T Nation

Mandatory Training For LEO, Military, Security, Etc

The discussions in the Lethal Force thread got me thinking about a couple things.

Full disclosure: this will be part query for discussion, and part rant because it’s something I’m wrestling with at my company right now.

Should regular close-quarters combat/hand-to-hand/etc etc training be mandatory for those in LEO positions, the military, corrections, security, etc?

My standpoint? Yes. 100%. I’ll give some background from my perspective (incoming rant):

So I work in the security industry. Currently, loss prevention at the government liquor stores. The city I live in is not a fun place, and has for many, many years been rated as one of the top 3 most dangerous cities in all of Canada. We are regularly REQUIRED to arrest subjects, however it becomes a “damned if you do, damned if you don’t” mentality. There’s been a steady increase in violent resistance to our attempts at product retrieval and arrests, to the point where I went through a window recently and received a nice little neck laceration (luckily I pulled the guy with me and got a lovely choke and armbar combo until the cops arrived), another guy smashed his forehead into a doorframe, and just yesterday one of our guys got in shit because he failed to arrest someone he stated was under arrest. I ALMOST got in shit for my situation, but they quickly backed off because I had a potentially serious injury and it was all over the news. My scuffle could have gone a lot worse, but I have many years of training and was able to hold my own, which is not something I can say for everyone I work with.

The company is now calling for another use of force training session, which I know is just a way for them to legally cover their asses, but I’ve taken the use of force class required for handcuffing, and it’s an absolute joke. The techniques they teach you are ridiculous. My supervisor and I are fighting with his bosses now to justify the fact that, if they want us to be regularly arresting and handling people, we need more than a 6 hour class. The team needs regular, or at least semi-regular, classes.

Which brings me back to the main point. If I, in the measly security industry, have to deal with this level of crap, shouldn’t those in more dangerous positions be required even more to be highly prepared? Why is this not the case? I get frustrated with the high demand placed on those in positions of dangerous service, who then get in shit when things don’t go according to the perceived plan.

I recognize that everyone doesn’t like hand-to-hand training, or weapons training, or tactical drills, but hey, I don’t like going through windows, but sometimes it’s just part of the job.

Discuss!

Here in the US, what you described is a property crime and they don’t care. Stores forbid their employees from intervening. Few stores even have loss prevention. We’ve also seen a spike in aggravated assaults when the rare loss prevention person attempts to stop a shoplifter (knives, guns, pepper spray, and tasers).

The thieves get a slap on the wrist when they’re caught so they’re not encouraged to stop. They actually get more and more bold as they go because they realize they’re going to get away with it.

That’s problem number one with your situation.

Problem number two here in the US is that the general public wants us to hand out hugs and coddle people. I literally had a woman upset because an officer didn’t do anything to de-escalate her 17 year old daughter and stop her from running away from her grandma. The girl had just stabbed a classmate in the neck with a pencil. The mom was not the least bit upset about that; she was upset that the officer working a part time job at the school didn’t de-escalate her daughter. Are you kidding me!?

I think the reality is that if we were better trained to go hands on and deal with people then we’d actually do it. The public would cry police brutality and we’d listen. Sadly, here in the US, our policies and way of doing business are being impacted by the ignorant noise of groups like BLM.

Most of us signed up to chase bad guys and hold them accountable. That’s how you help the victims - justice, punishment to the offender. We don’t get to chase bad guys because it’s scary and dangerous (car chases). And then when we chase bad guys and hurt them, there’s a chance that you won’t get any support from your brass. They’ll throw you under the bus if necessary to make themselves look better.

It’s not confusing as to why we struggle to find good people. Why would anyone want to do this anymore? Policies prevent us from doing the fun stuff and even when we do, we risk our careers. I’d love for things to be the way you describe with the need for more training, but we spend more time getting trained (see, beat over the head with the dead horse) about how to talk to people who are in crisis than we do anything else.

Here’s a new initiative we’re doing… If I work a felony DV case then I have to write the case and make the arrest if I can find the bad person. I have to go over a Lethality Assessment with the victim to see if they’re at a high risk for future domestic violence. If they “screen” according to the protocol then I call a battered women’s shelter and have them talk to someone about their situation. In 24-48 hours, someone is now required to re-contact the victim and give them a packet of information. Oh, I forgot that I’m also required to give them a handout with resources the day of the report. I also give them a handout that tells them to call the domestic violence advocate the next day (this supposedly helps with prosecution). After the first follow-up, someone (an officer) has to go back out in 30 days for another follow up.

