2011 in Review: The #1 thing I learned this year
I’m recommitting myself to getting as much high-quality training as possible so I can become an even more effective partner to American police officers
For my 2010 year-end column I presented a series of 25 foundational principles I’d tucked away in the back of my brain as 2010 unfolded. Beginning the spring of that year I just jotted things down and eventually by fall I’d collected about 40 potential items from which I could create my column. I chose to do 25 things somewhat arbitrarily — 25 is a nice number — and in the end I came up with a pretty good list of tidbits and tactical tips which had appeared on PoliceOne at one time or another during 2010. This year, I did things a little differently. Actually, in 2011 I did things a lot differently.
I would estimate that in the calendar year 2011 I logged about 240 hours of law enforcement training. All tolled up, from seminars to semester-long classes to group range training to private, one-on-one instruction in combatives, I’ve done something in the area of six full 40-hour-per-week work weeks of training. About a third of it was done “on the company” but the other two thirds was “on my own time and my own dime.” Much of that was in nighttime events after a full day of work, or on weekends when my family was left wishing I was present (at least I think they wished I was present!). Why, pray tell, would I subject myself to such grueling schedule of training? Because as I entered 2011 there were two of those foundational principles from 2010 I knew would make me better at my job.
• I will get top-notch tactical training whether or not my agency pays for it
• I will not be afraid to lose a little blood in training, lest I lose it all in real world
Love is a Driving Force
Next to my family, there is probably nothing else in this world I love more than to help cops be safer and more successful on the street. The trouble is, as a wise man once told me, “Never love anything that can’t love you back.” But there’s an important distinction between “the job” and “the work” and I’ve come to realize that it’s not “the job” I love — it’s the men and women for whom I work. Sure, I work for PoliceOne, and I get a paycheck from PoliceOne, but to a very real extent, I also work for you, PoliceOne Members and all American law enforcers. It just so happens that the conduit through which I do my work is PoliceOne. Perhaps that sounds convoluted to you, but not to me. So for me, calling my work here at PoliceOne “a labor of love” truly is an accurate statement.
So. In order to be better at the work I love, I’m all but duty-bound to train, train, train!
During 2011 I’ve had the pleasure of working with some of the most elite police trainers in the United States. I’ve been in dozens and dozens of in-service classroom venues. During an active shooter course I was a role player in the roles of bad guy, hostage, witness, and dead guy. In another active shooter course I ran with the team in the stack to solve the problem. I’ve attended numerous daylong SWAT incident debriefs. I participated in a local Citizens Academy. I did a daylong course on Red Teaming. I’ve taken the equivalent of a weeklong live-fire firearms course. I attended for the second time the Street Survival Seminar.
Looking Ahead to 2012
What did I learn through all this? Well, more than I can cram into this one column, that’s for sure! The lessons learned throughout my 2011 training campaign have bled into my many columns and tips. But the one lesson that serves as the common threat throughout is that the most valuable investment we can make in ourselves as professionals is our training. And I plan to continue to make a significant investment in this area in the coming year.
As I’ve previously written, on my dance card for early 2012 is a two-day Force Science Institute seminar presented by some friends of mine at San Francisco Police Department Training Academy, followed by two days on the range with my friend and PoliceOne colleague Ken Hardesty. Regular readers will recall that Ken runs Spartan Concepts and Consulting in addition to his full-time job at a major police agency in the San Francisco Bay Area. I’ll attend a daylong ‘Intermediate Carbine’ class to work on the building blocks I’ve established over the years, paying particular attention to increasing speed and aggression while engaging multiple adversaries. Then, the very next day in ‘Carbine II’ Ken has promised to “push the comfort level” a little bit.
I close out my weeklong training with another classroom event I have promised the organizers I’d keep quiet about here in this public venue. I’ll merely say that it will be as intellectually challenging as any classroom course I’ve ever done, so I’m already studying for it.
In February 2012, I’ll attend the first-ever Southeast Regional Warrior Symposium, presented by SARK Securities. My friend (and occasional PoliceOne Contributor) Chris Ghannam is Chief Technology Officer and Training Coordinator for SARK, and in advance of that upcoming training venue, I caught up with him via phone. You can read more about that conversation here, but suffice it to say, I’m as amped up about the tremendous training seminar they’ve put together as I am to meet Billy Waugh in person.
In recent months I have been in email contact with Dave Mather, Executive Director of NLECTC Small, Rural, Tribal & Border Regional Center. I first met Mather at IACP and we’ve been in contact via email during recent weeks. My hope (and intention) is to also get out to train with those guys, perhaps sometimes in March.
Then, soon enough, it’ll be April, and that means it’ll be ILEETA in Chicagoland.
Thereafter, we’re off to the races. Perhaps I’ll get to do some work with Kyle Lamb at Viking Tactics? Perhaps I’ll get to do some work with Jeff Patane at Alpha Dog Tactical? Perhaps I’ll be someplace near your PD during the year and can sit in on your in-service training? There’s also an interesting Criminal Justice course at San Francisco State I’ve been eyeballing for a while. Hell, perhaps I’ll even finally attend those PhotoShop and Search Engine Optimization courses at Media Bistro I’ve been meaning to take!
Bottom Line: Just Do It!
The point is that as I enter 2012, I’m recommitting myself to getting as much high-quality training as I can cram into my calendar. In so doing, it’s my hope to become a more effective editor for PoliceOne, and a more effective partner to police officers across this great nation.
Training is humbling — doubly-so when you train next to men and women who are far more capable than yourself. This is the case for me about 99 percent of the time, so I’ve learned to let go of my ego and simply absorb everything I can. Looking left and right down the line, I see tighter groups. Looking at test scores I see mine among the merely “average.” But coming in “first” in training is a bonus. Coming in “first” in the real world is where it counts. The cops with whom I generally get to train are not the ones who need the training. Those guys and gals are elsewhere while the best of the best are beside me, coaching me, and assuring me that our most elite officers are truly top-notch warriors about whom we can all be proud.
A very good friend of mine out there in the law enforcement community recently said something to me which merits inclusion here. He said “the amazingly positive impact P1 has on the police community” is largely “due to you and your willingness to come out and ‘get dirty’.”
I'm honored to get that dirty, to get that worn out, to get that bruised... to get that education you can only get by doing. That old Nike slogan rings in my ears... If you know of a course you think would benefit PoliceOne members by having me in attendance, please just add your comments below or send me an email.
Happy New Year my brothers and sisters. Stay safe out there.