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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.

'Tacticool' Gear Won't Make You a Better Cop

Just because you bought it, doesn't mean you've mastered it.

July 05, 2012  |  by William Harvey - Also by this author

CC_Flickr: Mr DeJerk
CC_Flickr: Mr DeJerk

Let's say you went to a cop shop or gun show and found some needful thing that you can't live without. Maybe you've been issued a new device or gizmo at work and you're too smart to ask questions or too cool to read directions, so you fumble through using it.

Let's recall one of the truisms of life—real cops don't read directions. Often the reason we have workman's comp is for life's "Hey, watch this" moments.

Just because you got it out of the childproof packaging doesn't mean you know how to properly use it. Here's a reminder for FNGs (Fabulous New Guys). If it's a police item you would describe as "tactical cool," please read your departmental policy and procedures to see if it is allowed. Taking something on duty that is out of policy (and possibly illegal in your state) could be a risky career move. I've seen far too many nearly science fiction police toys sold to young cops. After you have performed a sensible policy check, read the directions.

I personally know one of the best holster designers and duty gear consultants in the business. He told me an interesting story a few years ago, when the police industry stepped away from Border Patrol-style holsters and toward what we now know as Level 1, Level 2, or Level 3 holsters.

He wrote up instructions about how to use the new holster. He made instructional videos and wrote the lesson plan about the transition toward this new holster. The company marketing it reviewed and recommended some changes in his work. He wrote that it takes thousands of repetitions to develop muscle memory. To perform under stress without hesitation, he recommended that the holster's wearer practice extensively before wearing it on the streets. This is similar to what we've been taught about marital arts that require thousands of repetitions to acquire muscle memory.

A few stuffed suits in the industry suggested that he lighten up on all this. Since this new nicky neat holster was tactical cool and every cop would want one, it would be sold with these recommendations as fine print. Luckily, for all of us, the firearms instructors got this and worked it in with semi-auto transitions.

Please recall that under stress you will perform with the lowest skill level you've mastered under training stress. No hero with super powers will jump out of the sky to protect you. If you have any new tools of police life added to your toolbox, read and heed the directions. Practice with it while under stress. Remember the first time you had to place a bandage on a victim in training? Either it fell off or perhaps you selected one too small for the trauma.

Practice your skills now to ensure success. Avoid embarrassment and increase you survivability. Cool is one thing, living and success is as good as it gets.

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