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It was reported in the Los Angeles Times this week that the LAPD is conducting a "deep dive" into its training program to examine how closely officer training adheres to recent changes in use-of-force policies.

The audit will examine whether agency training adequately addresses the policy requiring officers utilize de-escalation techniques and less-lethal weapons before resorting to potentially deadly force tactics.

The Times report—unsurprisingly—intimated that the review was spurred by a "cluster of shootings in the final weeks of the year" such as the deadly officer-involved shooting of a 24-year-old man who was seen assaulting customers with a bike lock in a store two days before Christmas. That shooting also resulted in the accidental death of a 14-year-old girl who was hiding with her mother in a dressing room inside the store.

Chief Michel Moore told a meeting of the civilian Police Commission that he had challenged his staff to begin the review prior to that incident.

If you as a police leader—or a police trainer answering to "The Brass"—woke up one morning and performed an audit of your agency’s training program, what would you find?

Channeling Rumsfeld

Donald Rumsfeld—while Secretary of Defense—once famously said, "As we know, there are known knowns—there are things we know we know. We also know there are known unknowns—that is to say we know there are some things we do not know. But there are also unknown unknowns—the ones we don’t know we don't know."

Another question to ponder is, "Why do we know what I think we know?" That is to say, upon what evidence do we make our conclusions?

In the training realm, there has been—for the past several decades—a reliance on available dash- and body-camera footage of police incidents to address training needs.

Earlier this week—Wednesday the 12th, to be exact—marked the 24th anniversary of the tragic murder of Deputy Kyle Dinkheller during a traffic stop on a rural road in Dudley, Georgia.

The Dinkheller video is one of many used nationwide for police training.

Trainers should not only take into account videos of tragedy (to be avoided), but also review videos of victory (to be heeded, emulated, and repeated).

There are vast libraries of dash- and body-camera videos "in house" at nearly every agency which can potentially help police trainers refine their instruction and improve police officer safety and success on the streets. 

Answering Nietzsche

Friedrich Nietzsche once asserted, "There are no facts, only interpretations."

This is a fascinating topic of discussion as a philosophical argument, but from a practical standpoint trainers can set it aside and operate under the assumption that certain "facts" and "truths" are knowable.

There are countless hours of dash- and body-camera footage upon which conclusions can be reached and recommendations can be made.

Case law dictates what is permissible and laws of physics define what is possible.

Training audits and reviews should be constant and ongoing, not the result of perceived pressure from politicians or the press.

Building and implementing all aspects of police training begins with constantly collecting—and interpreting—the known knowns and exploring for the unknown unknowns.

Author

Doug Wyllie
Doug Wyllie

Contributing Editor

Doug Wyllie has authored thousands of feature articles, opinion columns, news reports, and tactical tips with the goal of 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).

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Doug Wyllie has authored thousands of feature articles, opinion columns, news reports, and tactical tips with the goal of 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).

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