep consequences. For that very reason, it seems like all officers should train to their utmost capability. Ultimately, we all train to our own comfort level; until we are content with our skills.

So… what is that level for you?

About the Author

Lt. Frank Borelli (ret), Editorial Director | Editorial Director

Lt. Frank Borelli is the Editorial Director for the Officer Media Group. Frank brings 20+ years of writing and editing experience in addition to 40 years of law enforcement operations, administration and training experience to the team.

Frank has had numerous books published which are available on,, and other major retail outlets.

If you have any comments or questions, you can contact him via email at [email protected].

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