Police Narrative Perceptions and Training

One of the biggest problems that Law Enforcement faces today is perception of what a Law Enforcement Officer does , how they do it and if they are doing it right. Let’s have some clarification for the citizens and discussions for the Officers.

I have witnessed firsthand Law Enforcement lacing up my boots and hitting the streets like many of you working my way up the ranks and putting on a shirt and tie and even going ‘grunge’ working undercover. I hate to even think about how many years I have been polishing boots but in my own defense I started as a starry eyed cadet watching heroes ‘hit the street’ after roll calls.

Within a few years I was one of them myself but the view changed. My views changed quite a few times and now I sit here expressing to you many things you probably already know to be true enough or you will sooner than later.

A college professor I had once told me that the cycles of Police work and how the citizenry perceive them swing like a pendulum. It goes from one extreme to another and hopefully in your career you will see mostly what falls in the middle.

Unfortunately right now the Blue is facing a terrible swing in the wrong direction and the pendulum must eventually swing back. But many will be caught up in the anti-Police rhetoric in the meantime.

There are quite a few people who are much smarter than I am who are predicting that officers will just stay in their cars, take a little longer to answer calls or not get involved to keep out of harm’s way and let things sort themselves out. Let the public fend for itself.

I have seen this happen before back in the 1990’s after there were a slew of 1980 law suits for punitive damages based upon Officers (in)actions on the streets over a famous case in one state. In the end Officers ended up going back to getting involved and doing what they needed to do to protect the citizenry and they got involved.

It is true some things changed. Training changed to some degree, academies got longer, in service training became the norm. Tactics changed.

Then again, we wagbatoned a war on drugs. The famous shoot out in NORCO happened. Departments learned what Officers already knew, Street cops were out gunned on the street and were no match for criminals that were really determined.

Thus S.W.A.T. was born. Soon, almost every department understood again what all of us on the street knew, it could happen anywhere at any time. Weapons went from six shooters to high capacity weapons. Mostly 9 MM, a poor choice but none the less it was more bullets.

Then Officers were given rifles or shotguns. We went from having a nightstick or flashlight to mace, PR-24’s, blackjacks, sap gloves, to Tasers. Now there are sound cannons.

Yet recently I see more and more disagreements in the public and by the people who govern on what is best for Officers to use for weapons. Naturally they don’t ask Officers themselves in many places what they think is best. If you work for an agency (like I did) what you think works best and why count your blessings.

If you work for an agency that will stand up for you when you put these practices into use never leave!

But if you are like most officers today your main goal of each day is to just get through to the end of the shift and hope that you don’t end up on Youtube. Trust me that is not anyway to get through your career. There is a better way.

For people who think that Officer shootings are not justified I really wish that you would stop judging them based upon social media and what you read in the papers or what is sensationalized for the sake of advertising dollars. Remember many people have an agenda where as most Police officers are out there just trying to do a very difficult job and go home to their families at the end of the day.

Things do happen very quickly and while an incident may happen within seconds on  the street it can take months or years for the courts to settle it. Juries take time, forensic evidence must be examined, witnesses must be interviewed and their statements must be corroborated. Meanwhile media, especially Social media can have an Officer tried and found guilty of something that they were perfectly justified in.

Also, there are no real comparisons to be drawn between the United States and other countries. I recently saw a very foolish video on Youtube demanding that all Police Officers handle people with knives as they do in the United Kingdom. Using pepper spray or with Tasers. The video shows two Officers from the UK stopping a man with a knife using corralling techniques and taking him down using less than lethal Mace and tasers.

The video does not show you another incident where U.K. officers, approximately (20) twenty of them were needed to take a man down who was wielding another bladed instrument and they again corralled him using trash bins. These techniques are not even remotely sound techniques for Police officers nor can they be relied upon to protect members of the public while knife wielding suspects are threatening people.

This video, which I am comfortable showing, though it is frightening, is old. It was shown to me many years ago as part of my training against knives and shows what every officer in the United States probably already knows as the 21 foot rule and why. I am betting that most officers today have seen this video and understand exactly WHY a person with a knife is so dangerous at 21 feet away and why the use of Deadly Physical Force is acceptable in it’s face.

Tasers need good contact and mace does NOT always work on people. If you are being confronted with such a deadly encounter you should be using the best weapon you have to defend yourself that gives you the best chance of survival.

Officers do lace up their boots everyday, put on a shield and go out into the public to serve and protect them. They go in harms way to help others but that does not mean that they willfully, recklessly or carelessly throw their lives away when someone attacks them. They have the right to protect and defend themselves more so than others since they are putting themselves in harms way.

Officers you are constantly being bombarded with training. You selected a career that trains more than anyone except perhaps the medical profession. The profession of Police Officer in the United States certainly gets more scrutiny than the medical profession and it is about to undergo another overhaul.

Training is changing at all levels and there are all kinds of different ideas on what is right, what is wrong, what type of training is best and everybody has an opinion.

Several large Departments are going back to Community Policing including the N.Y.P.D. who it has been said by Officer.com “Looking for Kinder, Gentler Recruits” and Maybe New York City Needs Older Cops for Community Policing as published by CityLimits. On Ohio.com they wrote a piece entitled “Akron officer sees growth on horizon for community policing movement.” Another example is KOMU puts out an article titled “Columbia police push to create connection with community” Lastly, I recently read an article in the Washington Post titled “Creating guardians, calming warriors – A new style of training for police recruits emphasizes techniques to better de-escalate conflict situations”

But is any of this really new? I don’t think so. All of it is different schools of thought based upon what Officers experience through different phases of their careers. Most Officers have developed a ‘sixth sense’ or get ‘gut feelings’ of people that turn out to be pretty accurate. The longer they are on the street and the more people that they deal with the better they get at ‘reading’ people.

It is also true that if you ask almost any officer why they joined the Police Force they will say that they wanted to be able to help people. On some level I believe this to be true. When Officers learn to read people better they are able to better serve people and help them. But it takes time and it takes a great commitment to looking at situations just a bit differently.

I am not sure that every department needs to undergo a massive upheaval in training. Nor do I believe that Officers that are on the streets right now need to do much in the way of doing  things very different than they already are. There are already countless instances of Officers going out everyday doing exactly what they need to do to be highly effective if they know what the next few steps are to take.

To any Officers reading this, I would really like to discuss techniques that worked very well for us through decades of Law Enforcement in every environment you can imagine from very rural areas where there was no back up to inner cities. I am sure your goals are the same as ours was.

Get the job done, make it home, don’t get hurt, don’t get sued, make sure everyone on the squad makes it home. You probably would not like to end up on Youtube either for the wrong reasons at least. I would like to get into these methods with Officers if there is enough interest.

If you are interested I look very forward to hearing from you and any officers you may forward this to. Please simply fill out the form below and I’ll get back to you.  My only goal is that you get the job done and Stay Safe.

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