Why police departments must acknowledge gender differences in training
If your department’s training staff is not at least acknowledging gender differences, they are doing a huge disservice to their officers
I had the opportunity to attend LouKa Tactical Training’s Building Warrior Women class. It was the most unique, and some of the best training, I have attended. And yet, I walked away feeling cheated. I did not feel cheated by the folks at Louka Tactical. The training staff was top notch, and the material they presented was of the highest quality. I felt cheated by the host agency because they were only willing to host a two-day class. LouKa Tactical pared the class down to a morning of lecture, an afternoon of buddy and self-rescue, and a full day on the range for handgun training. Having to shorten a class that has enough material to easily fill a week meant the women at LouKa Tactical Training really had their work cut out for them.
As a female firearms instructor, it can probably go without saying that I spend the vast majority of my time on the range in the company of men. And, I admit that I have never really given much thought to the challenges of other women. It was an eye-opening and perspective-changing experience to say the least. I got the most out of the lectures on the sociology of women in society and specifically in law enforcement. Listening to the instructor’s insights from their years of experience and social science research, while watching heads nodding in agreement from everyone in the room, was enlightening. Women have come a long way since the days of the suffrage movement, but as any woman working in a career dominated by men can attest, they have experienced a completely different career experience than their male colleagues from day one. Just knowing that other women have faced the same obstacles, challenges and attitudes instantly created a safe and cohesive learning environment. I have never seen female law enforcement officers so excited about training.
This is information from which all trainers would greatly benefit. The genders are different. Each has its own set of strengths and weaknesses. If your department’s training staff is not at least acknowledging those differences, they are doing a huge disservice to their officers.
Buddy and self-rescue
I was encouraged to see how this group of women found ways to overcome the size and strength challenges they faced during the down and injured officers portion of training. These are gender differences that should and must be embraced by trainers. A department may set a standard for a dead weight carry that every male may easily manage with brute strength, while their female counterparts may need to rely on technique to complete the same task.
Additionally, has anyone in your department thought about teaching similar techniques to male officers? We don’t know when an injured officer, not operating at full strength, may need to affect a rescue.
The range is where I really witnessed the difference between genders. When it comes to firearms training, most every male officer I have encountered is more than eager to start putting lead downrange. They go in guns blazing, so to speak. They just can’t get enough. Shooting is one of the areas where women have the physical ability to really excel. Yet, I witnessed a distinct lack of enthusiasm and even some hesitation to go out and train. Even in this environment, the most non-judgmental and inclusive training environment these ladies had probably ever trained in, several were unwilling to go out there and risk failure. That is a training scar of the highest order.
Our skills cannot improve unless pushed beyond their limits, therefore it is imperative that we have a time and place in which to fail. Some of these officers had such horrible experiences during range training in the past, that their willingness to put their self-esteem at risk was hindering their ability to effectively train. By the middle of the day, much of that anxiety had melted away and they were open to receiving the high-quality training they had been yearning. My hope is this positive experience on the range will help them develop the courage to train hard, risk and overcome that failure, and become the shooters I know they can be.
The good folks at LouKa Tactical Training are filling a niche that has gone ignored by officers, trainers and command staff for far too long. If you are a female law enforcement officer, a trainer of female law enforcement officers or a supervisor of female law enforcement officers, then you need to look into attending or hosting the LouKa Tactical Training Building Warrior Women class. You, your agency and your community will be better for it.