Just as a thought experiment, and for the sake of this post alone, momentarily accept the following statements (about DT training) as true:
The majority of Police Officers see their Defensive Tactics training as “a joke”.
Most DT Instructors experience an overall sense of frustration regarding the roll-out of their curriculum.
A large percentage of Training Supervisors are despondent about their options IN, and expectations FROM Hand-to-Hand training.
Many Chiefs of Police have budgets that are so underfunded that implementing the options they truly want are simply unrealistic.
As I travel across the country and ask for feedback, the above phrases are by far the most common ones I hear .
However, when I push for a little more information, the deeper and more meaningful versions of the above sound something like this:
(Please pay attention to your overall empathy for the PEOPLE below versus the STATEMENTS above.)
“At best, I am ambivalent about attending our In-Service training.
There are far too many attributes that we try to cover. And there isn’t enough time to get acclimated to the techniques in such a way where I believe I’ll be able to apply it in real time in the street.
I dread our annual training and feel like it is mostly a waste of time. Sometimes it seems like we are just going through the motions. Honestly? I’d just rather be somewhere else.”
“I feel frustrated because most of the certification courses (I attend) include too many techniques. Many of them I can’t quite remember how to apply after the course is over.
To make matters worse, I’m given an extremely limited amount of time with each group of officers. There’s almost no way I can deliver skill sets in a way that is meaningful.
Even if I did have the time, now the responsibility of delivering our legal updates has been thrown onto my plate. People don’t understand just how much that eats away from hands-on training and drills.
Last but not least, officer motivation about DT training is low. Their past experiences have soured their perspective. I have a mountain to climb just to get their attention.
Overall I feel very dissatisfied with how things are, and wish I could think of another way in which it would all make sense. But under these conditions, I’m not sure what other options there really are.”
“I try to do my research and find the best Train-the-Trainer courses for my people. But the funding has dried up, and I never know what to believe from a website anymore.
Training vendors seem to promise the world and then under deliver. I’m not even certain what metrics I’m supposed to be using to evaluate them.
Making things even tougher are all of the negative feedback I receive from officers after annual training. This makes it difficult for me to ask the Chief to justify more money for new training. I mean, why would he?
I really want to support my Instructors. But sometimes I just feel stuck between a rock and a hard place.”
“I would love to find a way to provide my people with the best training possible. But it’s never quite that simple.
The last few times we implemented training we had (x number) of training related injuries. Those are troublesome in and of themselves.
But now I have to reallocate resources, resources that are scarce to begin with, as I try to back-fill the shifts left open by the injured officers.
People don’t always realize that money for training has to come from somewhere. And the rest of my budget is already tighter than it’s ever been.
Sometimes I feel like the best option, as long as we don’t have any injuries in the street, is to keep training protocols at current levels, ask the team to do the best with what they have, and hope funding will be better next year.
But then again, even if funding were better, what promises do I have that more training won’t create more injuries? It just seems like a catch-22.”
All of this probably sounds at least a little familiar. And if so, it paints a pretty bleak picture.
But let’s not settle for less quite yet. Part 2 of this post will be released soon. We’ll let you know when.