Shift Briefing Series: The tactical pause

A tactical pause can help a law enforcement officer get back into “control” after being involved in a stressful incident


The Shift Briefing Series is designed to provide law enforcement officers with short training videos that will help make them smarter, safer and more efficient in daily operations and when responding to critical incidents. The videos address key components of the Top 20 Concepts, a class I created and have presented around the country since 2011. The class addresses 20 foundational concepts in law enforcement that are based in law, policy and ethics, are repeatable and defensible, and assist with critical incident decision-making. Group discussion questions are listed after each video to help solidify the topics and ensure the application is in line with your department’s mission and values.

This video covers the concept of a tactical pause and describes the benefits and importance of the three steps: Breathe, evaluate and communicate.

A tactical pause can help get a law enforcement officer back into “control” after being involved in a stressful incident, like the use of force. Parts of the concept can also be used in many different events where it is important to regain some level of control of one’s self.

Other concepts like the OODA loop and the Safety Priorities are infused into this conversation and help explain how to properly apply a TP.

Use the discussion questions below to help start a conversation with others to better understand this concept and help make the training “stick.” This concept can be practiced at any time to help it become part of your critical incident response.

Questions to ask

  1. Why is breaking an officer’s “tunnel vision” important on a call?
  2. How does the OODA loop come into play when using a tactical pause?
  3. When evaluating your position, when might it be appropriate to move toward the suspect instead of moving to cover and/or moving backward? Do the Safety Priorities help make that decision?
  4. What do you think is the difference between compliance and perfect compliance?
  5. Why should a law enforcement officer not always look for perfect compliance?
  6. Why is it important to be “calm, clear and confident” when communicating to dispatch, other officers and the suspect?
  7. Why is it important to continue to plan after applying the “three steps” of the tactical pause?

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