I have served as a state trooper in Texas for more than four decades. During that time, I was assigned as an EVOC instructor and adjunct instructor for the Texas Department of Public Safety Training Academy.
I have trained the mental aspects of emergency vehicle operations for many agencies across the country and over the next several articles, I want to share with you the mistakes I personally witnessed in training our troopers for emergency vehicle operation along with the price paid by young troopers because of my own incompetence.
Every honest and valuable trainer must rely on their own mistakes and successes and while I’ve had the honor to have some success in this great profession, that was only because of my own failures. My passion for emergency vehicle safety is driven by those failures.
Like many aspects of professional training in law enforcement, Law Enforcement Driver Training should be standard across the country but it is far from that. Large police agencies tout their extensive driver training programs, and many have the facilities, equipment and instructors to back up such claims. However, there are many smaller agencies that are at the mercy of the regional training academies. In surveying students in my “Driving Concern” Seminars I have found regional academies dedicate just 8 hours of driving around cones, in what are often “rented cars.”
The trainings are limited to less than 40 miles per hour and when a student has completed that training, they are given a false sense that they have been trained for the demands of responding to emergency calls on the street. After the initial training in the basic academy, very few agencies provide in-service training or have an annual driver qualification. Some of this thought process comes from the societal attitude that driving requires very little skill and nothing proves that more than the general licensing requirements across the country or what you observe everyday on the roadway.
Despite the issues our profession has seen behind the wheel of a car including the number one cause of line-of-duty deaths and injury in the last two decades, many cops have the capability to succeed in what has become a very dangerous activity.
The daily driving, oftentimes under stress, can mold an officer into driving like they breathe and if remained focused, very few problems can occur.
But the enemy of this daily activity is complacency. The longer we engage in an activity, the more complacent we can become.
Complacency is our enemy.
I am honored to be named as a columnist for Law Officer, focusing on EVOC Issues. Law Officer has long been on the front line of this very important issue. They launched Below 100 a decade ago and I have taught alongside one of the founders of that program, Travis Yates, who was one of the pioneers on this issue.
There is much more to discuss and I look forward to providing timely and life-saving information in the months to come here at Law Officer.
For additional information or to simply reach out, you can contact me here.
Garry Parker has served the citizens of Texas more than four decades in law enforcement and retired from the Texas Department of Public Safety in 2009. He holds a commission from the Texas Department of Public Safety as a Special Ranger. Garry served as a Law Enforcement Liaison and Instructor with the Texas Municipal Police Association and retired in 2020. Garry is certified as speaker, trainer and coach, through the Maxwell Leadership Team, the International Speakers Network, and the Texas Commission on Law Enforcement. Garry is a nationally recognized trainer and consultant in traffic safety, crash prevention, law enforcement tasks, and emergency vehicle operation. Garry is a motivational speaker, trainer and coach on communication and leadership. Garry has served as keynote speaker for many conferences around the country. He has been recognized for excellence in program development and presentation by the Texas Commission on Law Enforcement and nationally by Uniform Safety Education Officers Incorporated. Gary can be reached at: www.garryparkerandassociates.com