Dr. Bill Lewinski often notes in his public presentations that the average high school football player gets more training in his sport in his brief career than the average peace officer receives in use-of-force instruction across his or her entire working life.
Now a first-of-its-kind survey by Calibre Press has confirmed that dismal truth.
Recently, Calibre editors invited readers of its popular “Street Survival” newsletter to complete an anonymous Survey Monkey poll regarding their departmental training policies. Nearly 900 officers from small agencies to large participated, with these results:
Nearly two-thirds of officers said they are required by policy to shoot on the range with their sidearm only once (23.66%) or twice (37.66%) a year. Only about 8% have to shoot as often as monthly.
Qualification. Monthly official qualification with their sidearm is required for only 1.37%, while roughly 84% need to qualify only annually (46.81%) or semi-annually (37.24%).
The monthly requirement shrinks even more (to 0.91%) when it comes to “dynamic ‘shoot/don’t shoot’ scenario-type training.” One-quarter never have to experience such training, and over half (56.26%) do so only once a year or less often.
Close to 15% of officers said they are never required by policy to do “defensive/control tactics-type training.” For two-thirds (63.82%), such training is mandated only once a year (42.32%) or less (21.5%). Fewer than 2% must train hands-on monthly.
Monthly requirement virtually fades off the chart (at 0.57%) when it comes to training with “less-than-lethal weapons” such as TASERS, batons, and OC spray. Annual training predominates at over 55%. One in five officers trains less frequently than that, and over 10% never have to engage in this type of training.
A full breakdown of survey responses is available without charge at: CLICKING HERE.
Jim Glennon, Calibre’s director of training and lead instructor for its Street Survival Seminar, observes:
“The line is being pushed by the media and by critics like the Police Executive Research Forum that departments and academies are overly invested in ‘warrior’-type military training, spending too many hours on the range and teaching defensive tactics at the expense of emphasizing communication.
“In reality, as this survey shows, we’re just scratching the surface of use-of-force training, teaching the very barest fundamentals. When a quarter of departments never do dynamic force training and over half train with scenarios at most once a year, it is very disingenuous to claim that use-of-force training is over-emphasized.
“When officers over-react or under-react on the street, it’s usually because they have not been sufficiently conditioned to respond appropriately through realistic training under stress. What’s needed is not less training in this area but more.”
Dr. Lewinski, executive director of the Force Science Institute, adds:
“The public expectation is that law enforcement officers will perform flawlessly when thrust into life-or-death force encounters. But when these are the standards of practice and training demanded of officers by their departments, how can anything even approaching perfection reasonably be anticipated?
“Yes, conscientious officers will supplement the minimal requirements with training on their own time and dime. But that’s an approach for enhancing individual excellence, not a universal solution.
“Raising the use-of-force training bar by policy for all officers and designing training that truly reflects the challenges of the street should be the top priorities of any demands for police ‘reform.’ ”
Our thanks to Crawford Coates, Calibre Press publisher, for helping to facilitate this report.