ILEETA is the largest worldwide organization of police instructors. The acronym stands for International Law Enforcement Educators and Trainers Association. Every year this organization hosts the premier conference for in-service education for police instructors.
Sometimes it’s tough for instructors to take classes because they are always teaching. This conference provides LE instructors with the ability to obtain multiple additional instructor certifications in a wide variety of disciplines at a single location over the course of a week. In total, over 150 classes are offered, almost all of them geared for instructors.
On April 16-21 of this year, I was pleased to attend my fifth ILEETA conference in suburban Chicago. I know that not every instructor has the opportunities for additional training that I do. It is for that reason that I am writing this. Below is a summary of the learning points and notes I took in my various classes. The notes I took were for my own reference. If I already knew the information, I didn’t write it down. Hence the notes are not a complete summary of each class, only a list of information that I thought was new or interesting. Some classes were unremarkable. I did not take notes on those. Some classes revealed confidential information. I did not report that here either.
I hope that my fellow instructors and practitioners can benefit from this knowledge. All of the information contained in this paper s open-source and non-classified.
WHEN THE SMOKE CLEARS- Preparing officers for the aftermath of a shooting
This class was taught by John Bostain, John is a program specialist for the Federal Law Enforcement Training Center. His class primarily dealt with the issues an officer faces AFTER pulling the trigger. Most of these lessons are equally applicable to the armed citizen as well.
– Police Post-Shooting policies should be written with the goal of finding out what happened during the incident. Most agencies’ policies are simply “incident management” policies. They deal with procedural issues at the scene and nothing more. Better policies should be created to incorporate the best scientific protocols for finding the truth.
– 90% of police agencies fail to train on post-shooting procedures
– Officers’ biggest concern after a shooting is knowing what is going to happen to them during the course of the investigation. Policies should include this information.
– Officers should immediately issue a “public safety” statement that is focused on these issues and these alone:
- Are you injured?
- Any other people injured?
- What direction did you fire your weapon?
- Any suspects at large and their descriptions?
- What weapons were involved?
- Are you aware of any evidence that needs to be preserved?
- Did you see any witnesses?
All other questions should be delayed until the officer has spoken to his legal representative.
– Officers should then be ORDERED not to speak to anyone else about the incident. They should furthermore be ORDERED to obtain legal counsel before answering any additional questions.
– Officers’ weapons will need to be seized as evidence. They should be given a replacement immediately. The best practice is to do a “weapon exchange” rather than a seizure.
– There should be a mandatory medical exam to ensure they are uninjured.
– Officers should know who they can have privileged conversations with. They shouldn’t reveal any details to anyone unless that person is an attorney, clergy member or other source that is prohibited from being a witness against the officer.
– All scientific evidence shows that an officer will make a more accurate statement after they have slept. Everyone is different, but 1-3 sleep cycles should be allowed before an interview.
– Officers should return to the scene and do a walk through with their attorney before the interview. This walk through will help officers better remember what actually happened. Studies show that officers will have a 50-70% increase in their recall abilities after conducting the walk through.
– Interviews should be conducted in a “soft room”, not an interrogation room. Any officer likely has negative experiences in an interrogation room. Those experiences might distract the officer and create a less accurate account.
– Memory is enhanced if officers are asked what happened in REVERSE chronological order.
– People assume shooters see everything that happened in the incident. This is not true. The brain does not work that way. The brain focuses on and processes information in order of priority. When someone is attacking the officer, the brain is focused on life saving actions, not the relatively inconsequential details that investigators want. Not knowing basic descriptive information or other details is not an indication of deception on the part of the officer.
– Another issue with memory is that the brain doesn’t do a good job processing information that is unexpected. The brain attempts to take information and sort it into categories of past experiences for quicker processing. If the information doesn’t fit with experiences the officer has already acquired, his memory will likely be skewed.
