(Graphic by Sgt. Charles E. Humes Jr.)
FEATURED IN TRAINING
I cannot confirm this, but it’s rumored that Texas is doing fairly well economically. I can confirm that it’s not a rumor that the Midwestern United States is not doing well. At the risk of sounding painfully obvious, everyone’s broke. Every village, every city, every county -- everyone! Law enforcement training budgets have been slashed to near zero. However, violent assaults on law enforcement officers continue to rise at an unprecedented rate.
After seeing a miniscule amount of tactical training taking place in the Midwest, I decided to do something about it. I would take the Critical Combative Concepts presentation that I have made at the last four annual conferences of the International Law Enforcement Educators and Trainers Association in Chicago (ILEETA) and expand it into a daylong program. That didn’t mean that I’d just add filler. It meant that I’d add carefully selected critical concepts that would synergistically augment those already in the core program. I would hold a seminar to present the program, invite as many departments as possible, and do it all for free. No obligation, and no strings attached.
You might be saying to yourself, “What? Are you crazy? Do you know how much work that will be, and how many hours of your life it will consume?” Well, actually no. I didn’t when I first committed myself to this project. Not only did I not know, I really didn’t care. What I did know and care about was this. Too many of our officers are being thrown to the wolves, without proper equipment or the training to face the threats they are encountering. I’ll be the first to admit that I don’t have the answer to everything. Nevertheless, I’m sitting on a great deal of tactical training -- some of which may be a lifesaver someday -- and I want to pass it along to other officers.
Finding a Location
My first obstacle was to find a suitable location. After a little digging and some phone calls, I found the right person to help. Lt. Tressa Johnson of the University of Toledo Police Department was incredibly supportive of the idea. Assisted by UTPD Lt. Brett Weaver, they made arrangements to use the University’s Collier Auditorium at their Medical Science Campus. Like most things, this had its positives and its negatives. The good: The Collier Auditorium is the most incredible teaching venue I’ve ever set foot in. The projector screen is the size of a small movie theatre, the stadium stacked seating is incredibly comfortable and gave everyone a good view, and the wireless mic sound system completed the picture of excellence. The only negative, and something I learned from this experience, is that medical students do not get all the vacation breaks and holidays that other college students get. Thus, the auditorium is only available a very few days a year. I started this project in early August. The auditorium was to be empty and available on Dec. 21. Granted, four days before Christmas was not the ideal day to hold a law enforcement training seminar. But that’s what we had available, so I ran with it.
The seminar went as planned, and 150 officers from 46 federal, state and municipal law enforcement agencies from Indiana, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Michigan and Canada attended. Had we been able to hold the seminar earlier in the year, the attendance would have at least doubled, if not tripled. I had countless inquiries from officers that informed me that they really wanted to attend, but due to the large number of officers on vacation that pre-Christmas holiday week, they were unable to do so.
What was covered in the Critical Combative Concepts seminar? Many of the concepts from my articles previously published here on LawOfficer.com, and other concepts that will be the subject of future articles. With more than 600 slides and 60-plus video clips to illustrate my points, the pace was fast and relentless. I also incorporated all five tenets from Law Officer Magazine’s Below 100 Initiative into the presentation: Wear Your Seatbelt, Wear Your Vest, Watch Your Speed, WIN-What’s Important Now, and Remember: Complacency Kills. When you consider all the variables of danger that we have no control of, we must control those that we can. These are five that have been identified as absolute lifesavers of officers, and we do have control over them.
As simple as it is, another concept that I highly anticipated introducing was the thumbs-forward grip with a semi-auto pistol. Even though it’s more than 20 years old, for whatever reason, this grip has not made it to the law enforcement mainstream in Northwest Ohio. I know that learning this grip from Dave Spaulding improved my shooting more than anything else I’ve ever done.
So what’s the point of this article? Actually, it’s more of a request for other tactical trainers and training companies across the country. If that doesn’t work, hopefully they’ll consider it a challenge (we all know that very few cops won’t answer a direct challenge) to follow my lead.
Tactical trainers and training companies, if the economy is terrible where you are, which is just about everywhere. If the local police departments can’t afford to provide their people with adequate training, which is just about everywhere. Do something about it! If you really care about our officers, pick an economically depressed area (they aren’t hard to find) and do a seminar for free.
Ok, maybe I am crazy. But I didn’t enter the police-training arena strictly for profit. I entered it because I was less than satisfied with the quality of training I received in my basic police academy. I also knew that changes desperately needed to be made to overcome the deeply imbedded, politically driven training dogma that to this day exists in some areas of the country. An old Apple computer commercial said it best: “The people who are crazy enough to think they can change the world are the ones who do.”
Trainers, the economy will get better. When it does, if you wish to do so, you can go back to strictly for-profit training. In the meantime, why not give up a few days worth of golf or boating or whatever, organize and put on a free seminar and share your knowledge with those who need it most?
I believe that the Below 100 Initiative is an achievable goal. When we reach that goal in the near future. I’ll be able to look in the mirror and know that I helped to train a large group of officers, which may help achieve that goal. Why not join me?
I’d like to reiterate my thanks to: the University of Toledo, the University of Toledo Police Department, Lt. Tressa Johnson, Lt. Brett Weaver, LawOfficer.com for helping to promote it, and thanks to all who attended.
And yes, until the economy turns around, we are planning to hold more free seminars at the Collier Auditorium. Watch for their announcement at www.CriticalCombativeConcepts.com.
For more information on the official Below 100 Initiative, visit www.Below100.com.