Posted on Dec. 8, 2022 by Mike Clark

Like it or not, students are evaluating us as instructors. A half-effort on the part of the training cadre will usually result in a half effort on the part of your student officers as well. Often, students look at in-service training like an inconvenience to their regular routine. Recent training accidents have given me pause to consider what we can do to make our training environments safer and more professional for officers. If you are lax about your safety protocols in training your students will be too. Conversely, if you are keeping to strict safety standards your students will recognize your professionalism and perform at higher levels. When students arrive to a training venue, have your safety protocols already well established. Cadre should search each other for contraband in front of the students. After unsafe items have been identified and removed from the venue, the cadre can inspect the student officers. Once everyone has been inspected a thorough walk through of the training environment must be conducted to include any vehicles that me be used.

As instructors it is important to ensure the scenario comes to a logical law enforcement conclusion. Years ago, my agency had a use of force incident where an officer and “bad guy” ended up on the ground as most violent encounters do. Having had an adequate amount of ground defense training our officer had enough talent to get the subject into a bilateral vascular restraint. When the subject realized that the officer had gotten the better of him, he tapped the officer’s forearm just like in a UFC fight. Our officer had trained that way for so long that it was instinctive to him to release the hold and continue with back control until back up officers had arrived. Please do not take that to mean that I condone choking your students out in training. My point in using this example is that realistic logical law enforcement conclusions and calling out of role when the proper technique is applied will prevent catch and slip errors like this from happening in real world scenarios.

Unsafe behaviors must be caught quickly and corrected immediately. In his book “Training at the Speed of Life” Ken Murray talks about how quickly an officer’s training can be called into question when an officer uses a questionable technique or poor judgment in a use of force encounter. If you, as your department’s use of force instructor, fail to correct that behavior, the officer could easily claim that he was not properly trained. As a Firearms and Defensive Tactics Instructor I have encountered students who performed overly aggressively in their training scenario. When the student was called out on his performance he acted as if the instructors were out of touch with the way things happen “in the street.” Remember: as your agency’s instructor you are responsible for ensuring that “company policy” is adhered to for liability reasons. You are your department’s insurance policy. Do your best to ensure that tactics techniques and principles are current, relevant, and applicable to what is going on in the field.