FREE e-Newsletter
Important News - Hot Topics
Get them Now!
Brian Willis

Brian Willis

Brian Willis is a retired officer, trainer and author who now serves as deputy executive director for the International Law Enforcement Educators and Trainers Association (ILEETA).

William Harvey

William Harvey

William "Bill" Harvey is currently serving as chief of police in south central Pennsylvania. He retired from the Savannah (Ga.) Police Department where he worked assignments in training, patrol, and CID. Harvey has more than 25 years of experience working with recruits, rookies, and FTOs.

Ask Questions

The question you don't ask could get you hurt, literally.

May 09, 2008  |  by William Harvey - Also by this author

You are a rookie and sometimes you think it is best to stay quiet. You may have been told or maybe it was implied that you should sit down, shut up, and don't touch anything. This could be the worst advice of all. Sometimes it is best to speak up.

You sit there in wonderment, pondering, What if I don't ask a question? If you don't ask, you won't get hollered at for not paying attention, which may be comforting for now. But remember that the FTO program consists of progressive learning with future application of applied knowledge.

If you are in the early phases of your FTO program, you best ask now! If you don't understand what you are doing now, what are you going to do later?

When your FTO directs you to handle an advanced task tomorrow that requires the use of the skill you find troublesome today, you may regret your silence. Ask yourself, Do I want a frown today or to get dinged on my evaluation next week? Even more importantly, do you want to risk getting injured because you don't understand a tactic?

The FTO program is best understood as a building block process. Each and every day you have greater expectation placed on you. Each day requires you to apply a previously learned skill. If you don't have this skill mastered, you are destined to fail. The key here is being sure you know what you are doing before the FTO moves you to a higher level of difficulty.

If your FTO considers your asking questions evidence of his failure to teach, he is off target. Granted, he should have been interjecting questions to you all throughout the process to make sure you understood. Proper questions and correct answers can ensure that the learning process has been achieved.

In my FTO experience, there is always one recruit that asks one thousand questions a day. These recruits will test the best trainers. Some of these types use questions to put off their learning or testing. You can't delay the inevitable; you must perform to pass. One way of limiting questions is the proper teaching process with verbalization. For the FTO and recruit, you are not there to dazzle one another with speed. It takes some time to teach and learn any new task.

The proper demonstration process should cover your questions. Start with the explanation step where the FTO verbalizes the process and performs. This moves to the demonstration step where the FTO verbalizes the process and the recruit performs under the FTO's guidance. The final, or performance, step is where the recruit actually verbalizes and performs under the FTO's scrutiny. By this point you should have had plenty of opportunities to seek answers for any unsolved mysteries.

One of the things that will drive your FTO insane will be an air of inability or whining. There is no whining in FTO programs! Instead, state the issue of where or when you are having difficulty. You can say, "No more for today," "I can't do this," or "this is too hard for me." But be sure to explain where you are confident and at what point there is uncertainty. Remember, there is no room for whiners!

Train hard, train smart, and train with the goal of survival.

Be the first to comment on this story

POLICE Magazine does not tolerate comments that include profanity, personal attacks or antisocial behavior (such as "spamming" or "trolling"). This and other inappropriate content or material will be removed. We reserve the right to block any user who violates this, including removing all content posted by that user.

Other Recent Blog Posts

To Prevent School Shootings, Show Some Muscle
Deterrence is not just a matter of having armed personnel or even sworn officers in the...
Active Shooters, Gun Control, and Mental Health
If we are truly serious about reducing active shooter deaths, we must stop the political...

Get Your FREE Trial Issue and Win a Gift! Subscribe Today!
Yes! Please rush me my FREE TRIAL ISSUE of POLICE magazine and FREE Officer Survival Guide with tips and tactics to help me safely get out of 10 different situations.

Just fill in the form to the right and click the button to receive your FREE Trial Issue.

If POLICE does not satisfy you, just write "cancel" on the invoice and send it back. You'll pay nothing, and the FREE issue is yours to keep. If you enjoy POLICE, pay only $25 for a full one-year subscription (12 issues in all). Enjoy a savings of nearly 60% off the cover price!

Offer valid in US only. Outside U.S., click here.
Police Magazine