One year after Dorner: A hard pill to swallow

Today’s law enforcement professionals are finding themselves engaging adversaries with a higher degree of training than ever before

Almost exactly one year ago, I was attending an instructor course in Southern California. The Christopher Dorner case had just concluded, and I had a week to interact with police officers from all around the region. 

The myriad emotions I encountered included anger, relief, and disbelief. As a trainer, the last one struck a cord with me. While on its face, I understand that most of us are professionals, and as such, the thought of one of our own turning against us is a hard pill to swallow. It is nonetheless a topic that must be addressed.

With incidents like this occurring in our time, it is one more issue that requires our attention. While most of us are familiar with the details of this case, it does raise an interesting notion. Today’s law enforcement professionals are finding themselves engaging adversaries with a higher degree of training than ever before.  

Civilians in Police Training
Training that can ultimately be turned against law enforcement can be found in multiple venues. For example, limited background information, citizens may attend police academies in several California college systems, and never put that training to use as a police officer. 

Furthermore, many of today’s video games are perfect first-person simulators. This point was made abundantly clear to me not long ago as I assisted with a basic police rifle course. One of the younger officers attending stated on day one that he had never handled a police rifle in the past. As the week progressed, he proved to be one of the better shooters in the course.

I asked him how he had learned to manipulate the weapon with no previous training, and his response was, “Call of Duty.” 

In the last few years, the firearms/tactics training industry has exploded. Some of these providers vet students prior to attendance but some do not.

I’ve previously written about awareness, and the need for our personnel to have an understanding of what their true adversary is. A point I always strive to make is that the subconscious mind cannot tell the difference between training and reality.  

If properly prepared, the brain delivers a trained response. If not, a startled reaction is applied. We must always strive for a trained response. This response begins with a simple conversation and a level of awareness. 

Knowing that adversaries are well prepared — beyond the traditional prison yard — should be a motivator for trainers and students alike.

Stay safe.

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