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.

Author

William Harvey
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.

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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.

View Bio
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