From my experience, 80+% of DV cases go nowhere because the victim doesn’t care. They call, they report it, they want him arrested, and then they pick him up from jail. It’s an epic waste of time, but we’re now going to waste several more hours of our time on follow up. If people want to gripe about how their tax dollars are wasted, look at this program. (There were 83 cases that could qualify last month alone)

We’re basically being asked to do everything except be cops.

I guess to summarize your query, yes, we need it. But we won’t get it due to public perception and time.

4 Likes

I’ve got a lot of thoughts on this, especially after just getting done with training.

I’d love a perfect world where cops are proficient grapplers. I’m sure striking can be useful too, especially footwork and defense, but it seems like grappling would be the better of the two skills to truly develop, especially when you’re already carrying striking weapons. I’d absolutely support more training in this realm.

There’s a few problems though, above and beyond the deeper problems pointed out by @JMaier31. I’m speaking mostly of practical considerations.

First, it takes time to reliably control most people in uncontrolled circumstances with just your bare hands. Quite a lot, in fact. Especially if attributes are not on your side. How much time do we expect police and security workers to invest? Who pays for it? Is the expectation that they do it on their own time and own dime as a prerequisite for getting the job? Or do we pay cops to train grappling for three hours per week on the clock?

Second, it takes willingness to go through the process. I’m sure cops and security workers will probably have more general willingness than the general population, but what do you do about the otherwise great police candidate who isn’t interested in training to any level of true proficiency? Not everyone’s down to spend their time getting repeatedly crushed, smothered, and peppered with bruises.

Third, related to the above point, is the risk of injury. Training can be very safe if you’re experienced, conscientious and have good instruction, but a room full of young cops looking to out-alpha each other is a recipe for all kinds of avoidable injuries on the mats. What does all of this do to the already thin candidate pool?

Fourth is the instructor supply. I’m sure plenty of people would be willing to teach, but I’d question how many are truly qualified. Out of the six BJJ schools I’ve trained at or with their students, there’s only one whose head instructor inspires my confidence in his ability to teach people to handle real violence. I think the sport takeover of BJJ means that you can no longer expect a BJJ black belt to be an authority on real hand-to-hand violence, which wasn’t always true. Not to make this a sport vs violent BJJ conversation, but it is worth pointing out that simply going to your nearest BJJ school and taking class may not be the best path to proficiency in real encounters.

I’d be surprised if someone hasn’t already done this, but it seems like an LEO curriculum could be developed. I’m not talking about a couple of classes, but a long-term path to answering most of the problems LEO’s would want grappling to solve. Mat time spent learning “BJJ” stuff like lasso guard is not preparing you for any likely encounter off of the mats, which is why going to your nearest BJJ gym will probably involve learning a lot of shit you’ll never, ever use on the job.

The school I spoke of above addresses this well, albeit for a civilian. Nothing taught at the white and blue belt level (which encompasses four to six years of consistent training for most) is inapplicable to a violent encounter. The only purpose of mat time during this period is preparation for violence with your bare hands, be it in a ring or in uncontrolled circumstances off of the mats. That’s the goal. Period. Sport-only techniques come much later. You’re going to spend a lot more time on your feet than you will at a sport school.

This man produces people who are capable. They roll great too. His process produces people who are ready to put up. It changes you.

For law enforcement and/or security, a similar curriculum with modifications could produce some really capable people too. Maybe more focus on baton tactics, cuffing tactics, training with similar encumbrance and gear on, and making it as close to a simulation of real life as can be safely trained. I don’t really know, I’m not a cop. But there’s got to be people out there who have both the LEO experience and the mat time to be real authorities on what is worth training and what is not. Listen to those people.

Of course the downside of all of this is that it may make unreasonable people even more unreasonable when it comes to what sort of feats we expect our LEO’s to perform on the job.

Why did you shoot that guy? He only had a knife! Why didn’t you kimura him like I saw that other cop do on youtube?

