During the summer of 2009, I had the opportunity to receive training that was unlike anything I’ve ever experienced. During the past 33 years, I’ve had the pleasure of attending many firearms and force-related courses, all of which were directed at law enforcement or legally armed citizens. The protocols for delivering force (including when to use deadly force) are based on the “reasonableness doctrine” established by the U.S. Supreme Court cases Graham v. Connor and Garner v. Tennessee. Both of these cases established that the use of force is guided by the Fourth Amendment and is a “seizure” that must be “reasonable based on the circumstances at hand”.
Operating in High Risk Environments
In some cases, law enforcement officers must operate in what are called high risk-environments. These operators (a term that I do not use lightly) must undergo special training to deal with the distinctive circumstances they often face, and many do so at the Crucible training center in Virginia. At Crucible, participants learn how to escape, evade, fight, shoot and drive their way out of situations that might very well result in their death.
Training at Crucible was an eye opening experience for me and one that I won’t forget. It’s not that their training differs greatly from standard law enforcement training (Crucible trains police advisors and tactical teams regularly); it’s how the training is applied that separates it from what we do. After all, there are only so many ways to shoot a gun, throw a punch or drive a vehicle, but the application of these skills can differ significantly.
For example, pretend that you’re an intelligence officer secretly operating in an African country affected by an ongoing civil war. While meeting with an important informant in a hotel room, the building is attacked, and you must escape quickly. As you’re working your way down the hallways, stairs and out into the street, you encounter several people armed with AK-47’s. How do you know who the good guys and bad guys are? Do you wait to determine what to do next, or do you just shoot any potential threat you face? After all, it’s your life we are talking about here. Now can you see the difference between what these high-risk operators face and what American police officers commonly deal with?
Crucible’s Techniques for Success
In the high risk environment, the focus is on winning quickly, efficiently and with techniques that are easy to learn, maintain and use when needed. This is what Crucible is all about. Founded in the early 1990s by former Marine Special Missions Officer Kelly McCann, Crucible is considered a center of excellence for those who must acquire special skills to be in harm’s way. Every employee of Crucible is a former U.S. Marine with overseas experience operating in high-risk environments. Crucible employees have worked in Iraq, Afghanistan, the Balkans, Congo, Ghana, Sierra Leone and other dangerous spots around the world.
Although Crucible doesn’t accept open enrollment students (private security and government only), you can have a look into what they teach via a new series of videos available from Paladin Press. In these videos, McCann and his employees teach techniques to train for high-risk environments. Much of this material is beneficial for law enforcement officers.
The first video in the series is called Kem-‘ba-tiv Knife and deals with the use of the knife, primarily the folder, in close combat. With the growing interest in the knife in law enforcement—as a cutting tool and back-up weapon—this video dispenses with complicated flow drills and trapping exercises and discusses a simple, effective fighting curriculum. The goal is to neutralize threats by either inflicting pain or causing damage so that your attacker gives up.
Pocket Pistols features lead Crucible firearms instructor Phil Motzer who talks about the advantages and disadvantages of using snub-nose revolvers and pocket-size semi-automatics for those times when a larger handgun just won’t do. Motzer teaches various concealment and deployment methods, and demonstrates shooting tactics and ballistic effects on animal tissue. If you carry one of these guns, this video will provide worthwhile information for its use.
Combative Conditioning is not for the meek. This video provides a workout that will better prepare you for combat by developing cardiovascular endurance and fast-twitch muscle fiber. Think you are in good shape? Try this workout and see.
Mission-Essential Off-Road Driving is all about pitting your four-wheel drive vehicle against nature. Crucible instructor Chad Morman discusses how to equip your vehicle, as well as how to take it out into the most inhospitable terrain and keep moving. With all of the SUVs that are currently being used by law enforcement agencies, this video offers a better understanding of how the four-wheel drive can be utilized to its full potential.
Exploding Handgun Myths examines many of the things we know to be true about combative handgun use but haven’t necessarily been proven by real field use. By discussing what really works under the physiological effects of imminent danger versus the square range, firearms instructor Phil Motzer educates viewers about what works and what doesn’t in a real gunfight.
The final video in the series is Ground Kem-‘ba-tivz. In this video, McCann discusses the mixed martial arts phenomenon and what the viewer needs to know to stop these increasingly popular techniques from being used against them.
Just like with previous Crucible training tapes from Paladin, this latest series offers worthwhile information for law enforcement officers from the world of high-risk environment training. And although most of us aren’t battling terrorists in the Middle East, every street cop in America faces their own high-risk environment daily.
For more information about the DVD series, call Paladin Press at 303/443-7250 or visit www.paladin-press.com.