The title of this article, "if you wish for peace, prepare for war" or "si vis pacem, para bellum," is an ancient Roman proverb, which conveys a concept that will last for eternity. That being, in many cases, peace can be achieved through superior skill, developed through training and preparation.
We all know that violent felons, as a general rule, aren’t academically well-educated. However, it seems that many would hold a doctorate degree in reading people, if such a degree existed. It’s my belief that many of our potential opponents can and do “read” and size up officers, and some can do it with uncanny accuracy.
I also believe that the more prepared that an officer is actually lowers the chances that they'll have to use their combative skills, and for two reasons:
1. I believe that many felons are less likely to resist an officer that they sense can and will tear them a new one; and
2. The better trained and prepared you are, the less likely you are to inadvertently and unnecessarily place yourself in harm’s way. However, when a confrontation does arise, better-prepared officers can neutralize the danger much more efficiently, using reasonable force options based upon the threat and circumstances they are facing.
Unfortunately, few, if any departments, can or will provide you with the levels of training I would like to see instilled into all officers. In too many cases, officers who pursue the upper echelon of preparatory skills will have to seek them out on their own.
Let’s say you are in that situation. Your department can’t -- or won’t -- provide you with the level of training that you want and need. What’s your best, most affordable option? For most officers, the answer is doing your research in the books of the masters of your craft, and then evaluating what you’ve learned with Dave Spaulding’s 3 S Test, and practicing those skills you find valuable. Always follow Bruce Lee’s advice on training: “Absorb what is useful, discard what is not.”
I’m going to give you the A-list of what I consider to be the Top 10 law enforcement training books that will help you prepare. Are there other excellent books that I’m going to leave out? Absolutely. Some will be excluded because of the 10-spot limitation, some because they cover the same information as those listed in a similar fashion, and others because I haven’t read them. However, if I had a son or daughter attending a police academy today, this list contains the first 10 books they would receive from me.
In no particular order:
Arresting Communication: Essential Interaction Skills for Law Enforcement, by Lt. Jim Glennon
Authored by the lead instructor for the current Calibre Press Street Survival seminar, do not be misled by the title or underestimate the importance of this communications book. It teaches how to use communication as a real-world control tool, fully acknowledges there’s time to talk and a time to fight, and is unlike any other book I’ve ever read. From reading body language to avoiding career-changing traps, the effective police officer uses “communications” far more than the skill is given credit for. Arresting Communication is not only packed with vital information, it’s incredibly entertaining, and written in a cop-to-cop format. Developing the skills covered in this book will help you throughout your career.
Blood Lessons, by Charles Remsberg
Blood Lessons is a compilation of two-dozen life-threatening, sometimes absolutely horrific officer-involved events. This format gives the reader lessons from actual, well-documented incidents, which are detailed and then analyzed and evaluated by the author, other experts and the officers involved. Learning from other officer’s real-world experiences, instead of hypothetical situations, gives the reader a concrete learning experience based in the reality of law enforcement.
Deadly Force Encounters: What Cops Need to Know to Mentally and Physically Prepare For And Survive a Gunfight, by Dr. Alexis Artwohl
Written by a now retired police psychologist turned highly respected law enforcement trainer, Deadly Force Encounters is clearly and accurately described by its subtitle above. It became a classic, must-have book for law enforcement trainers within months of its publication. You would be hard pressed to find any highly competent law enforcement trainer, that doesn’t use training material that originated in this book.
Emotional Survival for Law Enforcement, by Kevin Gilmartin, Ph.D.
This book is arguably the most important one included in this list. Personally, I know far more officers who have been emotionally crushed by the job than physically disabled. Although you may or may not be involved in a deadly force altercation, you will experience the roller coaster of emotions that Dr. Gilmartin, a former LEO, covers in this book. IMHO, if this book were mandatory reading in all police academies, many of the common problems associated with the law enforcement sub-culture, such as alcoholism and divorce, would be greatly reduced.
Handgun Combatives, 2nd Edition, by Dave Spaulding
Packed with simple, sensible, and street proven effective concepts, skills and cutting-edge techniques, Handgun Combatives, 2nd Edition, is a tactical goldmine for real-world operators and law enforcement. Dave Spaulding, the 2010 Law Officer Trainer of the Year, covers the vast majority of material from his highly respected and renowned Handgun Combatives Seminar in this book. I consider it to be the Bible of realistic handgun training manuals.
Mental Training for Peak Performance, by Steven Ungerleider, Ph.D.
Although several of the other books will introduce you to visualization exercise, this is the best book I’ve found that covers all aspects and numerous exercises for Visual Motor Behavior Rehearsal (VMBR). Originally written for world-class athletes and those that aspire to be athletes, the exercises within are easily adaptable to the armed professional.
On Combat, by Lt. Col. Dave Grossman
On Combat is the absolute quintessential writing explaining the effects of combat on the psychology and physiology of the human body. Although it sounds complex, and actually is, Col. Grossman’s writing style is: never boring, very entertaining, informative, and easy to understand. On Combat is a great money and time investment not only for law enforcement, but for anyone involved in any type of competitive endeavor as well.
Street Survival: Tactics for Armed Encounters, The Tactical Edge: Surviving High-Risk Patrol, and Tactics for Criminal Patrol: Vehicle Stops, Drug Discovery & Officer Survival, by Charles Remsberg
These three books have been listed as a set to emphasize their importance, and to acknowledge the work of the “Godfather” of officer survival training. What can be said about the three bestselling books of all time on officer survival, which are utilized in more than 50 countries? There’s not a currently active police officer or law enforcement trainer who hasn’t been affected, directly or indirectly, by these books and the work of Chuck Remsberg, one of the co-founders of the original Calibre Press. These books set the universal foundation for realistic police training worldwide. They’re packed with vital information that’s applicable to the veteran officer, as well as the inexperienced rookie.
By no means is this an all-inclusive list of all the great training books and manuals available. Even as I write this ending paragraph, I wish I had more space for what probably should be a list of the Top 25 police training manuals. But I stand behind this list as a great place to start.
Before paying top-dollar for these (or any book for that matter), always check Amazon.com and Ebay.com first. On occasion, used copies of some of these books, can be purchased online for around $10. But even at full retail, they’re a bargain for those who read them. Besides, how do you put a price upon your life or something that can potentially save it?
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