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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).

Doug  Wyllie

Doug Wyllie

Doug Wyllie has authored more than 1,000 articles and tactical tips aimed at ensuring that police officers are safer and more successful on the streets. Doug is a Western Publishing Association “Maggie Award” winner for Best Regularly Featured Digital Edition Column. He is a member of International Law Enforcement Educators and Trainers Association (ILEETA), an Associate Member of the California Peace Officers’ Association (CPOA), and a member of the Public Safety Writers Association (PSWA).

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.

Realistic Training Makes You a Better Cop

Officers now have more advanced tools, which require more intelligent training.

February 14, 2013  |  by William Harvey - Also by this author

Photo courtesy of William Harvey.
Photo courtesy of William Harvey.

When I started as young pup, I was issued a revolver, "break front" holster, baton, and canister of Mace (CN gas). The field sergeant had a shotgun and that was it. Go out and do good things. Once you got out of the FTO program you could carry a leather sap.

I guess back then we either had to whoop 'em or shoot 'em. Now, we've moved beyond these nearly Neanderthal standard issues and entered into a more intelligent and safer era for defensive tactics.

We now have advanced handguns, and it's rare to see a revolver on patrol. Many of us have patrol rifles and bailout bags for bad-day response. Retention holsters enhance safety and have saved many officers' lives. We now use collapsible batons for ready carry. How many times did the baton end up in the trunk and wasn't available when needed? Our aerosol propellants are now more reliable. We are in a less-lethal era, which began with bean-bags rounds. Most all departments now utilize an electronic control device (ECD) in their response to resistance.

All this requires more of our officers. Longer basic training, new item certifications, and follow-up recertifications. Did I forget policies? Yes, lots of them. Every new item has a multiple-page document to accompany it. The old adage of "more is good" could probably be rewritten to "more is often overwhelming if not confusing." As a result, we now need more intelligent training.

For instance, training often occurs in the lovely climate-controlled training room. We've made it that way for liability and safety reasons. We don't want an officer injury and if so, we want to reduce liability on our trainers and the agency. I support whatever we can do to make training safe and injury free. But are we truly preparing our officers?

I was recently asked if there are any training facilities that train defensive tactics applications on a stairwell or in close quarters. I had no answer. I've had to make arrests on stairwells; it was always going up the steps. I've had to handle domestic disputes in older mobile homes where close combat was invented, or that's what I thought that night. Most of our training is on the mats and not falling over furniture. Check out Crown Law Enforcement Training Products for safe training props and furniture. More and more there is litigation on foot pursuit policy. We are arresting free-range criminals.

We love going to the range. If get free bullets and you're paying me to shoot, I'm first in line. Have you attended the range in the cold and rain? I had never really done so until I moved to Pennsylvania, but it was a new experience. Training in real-world conditions is the key. Some officers must do it all in the comfort of an indoor range. Get outside in the hot, cold, dark and whatever weather you have to operate in. Realism begins in training and not in make believe.

Comments (5)

Displaying 1 - 5 of 5

Billy @ 2/26/2013 12:48 AM

Bill Harvey and I have a lot in common; seems like we started wearing a badge about the same time. I agree that training ought to reflect real-world scenarios and conditions. I was recently undergoing some intermediate force training that included extracting a non-compliant subject from a holding cell. We did part of the training in one of the cells so that each officer could see the difficulties involved. I'd like to see more range training in different conditions like cold and rainy weather. These conditions can be real "game changers," but unfortunately 95% of the time the shooting is done indoors or when outdoors the weather is cooperative. Too bad, as some officers might have to learn the hard way how much more difficult it is to handle a wet or cold weapon.

Rob K @ 2/26/2013 5:29 AM

Interesting article, I would be interested to hear if there is any data or academic research available to support your claims?

John @ 2/27/2013 12:28 AM

Chief Harvey may not have any data or research available to support his claims, but (based on his articles) he has more than enough common sense and experience. Only a dimwit would question the above article.

Jeff Peterson @ 2/28/2013 1:21 PM

I agree with the article title and working full time at the range you have to come up with different scenarios! Recently a company called Jedburgh Target Systems came to our range and set up a demo and I have to tell you it was the best reaction targets I have ever shot on. They are steel pepper poppers that take a random number of shots before they go down. They brought out six targets and you never knew which one was going to pop up and it was controlled by an I-pod. We had six guys with us and we shot over 2,500 rounds. You can see us shooting on Jedburgh’s facebook page. South Carolina…..

Holly Acker @ 3/4/2014 12:38 PM

Modern Warrior in Lindenhurst, NY is focused 100% on realistic training scenarios. They offer training in confined areas like elevators, hallways, and even has a full sized training bus to teach tactics that can be used from an aisle or even a seat. Their environmental simulation room includes things like a car ( to simulate stops and situations where it's dark and headlights may blind an officer), stairs, chain link fences, and more. In addition, they do rain, wind, "snow", and fog simulation, which is sometimes combined with stress inducing stimulus to create a training environment and body chemical reaction much like what officers would experience in a real-like life or death situation. (see video)

The owner of the school is Phil Messina, NYPD (Ret.) Sergeant & world recognized Defensive Tactics Instructor

If you have any interest in coming out to see the school or even get a demo of the type of training offered let me know!

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