With no intent do I want to seem as to brow bash Law Enforcement for doing their jobs when it comes to providing training. They are merely fulfilling their civic duty to the best of their ability and of course, abiding by their supervisor’s requests. Coming from serving as a WV Law Enforcement Officer for over 11 years in the capacity of WV State Police, Municipal Chief of Police and patrol officer, I can attest that the men and women in blue do their utmost best in fulfilling their civic duties.
Especially in today’s society, law enforcement has a tremendous amount of responsibilities. It is easy to overlook the officer’s burden of having to fulfill all their duties while having to succumb to their supervisor’s requests to provide training to the public. In today’s Law Enforcement community, you can clearly see how over-burdened our officers are and responsible for: Narcan administrator, Medic, Domestic Counselor, School Resource Officer, Regional Drug Eradication Officer, Special Response Team Member, Fugitive Recovery Officer, Crime Scene Resource Officer, Homicide Investigator, to name a few. In my experience, I have had to hold several of those titles simultaneously. Now add “Active Shooter” and “Threat Assessment” subject matter expert (SME) to those responsibilities. Now ask yourself, how much time does that Law Enforcement Officer have to dive into research and sift through the raw material to become a proficient instructor in the topic they were tasked to teach.
We have the tendency to lean towards having Law Enforcement conduct our training because at times, leadership tasks their people with a short deadline in finding training that is fast and cheap so they can meet a requirement by “checking the box” that they’ve done it. This is a problem that we, all too often, create ourselves because it was the last thing on their priority list. Additionally, specifically in workplaces, there is no profit when having to squeeze training into a work schedule so you are not paying over-time or losing an employee for a day when they could have been producing product for the company. We need to seriously consider (and ask ourselves): How much liability are we creating by doing this haphazard panic approach to schedule training for our organization? This is why organizations tend to seek out Law Enforcement to provide their training because it’s free, very short-lived (1 hr. to 2 hrs.) and they can say they went to the leading authority in emergency response when things don’t work out the way they wanted.
Awareness teaching involves a transfer of information. This often means following a pre-made lesson plan of objectives, performed in a step-by-step checklist fashion. It is abstract and impersonal. Many also accomplish teaching through videos, songs and catchy phrases. The information that is taught can often be found on websites and pamphlets. The student then hears this information, possibly takes an immediate test or regurgitates the information back, which supposedly defines “successful” learning, but what are the students taking with them?
Think of the last period of instruction you participated in that was conducted in this manner. What did you retain? Did the information cause you to make a profound change in your lifestyle? What do you remember today? Can you perform the skills taught? Looking at these “awareness Seminars” a bit closer as it pertains to Active Shooter training, what are the pros and cons to such training?
I have personally sat in as an attendee during multiple Active Shooter training from DHS, FBI and local law enforcement. Most of these trainings are around an hour to two hours in length. From my professional perspective here are some pro’s and con’s as it pertains to their training.
- Generally free
- Great to have local law enforcement visit your organization
- Builds relationship between first responders and staff
- Gives their perspective on how they will respond
- If an exercise is done the first responder gains knowledge on how to maneuver and access your facility
- Generally, good information as it pertains to “Run, Hide, Fight”
- Devotes too much time on statistics from past events (we know they happen and we know they are bad why to spend precious training time discussing statistics)
- Does not focus on prevention, identifying red flag behavior, reporting, mindset etc.
- Relies on catchphrases without explaining what they actually mean such as “situational awareness” and “see something say something”
- Does not explain the “Pathway to Violence” or explain “De-Escalation” steps/options if someone is on that pathway
- Does not explain the categories of Workplace Violence thus helping organizations identify vulnerabilities for each
- Reactionary training only
- Does not explain any lifesaving medical treatment that could save lives, such as how to apply a tourniquet if an Active Shooter event was to occur
- Does not discuss organizational crisis management planning needs
- Does not review or discuss organizational policy and procedures (as it pertains to Active Shooter or Workplace Violence)
- Does not conduct a risk or vulnerability assessment to incorporate within their training
- If an exercise is conducted staff become “role players” and gain no real training other than how to lay on the ground and pretend to be wounded.
- Does not address immediate, short term and long-term organizational recovery considerations if an Active Shooter event was to occur
We need to get away from the basic, quick and easy “awareness seminars” taken each and every year and get our organizations to understand and involved in hands-on reality-based training. The BSR training facility was founded on providing such reality-based training and has been doing so for nearly 50 years. BSR has developed emergency preparedness training that gives the participant a foundation on which to work from and confidence through the application of those learned skills in a stress-induced environment. You may be able to describe the basic process of an Active Shooter situation, or even how to deal with the situation post-event. That information can easily be found in the comfort of one’s home. So why attend an awareness type seminar class? What could that provide that is not readily available? IF new information is provided, is it provided in a manner that will make a profound change in the participants’ behavior or lifestyle? Anyone can teach because it’s a simple process of transferring information from one person to another, but to educate is truly a talent.