Thursday, February 14, 2013
In civilian law enforcement, time is money—and training is subservient to budget restraints. So how do agencies train to an adequate standard while staying on budget?
One way is to use the small unit leader (shift supervisors) as the primary trainer. This method has three benefits: 1) It maximizes training frequency while preserving training dollars; 2) It allows departments to sustain training conducted at annual training events; and 3) It develops and creates confidence in leaders. Here is why.
Maximizing Training Frequency
The shift supervisor is first line leader who’s responsible for training their officers at individual and collective tasks. Individual tasks consist of, but are not limited to laws, case law, agency procedures, technical skills and tactical skills. Collective tasks are completed by two or more officers, such as building searches, high-risk traffic stops, domestic violence calls, etc.
By utilizing the “Tell, Show, Do” method, first line supervisors can train their officers on individual and the collective tasks that they support. The hands-on training or “Do” portion can be conducted by doing dry-run training. Safety protocols must be established at the agency level prior to the initiation of such training. First line supervisors can also train their officers during roll call, or down time, with hip-pocket/opportunity training. By utilizing roll call or down time, we are maximizing time available during shifts, thus eliminating overtime costs from the equation. The frequency in conducting individual and collective tasks will increase, thus establishing a greater degree of competency in the shift’s individual officers.
Annual Training Events
Having the small unit leader as the primary trainer allows departments to sustain training conducted at annual training events, such as CPR, first aid and blood borne pathogens, and active shooter training. Training events that occur annually can’t be sustained over the year without sustainment training. Opportunity training/hi-pocket training provides that sustainment through frequency in training.
For example, in active shooter training the small unit leader trains his officers on the collective and individual tasks that support the active shooter mission. By training the tasks periodically over the year, the officers maintain a level of competency at a mean level, which the army calls “the band of excellence.” In the end, we establish a more efficient system that creates proficient officers and reinforces department level training.
Creating Confidence in Leaders
The use of the small unit leader as the primary trainer develops and creates confidence in leaders. This, by far, is the key to the entire system of leader-led training. Leadership development is a challenge in all industries. How do we develop technically and tactically sound leaders in the law enforcement profession?
Placing the responsibility of our officers training squarely on their leader’s shoulders, demands that leaders be technically and tactically proficient. All leaders want to be successful—and generally speaking, most leaders are. Commanders give direction to leaders by establishing duties and responsibilities. If subordinate leaders are delegated as mid-grade administrators, then they’ll focus on those skills encompassing administrative duties in order to be successful. Establishing our leaders as trainers will focus attention on patrol duties, thus making them better patrol leaders on the road.
When a leader trains his subordinates at day-to-day patrol duties, leaders gain confidence in their own skills while achieving an understanding of their shift’s capabilities, strengths and weaknesses. This will enable leaders to develop subordinates for informal and formal leadership roles. Subordinates will develop a great deal of respect for their leaders, and confidence in their leaders’ technical and tactical skills. Subordinates will develop an understanding of what leadership is in their organization, and will emulate their leaders.
The use of the small unit leader as the primary trainer is a force multiplier. It will allow agencies to increase frequency of training, thus enabling sustainment of skills. In essence it frees administrators from overtime concerns. This ultimately enables agencies to concentrate on training to standards—not to time.
Officer Scott M. Hyderkhan is a patrol officer of 11 years with the city of Mercer Island, Washington. Hyderkhan is a retired master sergeant of the U.S. Army with 20 years’ service. Taylor and Francis/CRC Press is publishing Officer Hyderkhan’s Active Shooter Response Training Manual, and it will be available in the spring of 2013. You can read more about the manual at www.kinetictactical.com.