DESIGNING STRESS EXPOSURE TRAINING
This class was taught by another FLETC instructor, Terry Wollert. He is a researcher for FLETC’s training innovation division. The class was about how best to design training so that an officer can perform under stressful realistic conditions. The lessons involved are not law enforcement specific. They are also useful for anyone who designs scenario oriented training in any capacity.
– One of the first things that fail when anyone experiences high levels of stress is appropriate decision making abilities. Training should be geared towards making critical decisions while under high stress.
– FLETC research indicates that: Acute stress is different from chronic stress. Stress is perceived differently by all people. What one person considers stressful may not bother another. Soldiers and police officers experience different kinds of stress in firefights.
– The best return on investment for conducting high stress training is the investment in a camera. FLETC videotapes every training session and finds that the after action scenario reviews are exceptionally important for the student in understanding what happens in a stressful event.
– It’s better to do a fewer number of scenarios in training with better debriefs than a large number of scenarios without adequate debriefs.
– FLETC research indicates that the majority of life threatening encounters occur in low light and at a distance of 15-20 feet away. They happen quickly. Training scenarios should be structured to reflect these realities.
– Training should follow the following order:
1) Information should be presented about proper procedures and the body’s adaptation to stress
2) Skills should be acquired in a static and isolated fashion
3) Students then should have a graduated increase in exposure to stress while practicing the skills they had previously learned.
4) The final element of training is to “stress inoculate” the trainee by attempting to create the most realistic, complex, and stressful scenarios possible.
If training doesn’t follow this logical progression, optimal learning doesn’t occur.
– “We are good at teaching officers WHAT to think, but not so good at teaching them HOW to think.”
– Three step Decision Training Model:
1) Identify a decision to be trained
2) Design a drill with a cognitive trigger
3) Use Decision Training to train the decision
– The following factors can be manipulated in scenario based training to increase/decrease stress:
1) Number and type of attackers
2) Amount of information received
3) Presence of secondary threats
4) Number of force options allowed
5) Number of Victims and Witnesses
6) Resources (backup, visibility, etc.) available
7) Anger and volatility of role players (more anger creates more stress)
– Dealing with exceptionally angry people raises stress levels higher than any other factor in scenario based training
– During de-briefing, it is best to allow students to speak as much as possible. The best process to take is to allow students to:
1) Identify Actions they took
2) Identify strengths
3) Get feedback on weaknesses
4) Identify alternative solutions
– Learning occurs during feedback, not during the scenario itself.
– When studying physiologic indicators (Heart Rate, Blood Pressure, Cortisol), there was no difference in stress levels measured between those who did well in scenarios and those who failed.
– All students will perform predictably worse on the first scenario of the day as compared to all others. Instructors should be aware of this tendency and not judge students too harshly on their first evolution. Another way to handle this problem is to make everyone’s first scenario artificially easy.
– After scenario training, it usually takes 1-2 hours for heart rates and blood pressure to return to baseline levels
– Heart rate is not a good measure of stress levels. Psychological stress-related heart rate increases are not the same as physical ones.
– Students’ perceptions of events in scenario training will be dramatically different than reality. De-briefers should be aware of this and use video to show students what they actually did.
– Researchers studied Federal agents who were returning to the job after being deployed in combat in the Middle East. They found the combat-seasoned agents performed better overall in scenarios and were more decisive in their decision making process. They also found that the combat –experienced agents were more likely to use excessive force in the scenarios. The instructors stressed the need for some type of transitional program to help deployed officers make a better transition to the realities of civilian law enforcement tasks.
THE HUMAN WEAPON AND THE ECONOMICS OF VIOLENCE
The class was taught by Tony Blauer, a name that most people in the training world would recognize. Tony is a pioneer in the area of researching spontaneous assaults and the body’s reaction to stress and fear. The class was about the research the Tony has conducted over the years and the rationale behind creating a comprehensive and effective defensive tactics program.
– Most failures in a police defensive tactics situation are a result of a failure in training and in administration, not failings by the individual officers involved.
