After a block of holidays I spent a week training with 5 days of core patrol tactics. The core patrol tactics course is a total of 10 days tactical training for patrol. We are very fortunate to get the level and amount of training that we do. Our training section and those that support them are phenomenal. I can’t say enough good things about them, they are experts in their field and are passionate that the first responders in Delta are prepared to respond to anything. From the top down we know we have to respond to everything and the only way to do that effectively is with proper equipment and relevant training.
I hope those that have been following along over the past few months have an appreciation that we respond to many different types of calls and very high risk calls with imminent danger aren’t common. However, as first responders, we do have to train for the worst. This week our training included plain clothes tactics, emergency medical response in tactical situations, downed officer or citizen rescue and active attacker response (or immediate rapid deployment).
Our training section and department as a whole is committed to the concept of reality based training. We learn and practice skills, then apply them in simulations and work to full scenarios. This allows us to practice everything in a logical progression from our mere presence to crisis intervention and de-escalation (communication skills), control tactics and less lethal options to lethal force. We do these simulations and scenarios in context with our regular equipment. There really isn’t any better way to train. I’m proud to know I receive such excellent training and I think it’s important for our community to know that we’re prepared.
This is not a topic we typically speak openly about. I can appreciate there may be some public apprehension to know that police have rifles, shotguns, helmets, etc. I recently posted a photo of my “office” in Broken hearts in October:
My passenger seat has a set of hard armour and a helmet. Between the seats is a patrol rifle and a less lethal shotgun. Initially there was some apprehension to posting that photo publicly. The reality is when you look inside my police car when I’m working, in public, that’s what you’ll see. I don’t go to work every shift expecting to use those tools. I have them, train with them and am prepared for a situation I hope never happens.
I know that if a traumatic, violent situation does happen I’m one of the people that will be called to deal with it. These tools are an unfortunate reality of our job. I’d encourage the community not to feel uneasy that there are well armed police officers but be comfortable in the knowledge that your police are equipped and well trained in the event that a traumatic, violent situation ever does happen.
It’s important to mention that statistically police use some kind of force (anything more than communication) in less than 1% of all encounters. We practice our communication skills every shift and every training scenario. It’s important that we practice our use of force skills regularly so that in the very rare event they are required, we are prepared.
In a high risk training environment like this week there are scenarios where crisis intervention and de-escalation were appropriate and the decision to use it needed to be made rapidly. There were also scenarios where the suspect’s behaviour required police to employ lethal force to prevent loss of innocent life. In every simulation or scenario we must practice balanced judgemental decision making given the context and stimulation provided. Every simulation and scenario concludes with a debrief that includes the officer articulating and justifying their actions and covers information and feedback from the trainers, involved officers, suspects and bystanders.
We debated video recording the training and sharing some of it here. The unfortunate reality right now is that we’ve decided we could not accurately and completely portray all of the context and stimulus provided in a simple video. Without the accurate and complete portrayal of the context we may introduce doubt, questions or debate about our tactics and decisions. It could take pages of explanation to explain a 30 second video clip. To completely portray the context we’d have to explain the officer’s training and previous experience. We’d have to provide the information received on the radio while on route to the call and how it was interpreted. A complete explanation of the sights (including peripheral vision, low light adaptation, pattern recognition, etc), sounds, smells and how they were interpreted. Then we’d have to explain the officer’s perception and decision path. All of this information would need to be interpreted to explain a split second decision.
I also want to acknowledge our volunteers for one of the days. We had 25 volunteers attend all day to assist us and assume the roles of suspects, casualties and bystanders. The training wouldn’t have been nearly as effective without these people volunteering their time and putting a lot of effort into their roles.