The Ethical Warrior: More than just the right ingredients
Ethics, tactics, and techniques, when all are taught together in a martial arts training setting, can have a lasting positive impact on your troops
Take water, hops, yeast, and malt. Stir it together in a glass. What you get is...
Well, it’s not beer.
Creating Ethical Warriors or Ethical Police Officers is not the same as brewing beer, obviously. Yet, it could be said that, although many departments provide a fairly robust training curriculum — all of the ingredients — it is not easy to “brew” a great officer.
The Ingredients of Protector Training
Basic law enforcement training necessarily focuses on the myriad technical aspects of the job. All of the tools along the conflict resolution spectrum are taught from verbal communication to the use of firearms. Tactical training is introduced after a solid foundation of basic skills is established. Ethical training, which is usually weighted toward legal issues, is typically taught in an academic setting. One learns to shoot on the range, move tactically in a shoot-house, and behave ethically in a classroom. The time devoted to each of these areas follows the same order. The most time is devoted to technical training, less to individual and group tactics, and less still to ethics. This approach tends to reinforce a paradigm that resolves conflict by selecting a technique, adjusting the technique based on tactical considerations, and finally deciding whether the technique is legally permissible.
Many people agree that, under the stress of conflict, one falls back on their training rather than rising to the occasion. It is here where the time and focus on technical training becomes the predominant reference for reaction to conflict. Disaster can occur if the officer fails to also make the tactical and ethical decisions necessary for the protection of self and others. This disconnect between ethics, tactics, and techniques can cause problems at all levels of activity, from a car stop to a major operation.
Ethics Drives Tactics — Tactics Drive Techniques
Faced with these critical circumstances, those in charge chose to employ an established military technique in a law enforcement situation resulting in the most famous, and perhaps only, use of aerial bombardment in American law enforcement history. Four pounds of high explosives were dropped from a helicopter onto the roof of the house. The intention was to breach the barricaded roof in order to introduce tear gas into the building — the resulting fire caused the death of eleven people and destroyed sixty-five homes.
The political, legal, and personal ramifications of this action reverberated for years. But for our purposes, the key point is that techniques and tactics were employed that were in direct conflict with the ethic of the law enforcement warrior: protect your life and the life of others, all others, even the adversary if possible. The need to break a dangerous stalemate caused leaders to choose a technique with consequences that were not protective of life. The technique drove the tactics which led to the ethical failure.
An alternative model is to approach conflicts from the perspective of the Ethical Warrior. A firm understanding of the Universal Life Value will lead to choosing appropriate tactics to ensure the protection of self and others, and finally to the employment of the most effective techniques. This model also requires a shift in training philosophy. To the greatest extent possible, ethics must be taught during tactical and technical training. This provides an integrated understanding of moral values in action, which is the definition of ethics.
So, how would the training look? Well, it might look quite different from the way it is usually conducted today. In the Marine Corps Martial Arts Program (MCMAP — from which the Ethical Warrior concept was derived) the program is designed as a synergistic program consisting of three main elements:
Notably, the Ethical Warrior Training is considered to be the core of the Program.
The Activating Ingredient
Martial skills training enhances officer survivability and, when conducted safely and properly, is an excellent conditioning regimen. Most importantly, however, it is a sure-fire way to build camaraderie — as anyone who has shared the bonding feeling of shared adversity can attest to. It is the activating ingredient! It can also be one of the greatest time-savers and force-multipliers at the disposal of a creative leader. The reason is that the bonding that follows the physical training creates the perfect atmosphere for candid discussions of essential subjects, annual training requirements, values-tie-ins, and other important topics such as officer safety, alcohol abuse, sexual harassment, “burn out,” etc. Why waste time moving people to a classroom? Hit them while they are open-minded and energized. It just works better.
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