– Every Fight has three components:
- The fight against yourself
- The fight against your attacker
- The fight against IA, the courts, and the media
Most police defensive tactics programs are geared (either overtly or subconsciously) towards winning fight number 3. If programs are designed around courts and media concerns, they are not likely to be effective against the other two fights.
– “The pursuit of perfect technique is the single biggest hindrance to effectiveness in an actual street fight.” Street fights seldom involve perfect techniques.
– Look at most police or martial arts training. The training doesn’t involve context. It is just repeated static repetitions of a certain technique. That not only is less effective, it creates negative consequences.
If you use weapon retention training for example, you’ll see that it starts with the bad guy grabbing the officer’s gun. In training, the officer has actually practiced letting someone grab his gun 10,000 times over the course of his career. That creates negative consequences.
– “Stimulus/Response” in martial arts training is bullshit. The action will always beat the reaction. Thus people reacting to an attack have most likely already lost. The whole idea of “Put me in a headlock and I’ll tell you how to get out of it” is a poor way to train. It works in training, but not on the street because of the action/reaction issue. It should never get to that point. Officers instead should be trained to recognize an incoming headlock and learn to intercept it.
– Blauer favors training the “2 seconds before the fight” by integrating pre-assault indicators and interceptive responses.
– Police training should focus on dealing with the 3% of the population that will attack the officer to kill him or facilitate escape. Training for this group won’t hurt the officers’ response to compliant suspects, but training solely for the compliant suspect makes an officer vulnerable to the 3%er.
– He recommended a book called “Extreme Fear” by Jeff Wise
– Flinches have 3 triggers: visual, auditory, and tactile
– Everyone flinches the same way by moving away from danger, inhaling, facing the threat, and raising hands.
– Blauer favors training from the flinch response…using recognition of a flinch as a cognitive trigger to attack.
– All fights are dangerous, but the ambush is the most dangerous. If we don’t train to defeat the ambush or surprise attack, we aren’t giving people skills to survive the most dangerous events they may face.
– Creating distance in a fight is often advocated in many fighting systems. The best way to create distance is to do something that drives the attacker back rather than you moving away.
PREVENTING/RESPONDING TO A LARGE DISTURBANCE
The class was instructed by Dan Marcou, a retired police lieutenant who had a career of managing large crowds as his agency’s Crowd Control Commander. It covered characteristics of large crowds, management techniques, and how to survive if things go bad.
– Commands cannot be heard in a riot because of the extraneous noise. The instructor advocated placing two officers in front of the line, adjusting their spacing and the way they are holding their batons. Then the line could emulate the desired spacing and orientation without needing verbal commands.
– Becoming physically taxed is a reality if officers have to traverse long distances on foot to reach the disturbance site. The instructor suggested alternating 10 walking steps with 10 “double time” steps to maintain normal breathing patterns and still arrive promptly.
– Don’t rush in to arrest members of the crowd without proper support. The people who are most involved and most in need of arrest will stay until the very end, giving you ample opportunity to arrest them later.
– Crowd controllers should videotape everything
– To disperse a crowd, first give the lawful order, then display grenades, then throw smoke. If the crowd doesn’t disperse, follow the smoke with chemical agents.
– Once the crowd begins moving, officers should advance and hold the territory abandoned by the rioters
– Arrest teams that go pat the lines should number 4 officers. Two should advance ahead of the others. All 4 should be pointing another direction to make the target think he’s not the focus of interest. The first two officers walk past the target and then quickly turn around as the 2nd pair reaches the target. All 4 then make the arrest and move the suspect back behind the lines.
– The more professional and well-practiced a team appears, the less likely that they will be attacked by the crowd.
– When a belligerent approaches the police line and needs to be arrested, officers wait until the suspect is within touching distance. When he is, one officer grabs each of the suspect’s shoulder/arm simultaneously and throw him behind the line for the arrest teams to handle.
