"It Never Happens Here" So WHY Do We Train?

“Nine-tenths of tactics are certain and taught in books: but the irrational tenth is like the kingfisher flashing across the pool, and that is the test of generals. It can only be ensured by instinct, sharpened by thought practicing the stroke so often that at the crisis it is as natural as a reflex.” ~T.E Lawrence

It Never Happens Here

Police use of force is rare, police actually use force in about 1% of all their contacts. Police shootings are even rarer.  Police officers feloniously killed in the line of duty is rare.  A police officer drawing his firearm is rare. Police killed in automobile accidents are rare. Active shootings are rare. Murder is rare. Armed robberies are rare. Domestic abuse is rare. Street level drug arrests resulting in the death of a cop or the offender is rare? Hell statistically crime is rare and violent crime the rarest of it all. We could go on and on here with other examples about the rarity of crime, conflict and violence here at home in the United States. The U.S. now has a population of over 310,000,000 million, and only about 20% of the population will have some type of contact with a police officer about half of these contacts being connected to a traffic related incident and another 25% reporting a problem to the police. Most people will not have contact with the police and those that do only a small percentage of them will be victims of crime or a violent act, so why train at all?

The statistics above show that most police work is centered more on solving community related quality of life issues verse crime and violent acts. My experience shows me this as well so I can understand theoretically, based on the frequency of crime and violence why the proverbial “It never happens here” attitude is prevalent and easy to accept even throughout the rank and file of law enforcement. This is one of the reasons I do not like statistics as they box us into a certain way of thinking and hence complacency and we become victims, if you will, of our own success or our own good luck and we continue in believing “it will never happen here.” I wonder if our adversaries possess this attitude or, do they exploit ours?

Why Do We Train?

“It is said that only a fool learns from his own mistakes, a wise man from the mistakes of others.” ~Otto von Bismarck

Problem with the thinking and attitude of it never happens here is when crime and violence does strike you at home it has serious and profound effects on the members of the community and the officers sworn to protect that community. We must be prepared and ready ourselves for the uncommon, unpredictable and uncertainties that surround crime and violence when it appears and shows its ugliness. Failure to prepare is a risk and one that costs is in life and death.

The expense, time and effort to be truly prepared for the evolving threats to community and individual officers take dedication and focus. It is no secret that police work is described as 95% boredom and 5% OH sh*^! So why are we basing our training efforts on how frequent a crisis takes place verses the critical and harmful nature of the crisis? Most agencies will dedicate countless hours drafting, and writing policy and procedures with little, if any, time training, educating officers and implementing the policy and procedures they spent their efforts in writing.

Training and education, blending people and ideas with policy and procedure is the key to preparedness. In conflict, crime and violence there is no substitute for experience, no substitute for the intuitive skill that comes from repeated practice. Training and education is practice field for the tactical leader. We all, leaders and the frontline, must identify the potential threats and create the sense of urgency in not training and educating officers. Then take advantage of both formal and informal means to train. We must utilize roll call, to conduct tactical decision games and use down time after a crisis to conduct after action reviews. Use trickle training (short time spans) to enhance lessons and skills already learned. Of course we must also seek the formal and more costly training programs facilitated by experts to ensure we are using best practices that build the foundation for sound strategy, operations and tactics that enable us to adapt, innovate and develop next practices to prepare for adaptable adversaries.

We are professionally obligated to do whatever we can to gain whatever experience we can without paying full price. That is precisely why we study past incidents and precisely why we need to get rid of the “IT WILL NEVER HAPPEN HERE” mindset and TRAIN!

“A general should say to himself many times a day: if the hostile army were to make its appearance in front, on my right, or on my left, what should I do?” ~Napoleon

Stay Oriented!

Fred