IACP 2011: The value of boss-involved survival training

What chief, sheriff, or captain, driving to a cross town meeting, would not stop to assist one of their officers struggling with a suspect at a traffic stop?

Have you ever held the blue bag for your chief, while he was delivering full power kicks or had a captain step forward to volunteer to take the first hit in TASER training? Have you ever been on the range next to your sheriff as the two of you fired a survival course, and afterwards, gazing at the sheriff’s target thought, “Nice group.”

If you answered yes to any of these questions, you have experienced “Boss Involved Survival Training.”

Here are some of the many benefits of bosses getting physically involved alongside officers at survival training.

Training Verification
When supervisors attend training with line officers they can determine (first hand) that what is being trained to their personnel is being delivered to specifications. They can determine that the trainers are the quality trainers who you want your officers to be trained by, and also that what is being trained is practical and legally defensible.

Tactical Awareness
Bosses who attend training will have a sense of what their officers are capable of tactically. They will also acquire the ability to know how to perform tactical skills as well as when to apply levels of force. Supervisors, who train with their officers, are less likely to rush to judgment in the case of an officer, who has merely applied on the street what he or she has learned in training.

These supervisors are able to give a much more confident and informed press conference following a justifiable use of force by one of their officers.

Team Building
Officers are not just subordinates — they are teammates who share the same mission. They are the front line of the department that serves the public, while theoretically supervisors are there to serve and assist the street officer.

Supervisors can better serve their personnel, when they know them. Commanders who engage in training with officers will discover it is an excellent opportunity to interact in a very positive manner with line personnel.

After all, they are teammates with a shared mission.

Reinforces the Importance of Training
Actively-involved bosses will come to understand that training officers to survive on the street is an imperative. When budget cuts create the need for difficult decisions they may have a tendency to look to cut elsewhere.

When a boss decides to attend survival training it also sends a powerful message to the officers in their command. It reinforces the notion that survival training is important for every cop on the street. Bosses can even set a standard for performance as well as enthusiasm to emulate.

There is Still a Need to Personally Train
Supervisors, who stop training once achieving rank, in most cases were once young coppers, who at some point in their career looked with disdain on their own supervisors, who did that very thing. Most can recall a time when they said, “That will never be me.”

No matter what position a manager occupies in an agency, they still carry a weapon and a badge. There are certain law enforcement skills that all officers should maintain throughout their career. What chief, sheriff, or captain, driving to a cross town meeting, would not stop to assist one of their officers struggling with a suspect at a traffic stop? What percentage of chiefs, sheriffs or captains, would be drawn to the area of a hot call, when they find themselves close?

On January 5, 2011 Chief Ralph Painter of the Rainier Police Department in Oregon was the first officer to arrive at the scene of a suspect entering a car that was not his own. Once Chief Painter located the suspect a desperate struggle ensued. During the struggle the suspect was able to gain control of the 20-year veteran’s weapon and shot and killed the 55-year-old father of seven. The suspect was later wounded in a gunfight with other responding officers and was apprehended.

It is important for those just promoted to never yield to the temptation to avoid survival training, just because you have the authority to do so. The change of responsibility may appear to remove you from the dangers of the street, but fate, necessity and the heart of a cop will draw you back to it eventually.

Survival skills are perishable skills and need to be maintained regardless of rank or position. The famous coach John Wooden had this to say, “Failure to prepare is preparing to fail.”

Boss involved training not only prepares the boss for their own survival, it inspires street officers to prepare for their own.

If you take the time to read the honor roll of those that have fallen, you will discover neither courage nor rank has ever shielded the brave. It doesn’t matter if you wear stripes, stars, or bars... as long as you wear a badge and carry a weapon, join your fellow officers and prepare!

About the author

Lt. Dan Marcou retired as a highly decorated police lieutenant and SWAT Commander with 33 years of full time law enforcement experience. He is a nationally recognized police trainer in many police disciplines and is a Master Trainer in the State of Wisconsin. He has authored three novels The Calling: The Making of a Veteran Cop , S.W.A.T. Blue Knights in Black Armor, and Nobody's Heroes are all available at Barnes and Noble and Amazon.com. Visit his website and contact Dan Marcou

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