– Fleeing in front of a crowd incites them to greater violence. If retreat is necessary, it should be in an orderly fashion.
– If officers are surrounded by the crowd, they should form up into a diamond formation for mutual protection and use the diamond to cut through the crowd to safety.
– It is important to establish as much of a personal relationship with each crowd member as possible. Officers working the crowd should attempt to constantly be engaging in speech with as many members of the crowd as possible.
– Never express personal opinions to crowd members or use profanity
– Never get hooked by provocations. Professional protesters will bait you to act. One sign of a trained technique of a professional protestor is that he will raise his hands straight up in the air when he talks. It draws more attention to him as well as limits the police ability to grab his hands.
– Understanding Crowd behavior:
- Individuals Types of people who make up the crowd
- Impulsive and Lawless (the miscreant)- monitor him and arrest as soon as possible
- Supportive Type- people on the periphery cheering and watching but not participating
- Resister- Anarchists who use the riot at hand to cause chaos in an already existing riot. They will be wearing costumes and backpacks and act in coordination to cause problems. They have no real relation to the protest occurring.
Crowd members might act violently toward the resisters, beware of that and be ready to make arrests.
- Suggestible- 90% of the crowd who are just followers and go with the mood
- Yielder- person who hangs back until everyone is involved before taking action
- Psychopath- completely unpredictable
- Types of Crowds
– No officer should ever act alone in a crowd
– Stay alert for entrapment attempts
– Watch the police station for the next event. If you arrest 100 people, 300 will be coming to your station to bail them out.
OFFICER ROADKILL ON THE INFORMATION SUPERHIGHWAY
Valerie Van Broklin, a former prosecutor, taught this class about the difficulties police officers occur when posting information to websites or social media outlets.
– Police administrators provide proactive policies, guidelines and training about every issue in law enforcement…except officer internet usage. Administrators tell officers to “just use common sense” when making internet postings. That would be absurd advice for any other police subject matter, yet it is the norm for administrative treatment of internet postings.
– Everything that is considered “common sense” by experienced officers is actually a trained technique. A person who is not a police officer or who is a rookie officer does not have the same “common sense” as a veteran officer. Telling an officer to “just use common sense” without additional training is being criminally negligent.
– In an employer/employee relationship. The First Amendment of the Constitution protects the employees’ rights to discuss work related matters if the issue is 1) about a public concern AND 2) Expressed as a private citizen. If both are true, the employee’s speech may have some protection.
– Speech by a public employee is not protected if the employee is acting in his role as a public official
– The First Amendment tests are the same whether the speech is verbal or written on the internet.
– With regards to Fourth Amendment protections, the court has decided that with regards to privacy, the officer must consider it private AND it must be considered private by societal norms in order to merit protection.
– Largent v. Reed- Plaintiffs in lawsuit request discovery in a civil suit of defendant’s Facebook username and password. Because it was a civil suit where constitutional rights don’t apply, the information was provided.
– Nixon v. Houston- 1st amendment case – Even if both of above tests are passed, the Department’s competing interests of public perception is strong. Officer can still be disciplined for public speech if it is harmful to the department.
– Most judges and prosecutors deciding these issues are not Generation X or Generation Y and don’t have the same view of privacy as the younger officers using the technology. Each generation has a different view of reasonable expectation of privacy.
– Policies and procedures must also be developed to deal with officers’ personal cell phones carried while on duty. Attorneys are subpoenaing records of officers cell phones to look for information beneficial to their clients
– Training must also address the actions of officers’ spouses and friends, educating them of the danger some internet posts place the officers in.
– Criminal defense attorneys are also asking prosecutors for any internet postings that would impeach their credibility as witnesses. Prosecutors must provide this. In civil cases there is even less privilege with regard to denying attorneys this information.
Terrorist Methodologies and Interdiction Tactics
Retired police officer and Special Forces operator Kevin Gors provided this update on the latest terrorist tactics. He was assisted by famed author John Weisman.
