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Monday, June 8, 2015

Officers and Coaches (Techniques for Improving Training Safety)

Putting role players into a position
of coaching changes the perspective.
“Coaches do not defeat officers but rather create an environment to win. Coaches do challenge officers and make them work for their success.” These phrases are not from a book on coaching but are the words of George T. Williams, the director of training for Cutting Edge Training. Mr. Williams was recently instructing the West Central Minnesota Law Enforcement program in the city of Ottertail.

He is talking about why he refers to police officers in tactical training classes as either officers or coaches. Traditionally in this type of training, the instructor divides the class into groups of two—with one officer acting as police officer and the other acting in the role of a suspect or opponent. In a weapon retention drill, for example, the suspect tries to get the training firearm out of the officer’s holster, and the officer practices techniques to prevent the suspect from getting control of the gun. We know that this type of training is critically important but can be high risk.

Over a decade ago, Cutting Edge Training instituted the “coach concept” for the officer playing the suspect, and they have seen a decrease in training injuries. It changes the perspective of the officers. The coach officers are instructed on when to stop a scenario and how to critique mistakes by “breaking it down” into the tactical steps. And the coaches immediately catch the training going off script as they are on the receiving end of what’s happening. When this happens, the coach and the instructor immediately reset the scene and run the drill again to allow the officer to learn from the mistake and work through the drill again until the officer achieves a successful outcome.

I was lucky enough to attend Cutting Edge’s class on Force Response Civil Liability Prevention for Police Officers and Managers. The class was outstanding, and Mr. Williams and I kept each other busy before class on breaks talking about how to reduce training injuries. When he explained the coaching concept for the suspect officer, I envisioned this being a component in the Training Safety Officer (TSO) program. It doesn’t seem like much of a change, but this simple change in perspective can have big effects.

I thank the West Central Minnesota Law Enforcement Training group and Otter Tail County Chief Deputy Stacy Paulseth for allowing me to attend.

Remember:

                                    Responder Safety = Public Safety



Up next: The Nisswa Fire Department “Water Mule”

In the meantime, stay safe and be careful.



Rob

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