There are police officers and deputies who live in an employment vacuum. They come to work and go home totally oblivious to the world around them and occurring events. I knew a guy (as we all do) who said if the department wanted me to know about anything they will read it in roll call. Interesting concept but we need to pay attention for our own tactical awareness if nothing else. To me this is much akin to an ostrich’s defense mechanism of burying their heads in the sand. Funny as it is, nobody ever interviewed an ostrich who was suffering from butt wounds. So why stick your butt out in the wind or for someone to take a bite of?
Let’s test the theory of if they want me to know they will tell me ideals. First of all, your departmental policy should set forth equipment (you will carry this and that), safety (ballistic vests and seat belts) and dress codes. I am sure that you have policy and procedures to cover most of the how to’s and what to do’s. However, the nice sergeant at roll call does not tell you it is cold outside to wear your coat nor you should carry your raincoat for it looks like showers. So, this ostrich methodology is somewhat flawed.
This applies to training as well. Every state and department has its recommended annual updates or in-service training. It varies from state to state anywhere from couple of days and up. This ‘mandatory training’ is ever enough training for your needs, sometimes not applicable to your position and all too often mundane at best. It is my belief based on personal observations and reliable statements from trusted trainers, the mandated ideals of most state commissions should be reviewed and revamped. Back to mandated training, I have seen far too many officers who feel that this is enough training for that is all that is required to maintain their certification. For some to even request training beyond this is unheard of. The old adage of ‘if they (department) want me to attend this, then they will send me’, it is as if volunteering to expand your knowledge base is like a dangerous detail. In my eyes, if one can improve their knowledge base to allow them to perform smarter, safer and more efficient, then go for it. But again there are some and it is their right to make their personal decisions, just you live with them. If there are occasions for your self-improvement, always seize the opportunity.
Another side of this is the officer who does not live in his/her jurisdiction, they commute in and out. Most all take an interest in what is occurring in their work area, but alas there are some who do not. They only come to work for work and lock out the rest of what happens at work. They do not pay attention to the paper, the media or even a bill board. If they want me to know what is going on they will tell me was the reply given to me. Again, this cop is within their rights but I feel that they are shortchanging themselves somewhat. Now most of us would shutter thinking of living and working like this for it creates a street-level disadvantage. They want to gain every tactical advantage and that included current events which created tactical intel to better respond to job. We, as cops love to know the home field advantages on our beats anytime we can gain it. Now, I am not to even suggest that we immerse ourselves in the job. We all need some decompression time and off-duty fresh air to breathe. However, knowing of special events, evolving traffic changes or new construction gives you a leg up over the lost tourist if nothing else, if not even to get a better parking place or quicker commute.
Don’t lock out all training as part of the job only, it often can assist on other fronts. Many times some of the subject matter of the vocation transcends into our personal lives. Something as simple as first aid can make a difference in saving the life or easing the pain of a loved one. The more we incorporate training that makes the officer’s life better (more so than just one the job) makes for a pretty good day. Personal safety at home and off-duty for the officer but also the family unit is beyond the training vacuum. Make your staff the true professionals that they are capable of achieving. Give them training to serve them both on and off-duty.
Not trying to be the old jaded curmudgeon that I am but this is a profession! Professionals seek out opportunities to excel at what they do. Professionals train to be the best they can be for themselves and their colleagues. If you want to live in a vacuum, then it is your right. However being within the bubble you are not affording yourself to self-development, improving your efficiency and becoming the best officer to assist your brother and sister officers during the toils of the job. I would not consider trusting my life to a doctor who has not read, attended seminars or attending updates since they left medical school. Professionals do deliberate things; training and preparation for the rigors of the vocation are part of this. Train hard and train smart!