Train the brain: Using tactical decision games in training Published at POLICE ONE

On-the-job training and experience is often stated as “the way” to learn the job of policing. What does this mean to us cops? Does it mean with time on the job we’ll get better at what we do, automatically, or magically from working shift after shift and handling call after call? Every time we race to the scene and charge towards the sounds of danger and come out safe with suspect in custody, mean that we have somehow gotten better just by being there and participating in the dangerous encounter? Or is there something more to this concept of “on-the-job training” we should be doing to leverage every experience no matter how small or big to improve our performance?

When I think of on-the-job training I do not envision an environment where you show up for work and fly by the seat of your pants and hope things work out as you think they should. No, what I envision by on-the-job training is that you learn from every experience and focus on leveraging the lessons learned to make you better at the job. Law enforcement officers are members of a profession that does not routinely practice its tactical skills. Only constant violent conflict and violent crime, a condition to objectionable, to even contemplate, would allow such practice. Thus the honing and developing of law enforcement peacekeeping skills must be achieved in other ways. An understanding of tactical theory is an important foundation for mastering tactics, but theory alone will only take you so far. The use of the decisions making exercises and decision making critiques are a couple of ways for officers to gain experience and learn to translate tactical theory to the street, that otherwise could not be gained. Continue reading at my Police One column Staying Oriented