1 Like

This would be awesome but I don’t know any department that doesn’t feel understaffed already.

If this occurs on duty then it becomesa worker’s comp claim. The employer doesn’t want that. I have a co-worker who was training on his own time and suffered a broken hand due to an inexperienced grappling partner.

To the original poster, if you are trying to sell it to your company brass, I would use liability as your main selling point. Not having our people properly trained is a huge potential liability - one of your guys gets seriously injured and sues the employer, or one of your guys ends up in court as the target of an ‘excessive force’ or whatever you Canucks call it. ‘Were you properly trained in how to deal with this situation? How much training? When was the last time you attended training?’

1 Like

Same here in Canada. I actually had a guy shrug and go, “Okay” when I said he was under arrest, then he just let me cuff him. I saw him walking around the next day.

To be fair, I do believe verbal deescalation is extremely important. I’ll toot my own horn here and express that I’ve worked long and hard on my verbal skills over the years, which has really helped me turn some sticky situations around for the better. BUT, it won’t work every time, and eventually you’ll end up in a physical confrontation, and unfortunately verbal skills may not help you. Which again, we’re brought back to the need for “combat” readiness.

Agreed; striking for movement, grappling for closing, and I would actually argue some Silat or eskrima for honing baton use and understanding the danger of edged weapons.

I don’t think it needs to be that extreme. I’d be content knowing that my security partners or the cops helping me out have been training once a week, or even once every couple weeks. There’s probably a lot of things cops need that citizens gripe they “have to pay for”, but if it’s necessary for you to do your job well, as I believe hand-to-hand training is, and you WANT cops, then deal with the fact that you’re “paying for it”.

It doesn’t matter if he isn’t interested, because it becomes mandatory training. I’m not interested in writing reports (or going through windows), but sometimes it’s just part of the job. And if he truly isn’t interested, then he can simply turn up to the mandatory weekly training, go through the motions, and move on with life. But at LEAST he has exposure to some hand-to-hand training, and that eventually breeds habitual reflex or recognition. Not as quickly as the person who trains hard, but still.

This is exactly what I mean, and would be super useful. Unfortunately, at least in the security industry, you go through a 1-day crash course on how things should “perfectly” go, and that’s it. No follow up, no nothing. It’s bullshit, especially because you’re then expected to DO all those things you “learned”. I’m sure it’s not that different for LEO (but I could be wrong, don’t want to shit on any cops).

As an aside, @twojarslave, you BJJ school sounds wonderful. Very similar to where I used to train back home. I seriously miss it.

1 Like

Most people probably already think we are. Many departments are already understaffed because of thin candidate pools or inadequate funding. More cops training on the clock means less police work on the clock. In a perfect world with unlimited resources, I’m on board.

Not really, because the person can just do something else. Now you need to hire a replacement who may not actually be out there.

My perfect world of unlimited resources model would be generous mat time made available to each department at a well-qualified academy, paid for by tax dollars. Or an equivalent set up for all LEO’s across agencies to attend, always under qualified instruction.

Some minimum baselines can be established, proficiency milestones, etc. Everyone has to know a little and attend with certain frequency. For the guys who really want to put the time in, make it paid and make it quality.

BJJ uses a belt system, but what those belts mean varies by school. At my instructor’s school, all of their blue belts are a handful. They all have a real skillset that they know how to apply. It far exceeds the average person, and it is all oriented towards fighting. These are people who’ve been training 2-4 years, depending on their own pace.

Their purple belts are where you start talking about some REALLY capable people. Male and female, big and small. Browns and blacks are just wrecking balls once they get their hands on you. Rolling with the head instructor is like going up against Darth Vader with a pocketknife.

If quality mat time is made available, it could be part of an LEO’s career path. Its not reasonable to expect a rookie cop to be a blue or purple belt equivalent, but you’d end up with a lot more of them if quality training was made available and incentives to train given.

Imagine when a big chunk of your 10 year veterans are purple belts, but with fucking baton and handcuff training too. That I think could really improve a lot of outcomes.

This x A MILLION.

Funding and logistics are where I know my argument falls apart, and I agree with you. Trying to find a way to ensure all cops are kept up to date on unarmed combat would be a logistical nightmare.

Dear God, this would be beautiful.