Much has been made lately regarding the psychological prowess of today’s law enforcement professionals. To put it simply, many training programs have begun to focus on the winning attitude and mindset needed to prevail during violent encounters.
There could be no better topic of conversation.
For visual learners — me included — the most recent example of this psychological prowess is Lt. Brian Murphy of Oak Creek, Wisconsin. On August 5th of this year, I am fairly confident in assuming Lt. Murphy’s day started like many others, but not knowing he would soon stand toe to toe with evil does not mean he was not prepared for it.
Sharpening the Warrior’s Edge
Bruce Siddle wrote in Sharpening the Warrior’s Edge:
“Unlike other motor skill training, survival skills will be performed in the stress of combat. Ingraining winning mindset methodology into each training evolution is paramount in saving the lives of future heroes.”
Let’s take a quick look back in order to see where we have come and contemplate how much farther we need to go.
Think back to your initial training, be it military, law enforcement, or both. At any time during force-on-force or reality-based training programs, were you told ‘you’re dead’ or ‘you’re out’ or ‘we have to write a letter home’ or anything like that?
This is a very detrimental training style, and may implant a thought process that implies if the officer or service member takes a hit, his fight is over. Imagine the potential outcome for Lt. Murphy had this been his mindset while taking round after round.
In no way does this minimize or detract from the importance of physical skills training and multiple repetitions. Engaging and developing mindset skills are easily included in most, if not all training opportunities.
In physical skills evolutions such as firearms and defensive tactics, simply conducting a structured debrief of the student’s actions and providing constructive input when required not only allows the instructor to gain insight into the thought process of the participant, but gives the recipient the opportunity to reflect on their own perceptions and mindset as well.
Immediate, Decisive Action
For those who have had the opportunity to view the most recent video released by Oak Creek Police Department, it clearly shows the arrival of Lt. Murphy and the immediate, decisive action he took upon realizing the threat he faced. This winning, take-the-fight-to-the-bad-guys attitude should serve as an inspiration to all who wear the guardian’s uniform.
I would argue that the warrior mentality Brian demonstrated while under extreme stress is the product of a winner’s personality that has been sharpened and refined through years of quality training and experiences.
We can always learn from others experiences, be they positive or negative. While sad to admit, incidents such as what occurred in Oak Creek are here to stay. Regrettably, six innocents lost their lives to the hands of predator.
Absent Lt. Murphy’s actions, the death toll would undoubtedly have been much higher.
What Good Looks Like
As a trainer, I always strive to demonstrate the skills to be learned, and in essence, show what good looks like. This technique has worked well in that the participants now have a mental image of what they should strive to accomplish.
This also serves to stow away a ‘snapshot’ to be recalled later when faced with similar circumstances.
While responding to the tragedy taking place at the Sikh Temple on August 5th 2012, Lt. Murphy acted on his training, demonstrated a winning mindset, and showed what good looks like.
Great job, sir.