Al Sharpton, Bill Clinton, and other self-righteous police critics need to spend some quality time in force-on-force scenario training. I call that training the "funhouse." And I use the term ironically because it teaches you that being an officer in high stress situations is anything but fun.
Force-on-force training affords law enforcement officers the invaluable training opportunity to marry tactical responses with professional real-time threat assessments. And the protective equipment worn by the role players precludes anyone from knowing the other guy's ethnic origin.
What if we suited up Sharpton, Clinton, biased reporters, and other "experts" on police tactics, and sent them into the funhouse? I would expect that exposing them to a medium level risk scenario would result in their emptying their Simunition weapons…and perhaps their bowels. There is no better way to understand the risks officers are confronted with than running through realistic scenario-based training.
After the 1999 shooting incident with Amadou Diallo and NYPD Officers, law enforcement trainers began to integrate language barrier challenges into scenario training. Trainers also created low-light scenarios where non-compliant subjects reached for keys or wallets after being told to keep their hands in the air. What we all learned from this training was we didn't want to be in the shoes of the officers in these incidents. It is tragic that Diallo died, but we learned the risk factors that led to the shooting were real and the officers' actions were not racially motivated.
Absent his having any experience walking in the shoes of an officer, former President Clinton made this alarming statement on Dec. 12 during an interview with CNN: "There is not any question in Ferguson, whatever the findings of the Grand Jury, if the law enforcement officer had not gone after the man and felt compelled to shoot him, he would be alive." Aside from his alarming dismissal of a grand jury decision, the former president asserts his suspect expertise in tactical matters by concluding Officer Wilson arbitrarily pursued and shot the subject. Conspicuous in their absence from Clinton's remarks are: no threat assessment and no consideration of the risk factors and a totality of the variables. So what we get is just a judgment from a former president in desperate need of scenario-based training.
Drawing upon the theme of the recent Ice-Bucket Challenges, I'd like to issue a Training Challenge to Sharpton, Clinton, the biased news media, and all the self-righteous critics of law enforcement. The challenge would include a comprehensive briefing on the use-of-force continuum, and several low risk walk-throughs to teach them the basics. There would be no ambush scenarios, even though law enforcement is subject to them. Instead, they'd be suited up in full protective gear, with Simunition weapons and handcuffs, and exposed to low- to medium-risk scenarios.
Undoubtedly, they would fail to issue strong verbal commands. They would fail to make the proper sequencing of threat assessments. They would fail to assess the risk presented by their surroundings. They would fail to employ proper tactics or the appropriate level of force. In short, they would fail. This is understandable because we all know you can't manufacture experienced officers by running them through one day of scenario-based training. However, they would walk away with insight and perhaps new-found respect for the risks that confront law enforcement officers. And these risks do not include anyone's skin color.
To be fair, trainers also try to place officers in the shoes of those they may encounter. In scenario-based Simunition training, law enforcement officers learn to assess risks posed by subjects and situations objectively and quickly. There are no skin-color assessments.
Since Sharpton, Clinton, and others seem to be demanding that action be taken after the Ferguson and Staten Island incidents, why aren't they demanding more funding for scenario-based training? I don't think this training would have changed the outcome from either incident, but it does enlighten and benefit all who go through it.
Making officers sit in front of a computer watching a poorly crafted video on diversity is not the answer. Scenario-based training is. But it comes with a price that many law enforcement departments and agencies can't afford.
Somehow, I don't see Sharpton, Clinton, and others marching in front of a City Hall advocating for more funding for scenario-based officer training. Were they to accept my Training Challenge and experience the stress of a "funhouse," they'd realize that the potentially lethal risks an officer faces are anything but fun.