– Terrorism is a TACTIC used by small groups against superior or larger groups. Terrorists shoot, bomb, or kidnap. Terrorists have a very simple message “Do what we want you things will get worse.”
– Terrorists usually know what they are doing and have a rational basis for their target selection. Violence is not applied haphazardly randomly.
– We tend to think in short term (election cycle). Terrorists have a longer view, commonly planning 50-60 years out or longer.
– The instructors recommended the website www.planetdata.net as the best overall website for counterterrorism information
– The nation involved in the largest amount of espionage, hacking, and cyber terrorism is France. North Korea is second and China is third. High level business people traveling in France can expect to have their emails, internet usage, and phone calls tapped by the government.
– The majority of current cyber terrorism consists of short duration data grabs. It is only a matter of time before a large terrorist organization hires numerous French or Chinese high level hackers to target our government services or power grids. We are virtually unprotected in this sphere. Al-Qaida has had commonly available, written plans in place since 2002 that describe the targeting of power plants, water plants, and the electrical grid via cyberwarfare.
– A recent trend in terrorist bombings (currently used in Africa) is the coordinated throwing of hand grenades by multiple terrorists in multiple locations at the same time. Hand grenade terrorist attacks are extremely popular in Africa and the Middle East and will likely be exported to the west.
– Suicide bombings are essentially a response to high levels of security. If security levels are effective, no other bombs are likely to be effective. When nothing else works, the terrorist send a suicide bomber. That’s why we haven’t seen many suicide bombings in the US. Our society is open and has poor security. Terrorists don’t need to use suicide bombers.
– Terrorist kidnappings are on the rise. This is mostly a result of the increase in failed states and lack of governmental interdiction. Kidnappings in Mexico are continually increasing at a rate of 20%.
– Shootings are now becoming rare as sole terrorist attacks. Shooting is still a popular tactic, but it is now being combined with bombings and swarm attacks.
– In Asia, shooting of aircraft is becoming more popular. The trend will likely continue here because terrorists get have easy access to weapons here and shooting planes creates a large effect for a minimal expenditure.
– Al-Qaida runs a terrorist training university on the internet designed to provide Self Actuated Lone Wolf terrorists with bombing and shooting information. Terrorist organizations are spending large amounts of money to recruit lone wolf terrorists via websites and social media. Environmental rights terrorist organizations (ALF, ELF) are also relying extensively on this tactic.
– In both actual terrorist hostage situations (Beslan, etc.) and in their plans, there has never been a situation where a plan existed to allow hostages to live. In all plans, the hostages die. These plans consist of making the crime look like a “normal” crime to delay the police response so as to build fortifications and get media coverage. In all plans and events, law enforcement officers, important officials, and strong men being held hostage will be immediately killed.
– White separatist terrorists are still a major problem in the USA. Mexican Cartel terrorism (and Los Zetas) is also a growing concern. Cartel kingpins try to escape the violence by running to the USA. The Zetas and competing cartels come here to hunt them down. The Zetas were trained by US Special Forces personnel and use self-proclaimed “Al-Qaeda Tactics”.
– NYPD has identified 7 formal indicators of terrorist activity:
1) Surveillance- one of the weakest indicators and the easiest to detect
2) Elicitation- gathering information about the target
- Generally open source or obtained by terrorists posing as employees
3) Security Testing
4) Acquiring Supplies- difficult to identify due to the large amount of commerce in USA
6) Dry Runs or Practice Sessions
7) The event itself
There are opportunities for interdiction when each of these potential indicators is observed.
HIGH EFFICIENCY, LOW PROFILE BATON INSTRUCTOR
This is a class originally developed by Modern Warrior, a police defensive tactics training center in New York. It was taught by one of their master instructors, Bernie Hogancamp.
– Techniques in this system are designed to be used in close quarter, disadvantageous situations where traditional baton techniques won’t work.
– Most major baton training instructor certifications have not adjusted or evolved their techniques since their inception.
