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Police training: Putting it together and making it real

The question of how to better integrate EVOC, DT, PT, firearms, and other training elements is an old one, but it also hasn’t yet been adequately answered

How many times have you seen scenario-based training that ended with the trainees writing up a report? Most use-of-force scenarios don’t even involve very much handcuffing of suspects. Why? That’s what happens on the street. Why aren’t we finishing the drill in training?

Several times during ILEETA 2014, the conversation turned to the topic of better integrating different types of skills training — “How can we safely train DT and firearms together?” or “How can we pair EVOC and the square range?”

I recently asked three police trainers for their take on how to “put it all together.” Here’s their take — add your thoughts in the comments area below. 

Dan Marcou, PoliceOne Columnist: Eight-Element Formula
How to put it all together — while making it real — is the white whale pursued by police trainers as long as I’ve been training. Instead of going for one realistic training experience, I’ve arrived at offering a variety of realistic training experiences using an eight-element formula. 


1.) Separate techniques “by the numbers.”
2.) Separate techniques “slow for form.”
3.) Separate techniques “smooth is fast.”
4.) Techniques at street application techniques.
5.) Techniques blended into isolation exercises with a known development and outcome.
6.) A variety of scenarios designed that would naturally lead to a low intensity outcome allowing for handcuffing and searching.
7.) A variety of scenarios designed to allow for force-on-force options, with all participants wearing proper protective gear.
8.) Live interactive force training as taught at ILEETA. Trainees can use live weapons with duty ammo while facing projected images of role players on the range in real time, allowing for live interaction in real time.

Blending the skills together can be done safely and effectively when the instructor possesses all the required certifications and is committed to making the training “real.” 

We can never reach pure street intensity, because we would be breaking trainees and their agency will not let you train their officers if you break them. With a great deal of thought — and practice before the class is offered — a trainer can create a very real and effective training experience.

Fred Leland, PoliceOne Contributor: Experiential Learning
I’ve spent the last decade developing programs of instruction that benefit police who need to make tough decisions under pressure. This type of development runs non-stop, creating a fluid and engaging learning environment. 

Participants are always in a situation conducive to the development of personal initiative, teamwork and adaptability. Everyone takes an active role. This may consist of learning how to evaluate peers during adaptive decision games, briefing solutions to the class, or assuming a leadership role in the tabletop exercises and free play exercises — which include role players and all the tools and equipment police use on the street.

During these types of workshops, participants:

•    Assume the role of decision-makers in a variety of high-pressure situations
•    Make difficult decisions with incomplete and sometimes contradictory information available, and observe their peers in similar situations
•    Gain an understanding of each other’s preferred working styles and the importance of moral courage in good leadership
•    Quickly develop a sense of trust among their team as they explore complex problems and build dynamic, adaptive teams, while using all the tools — vehicles, firearms, social skills, critical and creative decision making, strategy, and tactics — available on the street

During these workshops we introduce and practice After Action Reviews (AAR), a tool adapted from the military world and a vital building block for developing adaptive leaders and teams. The trust, respect and understanding developed within the workshop enables students to honestly, effectively and critically evaluate themselves and their peers, critiquing the decisions, not the decision-makers. 

Conducting effective AARs is also a great way of promoting an adaptive culture, helping disseminate knowledge, experience and hard-won lessons throughout the organization and encouraging the faster and more effective decision making and action we aim to deliver cops on the street. 

We have to be working the cognitive thinking dimension as hard as we work the physical and in my view we must working them together as they unfold in real life. 

Ed Flosi, PoliceOne Contributor: Using Resources in Combination
In an ideal world, with the kind of resources nobody actually has in the real world, we’d build a scenario village connected to an EVOC course. The training village would have realistic indoor and outdoor environments to conduct different scenarios. The training scenarios could be continuously evaluated by a multi-discipline instructor covering all the teaching areas within the particular teaching domain(s). The scenarios should be taken to their conclusion to include arrest, medical aid, scene security, etc.

I would like to also see a report writing element included, especially if the scenario included any force response by the officer. While I understand that report writing is not everybody’s favorite thing to do, this gives the trainee an opportunity to receive feedback to better document the force response.

Force option simulators and driving simulators have been used in combination for years. We (San Jose PD in the Bay Area) were lucky to have an indoor simunitions house, mat room, driving simulator and force option simulator (with a mat surface and striking/cuffing dummy) all in the same building. We used these tools sometimes in combination if we had the resources to allow it.

One example of how we did this combination is to have the trainee complete the force option scenario on the screen and then actually perform a proper cuffing technique afterwards until the “scene was secure.” 

The trainee would then verbally give the instructor the highlights of what investigative steps would need to be taken and what key elements would need to covered in the documentation.

Doug Wyllie, PoliceOne Editor in Chief: Do Just One Thing
The question of how to better integrate EVOC, DT, PT, firearms, and other training elements (yeah, even report writing) is an old one, but it hasn’t yet been adequately answered. We must continually challenge ourselves to come up with better solutions. 

One simulator — there may be others — called Driving Force combines driving and UOF elements. As Ed Flosi described, some agencies have different skills simulators and other training resources closely collocated for multi-layered training (SJPD may have 99 problems, but training ain’t one). 

We place vehicles on the range, and do PT drills (pushups, burpees, and running) before shooting a course of fire. I may be inadvertently adding some complexity to my next scheduled firearms training — instructed by my friend and PoliceOne colleague, Ken Hardesty of Spartan Concepts and Consulting — but it’d be interesting to write a report on one of our drills, or simulate performing critical care on the “downed bad guy.”

You don’t need to reinvent your entire in-service training program. However, you can reasonably take a step (or two) toward bringing your all your training elements into closer alignment. 

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