It’s time the law enforcement community realizes the waves of societal angst are crashing over the levees. Photo AP
FEATURED IN LEADERSHIP
Time is one of man's universal equalizers. You can't save it. You can't borrow it. And, although on occasion it seems to slow or speed up, the atomic clock is the true arbiter. In the final analysis, time is fairly apportioned on a daily basis to all, which kind of sucks.
Each day, people waste time as though it's an inexhaustible resource. Worse, they bemoan its shortage while squandering it. How many times have you heard law enforcement trainers complain of the lack of time to accomplish the near-impossible task of completing all the state-mandated training? In many instances, these mandates are driven by political will, or broken and outdated standards. They also fail to actually prepare officers for the battles they ll fight on the street, in the courtroom and in life.
Sure, there seems to be an ever-increasing task load, but unless or until the system changes, this is the reality we must face.
Example: A western administrator recently told me his legislature was now contemplating a bill that would require officers to become darn-near sociologists. Apparently, some bored academics completed a study that revealed a connection between the incarceration rates of children born to those incarcerated. The study cites some measure of trauma to those children due to the insensitivity of the officers who arrested their parents.
In short, if you saw your daddy get arrested and the officer didn't seek you out and give you a teddy bear, a big hug and an explanation why daddy had to go to jail, then you're likely to become an offender yourself, and the cycle continues.
The academic solution? Pile sociological training onto an already impossible calendar. While such academically driven lunacy isn t likely to pass the full legislature, the fact remains that there are those in positions of power who ultimately dictate much of what must be taught (and refreshed) on an annual basis.
With funding cutbacks and an increasingly complex mission for law enforcement, much of the training that truly matters to an officer on the street gets gutted. How on earth will even the most dedicated trainer pack all necessary training into the limited time afforded in the training year?
As I remarked earlier, we squander time. We can no longer afford that luxury. Idle moments must be reclaimed. Trainers must redouble their efforts to learn about cutting-edge teaching and learning methods if they hope to succeed.
In the past, I've written about my Ten Minute Warrior concept. Officers spend at least 10 minutes per day focusing on improving their skills of the Seven Survivals, seven core areas that advance their response to the challenges of a law enforcement career. Ten minutes a day equals 60 hours per year.
By adding this style of learning to a training block, officers will have not only a greatly expanded training program, but will learn in a manner that best helps them absorb the information for long-term retention.
Action vs. Reaction
Officers, however, aren't likely to embrace this type of self-paced learning on their own. Just as many won't go to the gym and participate in independent physical fitness programs, they must be driven by a trainer providing the daily drills. Administrators must buy-in to the concept so some of the drills can be accomplished during roll call. Officers also must buy-in to the concept, take the training drills seriously and actually participate.
It's time the law enforcement community realizes waves of social unrest are crashing over the levees, and unless the levees are bolstered through active training, we're in for a bleak future. Don't believe me? Visit www.policefuturists.org. Law enforcement isn't very good when it comes to action as opposed to reaction.
Wayne Gretzky's father once counseled him, Son, you've gotta go where the puck is going, not where it's been. If we wait to react to social issues we'll face in the coming years, it just may be too late. And while there's a push to do more with less, there's still much we can do if, and only if, the way we do things changes dramatically.
Stephen Covey, author of The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People, wrote, "If you want to make small changes in people, [and organizations] change their behaviors. If you want to make quantum changes, change their belief systems." It's time to change the belief that there isn't enough time to train and to recognize we must maximize the time available. At the end of the day, (literally and figuratively) that's all we have.
Belief systems change through evolution, psychotherapy or emotionally significant events. We can't wait to change through emotionally significant events, so consider this article to be your psychotherapeutic intervention.
Dr. Kenny says, "Wake up from your dream. Things won't change on their own, except for the worse." Realizing you're both the problem and solution is liberating. Doing the work, 10 minutes at a time, will spur the evolutionary process toward meaningful change. The alternative is to accept the status quo. We ve seen where that leads, and it ain't pretty.
Until next time, train hard and train safe.