Friday, October 19, 2012

Cop Night

I love teaching cops.
Teaching martial artists I am aware that most of them, from rank beginners to 'modern combat masters' are getting nothing more than a handful of details to add to their daydreams.  A few (and they are damn few in any given class) will need it-- but they aren't the macho posturers.  The shaved headed guy with the tats generally only has to worry about the situations he creates.  It's the tiny shy woman who really had to work herself up to attend who will be on the radar of the predators. With civilians, THAT is who I teach for.

But teaching cops is special, and it is huge responsibility.  You want to teach self-defense to a bunch of martial athletes and you can teach almost any crap you want.  It will never be tested.  Most training is only one step removed from an amulet.  It makes you safe from violence in the same way and to the same extent as your crucifix keeps vampires away.  It's 100% successful until it gets tested.

When I taught for my agency, I had access to the numbers.  Roughly a third were assaulted in one year, roughly 10% hospitalized.   When we changed the training to our new methods, those numbers dropped by 30%, but that was the baseline.  And that's not "1/3 had Use of Force incidents."  One third were attacked in a given year.

There are three kinds of training: Feel good training, liability reduction training and useful training.

Feel good training ranges from the lecturer who leaves the students feeling pumped and convinced they are 'warriors' to the hands-on training that makes people feel safer but does nothing to make them safer.

Liability reduction training is for the bosses-- they can either go, "Can't blame us, you were trained.  Must be your fault."  Or courses specifically designed to lower liability (like concentrating solely on lower levels of force) regardless of whether the system works.

For useful training, you must know the job and know the people and know your stuff.  I've taken courses from people who were masters at what they could do and had no idea of the policy or law that we worked under.  As such, a third of their stuff was ineffective or impossible to apply and a third would get me brought up on charges.  They didn't know the job.

I've seen instructors try to play 'big man.'  It may work with civilians, it may even work with rookies, but there is no faster way to earn the contempt of a room full of veteran cops than to talk tough.  They know a punk when they see one.  You teach different people in different ways.  Adults vs children; pros vs. interested amateurs.  If they don't listen, you can't reach them and they learn zip.

And you have to know your stuff.  Further, your stuff has to work.  Under pressure.  Outmatched in size and strength.  For the big officers and the small officers.

And there is an element of leadership to training as well.  Consistently, good leaders push the power down.  Every leader you have ever had that you truly respected trusted you.  Told you that you were trusted.  And you were given as much responsibility as you could handle.  Being loud and aggressive and telling people they are wrong may feel like leadership, but from the outside we all recognize that an insecure prick is not a leader.

Got to play with some good kids (rookies) last night.  Loved it.  In the rambling conversation with their head instructor afterwards we talked about a lot of these things.  Method of teaching, but responsibility as well.  When your students are going into harm's way, teaching is much more like being a father than a professor.  These are not underlings, but colleagues worthy of respect.  Moreover, someday, on the worst day of your life when you hit the orange button or put out the call, these are the kids that will be coming to save your ass.  You are literally training your own rescue party.  Look down on them at your own risk.

Anyway, I loved the class.  Deeply respected Herbert, one of the head instructors at the academy.  Good night and it brought on some good memories.


Matt H said...

When can we see the ciriculum you used with your Department? Cops and Corrections are the hardest to train in my opinion. I am always looking for other viewpoints, principles, and techniques to keep the people I train safe. When I teach my DT classes I tend to find not the same passion by the people who i think needs it most. I worry that I am not doing, being, teaching, listening, and knowing enough to get across what I think they should use and take with them. It truely keeps me up at night thinking how I can teach better and when I can learn more. I love reading your blog gives me much fodder for my mind.

Adam said...

Certainly there is more seriousness when it comes to training groups such as police.

There is a much higher chance police will need to rely on their skills than a hobbyist who trains one or two hours a week then spends little other time considering this training.

There is more value in teaching groups like police as well. Police use their skills to go out in the community to protect others. Most others train just to protect themselves noting that too is a good motivation but not as valuable as he who goes into harms way to protect others.

Thanks for helping the police out.

Rob Lyman said...

So here's a kinda related question: I asked a panel of "LE and Mental Health Experts" (including the MCSO mental health guy) who had been criticizing LE interactions with the mentally ill how a cop is supposed to distinguish a mental case from an ordinary punk at high speed, because the proper response is exactly 180 degrees, 100% OPPOSITE between the two cases.

They had no meaningful answer. Do you have tips?

Rory said...

Actually, Matt, I did a pamphlet years ago on how to teach cops. Might resurrect it as an e-book. As for the curriculum, I can give you a copy next time we meet in person.

Rory said...


Have you read "Talking Them Through?" That's my best stab at that problem so far.