Instruction with in-car video: Putting it into practice


Last week we looked at some of the possible pitfalls of using video for law enforcement instruction, as well as some of the benefits. So what does this type of training look like and how can you accomplish it?

As instructors, we are in a time where information and technology can make your job easier and more difficult. It is easy in the fact that information is everywhere but it can be difficult because your students expect even more because of this fact. For many years I was guilty of sometimes using video just to “fill the gap.”

I had to teach for an hour but I only had 40 minutes of material so what is a rookie instructor to do? You guessed it, get the video library out and stretch that class but this was unfair to the students and lazy on my part. Let me encourage you to spend the time to develop your class in a dynamic way and video is an excellent way to do this. I have given you just one example below but let me persuade you to take your presentations to the next level. The information you give to others could not only be life saving but it will outlast your career and live on to the next generation of real superheroes.

Embedded below is a typical video that might be used in a class where I would have already discussed the importance of a driver being familiar with their environment and what goes into the evaluation of driving in an emergency response mode.

Know the Goal
As an instructor, I want the students to come away from this video knowing that when their environment such as traffic and roadways change, their behavior such as speed must also change. They should also come away from the video with the knowledge that we cannot rely on sirens and that driving in an emergency mode is a privilege and not a right. With my goals in mind, I will play the video and discuss the following information before, during and after it plays.

Legal Considerations
There are not any concerns with using this video. The video is over a decade old; there is nothing legally pending and the officer volunteered this video. He encouraged its use in all avenues of training and he no longer works at the agency the video was taken. While I will keep the officer’s identity anonymous, he has helped greatly by being so willing to let this video play in departments across America.

Check out the Video

Remember Context
This video was given to me by an officer but he gave it to me thinking he did a very good job. While there are portions of this video that he did do an excellent job, I found parts of it very disturbing. I found it disturbing because I know for a fact I have done this very thing and some of you have done this very thing. This officer had just been to one of my driving courses. It was a course that I stressed the importance of evasive maneuvers so collisions can be avoided. In fact, the entire class was a series of evasive, highly technical maneuvers. What you will see about 1:12 into this video is the outcome of that training day. It is an outcome that I doubt would have happened unless that training was given just a few weeks before this event. It reiterates the importance of training but it also tells me I was wrong as an instructor that day.

Yes, learning evasive maneuvers are important but is it not equally if not more important to avoid having to use these evasive maneuvers? I believed I failed this particular officer and I don’t want to fail you. There are things you can do right now to be safer behind the wheel.”

Telling the Story
“This officer is responding with lights and siren to an officer in need. An officer is chasing a suspect on foot and this officer is absolutely in the right to use his emergency equipment to get there as quickly as possible but we have to remember something even more important than that. He has to arrive as safely as possible.

“As you see this, the initial response is appropriate. What do you see here in the first 30 seconds?

It is 0114 hours so we would expect very little traffic out which is exactly what we initially see. That is why I believe his response, although fast, is initially appropriate here. There is very little traffic. It is not an area where you would see a lot of traffic this time of night but something changes at about the 30 second mark. What is that change?

The officer sees lights and an intersection. He clearly is seeing more traffic and this as a driver should be an indicator that our behavior may have to change. Why is that?

With additional traffic, intersections and businesses comes a host of issues that should concern us. The speed of our response will have to change. Even though it is late we have to know our environment. The officer is now entering into a business district with businesses that are open this time of night. What kind of behavior do you see from the officer?

It is hard to tell but his speeds are fast. In fact they are similar to the speed he was travelling when there was not any traffic. Clearly the environment has changed. What changes in the environment do you see?

Should these changes in the environment impact our decision making in regards to how we drive? What do you see right now that the officer should do?

At 1:08 in the video, the officer observes a car pull out of a business drive. What does this tell you? Does it possibly tell you that your sirens are not being seen or heard? Remember at high speeds, the audibility of your siren is useless. Remember, citizens do not expect to see you coming so many times while they should see you, they don’t. Knowing these things, what should we do as a driver of an emergency vehicle?

This officer did not slow down and adapt to the change in environment and he definitely did not take the warning when the first car pulled out in front of him. It should be of no surprise to him or you of what is about to happen at minute 1:12 in this video.

Now let’s give the officer some recognition here. He did a remarkable job of avoiding what surely would have been a horrific collision. In short, he did what he learned just a few weeks earlier but would it not of made sense to do some things to keep that event from happening?

What could have been done to avoid having to make that evasive maneuver? Quite frankly, that is a risk I would rather us not take. Please remember that when our environment changes, our behavior must change.

About the author

Major Travis Yates is a Commander with the Tulsa (OK) Police Department. His Seminars in Risk Management & Officer Safety have been taught across the United States & Canada. Major Yates has a Master of Science Degree in Criminal Justice and is a graduate of the FBI National Academy. He is the Director of Training for SAFETAC Training and the Director of Ten-Four Ministries, dedicated to providing practical and spiritual support to the law enforcement community.

Contact Travis Yates

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