– The baton is highly likely to cause injuries if properly employed. It should be used as a defensive weapon when an officer is facing a threat, NOT as a compliance tool.
– Baton strikes need to be able to stop a physical attack. Many cases of excessive force are incidents where a weapon was used ineffectively, leading to more applications than necessary being delivered. If you are authorized to hit someone with a baton, you should hit them with as much power as you can muster with the goal of stopping the attack as quickly as possible.
– Baton training should consider “time frames”. Any action which serves not combative purpose (ie a windup) is counterproductive. If a full windup is required to develop force, it place officers in a bad position relative to their attacker.
– The HELP system uses spring loading techniques to achieve baton velocity without requiring a windup and uses a variety of non-traditional ready positions. Spring loading develops “escape velocity” which allows the baton to develop good speed without a windup in close quarters situations.
– If using an expandable baton, the only proper way of opening it is down and close to the body.
– We used The Dummies Unlimited Dyno-Flex training baton in class. This is the best training baton I’ve ever used, allowing virtually full power strikes against unpadded partners without causing pain. I plan on buying a few of these.
– Overall, I believe the techniques they presented are a useful adjunct to other baton training. They are great in close quarters, on the ground, or for people who might have problems developing enough power for a traditional baton swing. I think larger, stronger, and athletic people will generally like a more traditional striking program better.
EMERGENCY TRAUMA MANAGEMENT INSTRUCTOR
This class was focused on treating battlefield injuries such as gunshot wounds. It was instructed by Brian Bardsley, a paramedic and former military combat medic.
– Sometimes the best medical intervention is talking to the patient, using humor, and being confident. In the instructor’s experience, all of his patients universally informed him that the most important thing he did as a medic was to calm and reassure them that they would be ok.
Another technique is to ask the patient about his family. It calms the patient, takes their mind off their injuries, and gives them something to focus on for survival.
– It is important to pre-identify a medical plan for every tactical operation. Knowledge of available medical assets, closest hospitals, levels of service for each hospital, and the situations that require casualty evac by cruiser should always be discussed before every mission.
– The only thing that fixes serious traumatic injuries is a hospital trauma surgeon. Our role is just to keep the patient alive until we can get him to the hospital as fast as possible. It’s a relay race. Our job as first responders is run the first leg of the relay with authority as best we can.
– Tactical Combat Casualty Care- “We bring good medicine to bad places.”
– Fire superiority and completing the mission = preventative medicine
– Casualties with altered mental status need to be disarmed. It’s easy to assess this. Just ask him what happened. If he responds intelligently, he’s ok. If his response is illogical or if he doesn’t respond, secure his weapon.
– The instructor advocated initial training on hemorrhage control by practicing on a simulation aid first. They used a 6” PVC pipe wrapped in carpet and duct tape to simulate limbs. Cuts are made in the tape and carpet to simulate wounds. The instructors like using this simulation aid first because students can practice by tightening bandages and tourniquets as tightly as they want. It can also be used to practice wound packing.
– The instructor advocates kneeling on the pressure points on the patient’s hip flexor or upper arm as you evaluate the patient and prepare your tourniquet while caring for a serious bleed on an extremity wound. The pressure point usage might not stop the bleeding, but it may slow it down somewhat and costs no time.
– With the issue of marking or identifying a patient with a tourniquet, the instructor advocated using a sharpie marker and writing on the patient’s forehead. In a police scenario he suggested radioing the information and time to dispatch.
– In the instructor’s experience, tourniquets and pressure bandages tend to loosen, fall off or break on long or rough patient transports. He suggests using duct tape over the fastening method to provide more security.
– For self -application of the CAT tourniquet, point the end of the tourniquet (red tip) toward the centerline of the body. That places it in a better position for tightening. Pulling the strap towards the body is easier than pulling it away from the body when using one hand.
– Take a couple of small pieces of white medical tape and mark the pre-stressed tear points on the bandage packaging for easy identification under stress.