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Training Our Cops For Combat

Training Our Cops For Combat

SWAT Digest

If you read the world news headlines it’s easy to find articles about terrorist acts being committed in other countries and how the specific country’s military responded. This is a common theme all around the world. Terrorist group commits act – country’s selected military unit responds. Why is that? Because terrorists commit acts of violence that are, for all intents and purposes, acts of war.

The only reason we, in general, don’t label them as such, is because they aren’t acting on behalf of a government. While it’s no secret that many governments sponsor and support various terrorist organizations, those terrorist organizations are not given the authority to act on behalf of a specific government. So, it’s not “an act of war”. Here in the United States, we have a special problem that calls for a special solution: we define terrorism as a crime.

That means that our law enforcement professionals, and not the military, will be tasked to respond to and deal with terrorist acts. What’s the problem then? Our law enforcement professionals are not – as part of their academy or in-service training – prepared to act as combatants on a battlefield. They are trained as peace keepers; law enforcers; not soldiers in a war.

Here’s the irony: According to LtCol R. Gangle (USMC ret) in 2002, approximately 85% of our military deployments in the past four decades had been peace keeping missions. So, to me, this naturally begs the question: If our soldiers and our law enforcement professionals are both fulfilling the primary mission of peace keeping, then why is their training so radically different?

The answer, at least partially, lies in the recognition of this fact: men (and women) can be trained to commit acts of violence and acts of defense. It is a fact that acts of defense can be violent in and of themselves. However, the primary difference between war and peace keeping is that war mandates offensive violent actions. It requires attack.

Peace keeping requires constant vigilence while keeping all violent energy contained until such time as it is required to defend against an attack. Further, in peace keeping, the mandate is always to release as little of that violent energy as is necessary to repel or overcome the attack. “Using that minimum force which is necessary to affect the arrest” is a term often heard in law enforcement training.

Now, just as a barbarian cannot act civilized, but a civilized man can act like a barbarian, it’s unreasonable to expect that we can train peace keepers to train and operate within specific parameters and then expect them to shrug off all the limits they’ve learned when faced with acts of war. Our professional peace keepers in the United States – those police officers, deputies, federal agents, etc. – they have spent months and sometimes years training to perform their duties within the controls and restrictions of Constitutional Law, State, County and Local laws, and departmental guidelines.

They are regularly given reminders that all uses of force will be at least minimally investigated and that they (the LE professionals) will be held criminally and civilly liable if they use more force than is required.

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  • Photo_user_blank_big


    over 4 years ago

    Well, I maybe different in my response to this but as a former combat Soldier I have to say it's best that we keep the combat oriented thinking away from the police and sheriff departments because for the most part, they never come across a "terrorist" or someone wanting to blow up a large portion of the population. There are other scenarios but personally I feel less threatened by the fact I know cops are more peace keeping oriented than trying to run out with guns shooting up the bad guys and potentially innocent civi's. Well, this is a good article for thinking about and I've thought on this in the past when I was aiming to be a police officer but I didn't think my previous role as a fighter would go well in mixing in with as a person who is to keep the peace. One big difference between us and cops is we are trained to kill on spot if need be, cops are not. That and other big differences would bring more danger to the general public if we have LEO driving around in full mode ready to bring down a houses full of "terrorists" and bad guys.

  • Segway-police-unit-china_max50


    over 4 years ago


    This is a good response to the real threat out there. But it's pretty obvious to see that more and more American born folks are being labeled as terrorists for simple law infractions. Example, if your buddy's white bread kid becomes novice computer hacker in high school he will be labeled a cyber-terrorist. And the simple label of terrorist triggers a whole new set of rules. While it makes me happy to see a motion for improved responses to violent threats from the inside. Seeing where all of this is going makes me feel like the terrorists have already won.

  • Photo_user_blank_big


    over 4 years ago

    Outstanding article. Should be required reading for ALL police administrators and those who exercise authority over them. Dave Grossman would be proud! We are in fact warriors. Moreover, I love the fact that you do not hide or water down your Christian faith. There is NO disconnect between being a believer and our warrior ethos. Exodus 15:3 tells us, The Lord is a warrior, the Lord is His Name. When God's people, while walking in obedience, were threatened by terrorists, God had them wiped off the face of the earth. We as servant-warriors (law enforcement) must be trained and allowed to honorably answer our call to truly protect those we are entrusted with serving. Again, well done!
    Det. Sgt. M.C. Williams

  • Annual_line_inspection_035_max50


    over 4 years ago


    This is a great article. Every cop should read it. The only thing i take exception to is the term "minimum amount of force" I am fortunate that we do not hold our officers to a impossible standard such as this. We require that thier actions be "reasonable".......not minimum.

  • Bald-eagle-in-flight_860_max50


    over 4 years ago


    Bump rhood. If every agency trained their staff to be as proficient with their firearms (or more guns) as they were with their first aid, there may be a lot less crime. Seems like the PC version of policing is to give criminals on the street a teddy bear and a shoulder instead of the business end of a taser or glock and a pair of cuffs.

  • In_remembrance_of_oakland_pd_max50_max50_max50_max50_max50


    over 4 years ago


    A well written article that should be taken to heart by all officers, more especially those in command positions. An officer is only as good as the training they have or will recieve. Plan and train for the worst all the while hopeing for the best.

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