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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.
Training

A Message For FTOs: Prepare For the Worst

Rookie officers need short briefings on gangs, verbal communication codes and other crucial officer-safety issues.

August 13, 2010  |  by William Harvey - Also by this author

This blog is for the Field Training Officers (FTO). For your work, diligence and service to the profession, I thank you. However, the Field Training Recruits (FTR) and academy recruits need to heed this one as well.

I do not know what program your agency uses, its length and just how strenuous it is, but it's time to have some reality brought to it. In the first day or so of training, have the tactical briefing for the recruit. I know of recruits during week one getting involved in critical incidents. One recruit told me he was sent to stand beside the car. This was a waste of valuable training for him, and he should have been briefed so he could have responded.

I was amazed to find that some departments were waiting to assign the new officers before offering active-shooter training. What happens if the recruit is riding with the FTO and an active shooter call goes out? The FTO can't teach, tell, brief or instruct as he or she is driving to a developing scene. This is one topic that has to be presented right away and not wait until a week with a double-digit number.

It's not always an active shooter, but how many calls do you respond to that could become an armed confrontation? I think of alarms-in-progress, domestic disputes, bar calls and gang contacts. These need to receive the once over or brief intros during the first week.

The academy may have given a brief overview about gangs, their culture and recognition. Academy directors, this should be a curriculum addition.  However, FTOs, you know your district and beat; you know your gang members. The overview in the academy may not cover all the nuances that your recruit will need to interact tactically with them. We all know each sect has its differences; tell your recruit in the first week the safety clues they'll need now.

OK, I know this may be way too much for the first day or so but it is all about officer safety and survival. We all have our tactical hand signal or codes we use to ensure tactical non-verbal interaction around the perps. Give this to the recruits as soon as you can. What happens is that the FTO will forget what level of training the recruit is in and will give a hand signal or speak in a code while interacting with a street contact. The recruit will be standing in awe not knowing what to do; this can either be funny or tragic.

FTOs, stop rolling your eyes at me. I'm aware of everything you have to do, and the limited time you have to perform this program. However, I have heard a story or two from readers—none are tragic, but they could have been.

You have a program but frontload some critical ones and you can enhance them later, when they're scheduled in the program. My goal is to make sure that we save lives, reduce injuries, and avoid rookies standing by the car. They need the experience and you could use the back-up.

Tags: FTOs, Officer Safety


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