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What cops can learn from YouTube

Seek out as much information from vetted sources as you can, but always ensure any technique, tactic or equipment is in compliance with your agency’s policies


I know what you’re thinking: Videos can never replace actual in-person training. You also might be thinking that some of the content you see on YouTube is ridiculous. I agree on both counts. The platform has a negative stigma propagated by many contributors who don’t have the training or experience to give advice. Still, there are a few things we can learn from some top-shelf folks out there who put content on YouTube.

Equipment testing and reviews

When my department introduced miniature red dot sights (MRDS) into our policy, we wanted to make sure our officers only fielded solid equipment that would serve them well. I turned to Aaron Cowan at Sage Dynamics. Cowan has been kind enough to test the daylights out of many of these optics, as well as other equipment so we don’t have to. For this testing, Cowan shoots several hundred rounds with the MRDS in place, conducts several drop tests and uses them to manipulate the slide on a barricade. I doubt most manufacturers would approve of us doing that during a typical test and evaluation period. Thankfully, we don’t have to. My department used several video reviews from Sage Dynamics to decide which equipment we would allow the officers to use and more importantly, which would not be rugged enough for duty use.


There are so many doctrines that delve into the minutia of defensive firearms and tactics. It’s important to truly open your mind and absorb all of the pluses and minuses of each before making a decision. I’ll give you an example. Momentary v. constant on for handgun weapon lights. Cowan makes a thoughtful argument on his view of this very controversial topic.


Yes, I said tactics, from YouTube. Generally, when I learn tactics, I want it to come from a law enforcement source or someone who at least understands the policy and the law. LEO Roundtable is a great resource for all things law enforcement. This group of active and retired cops often comment on Police1 articles and I’ve found their observations to be on point.

This video from Bill Blowers titled, “Going in Alone,” offers some great advice on clearing your own home in the event of an emergency. This has always been a concern of mine, but I’ve found too many officers think their home is a King’s X of sorts and is off-limits to criminals. That’s hardly the case and less true now than ever in the era of vilification and doxing. I don’t know of any department that offers training on this narrow but extremely important subject.

Primary & Secondary has a YouTube page, Podcast and Forum. P&S is probably the premiere resource for law enforcement in the country. Most of the participants and all of the moderators speak from a very high level of knowledge and experience. The forum has law enforcement-only subforums that require credential verification for participants. I’ve gotten a lot of gems from there and you will, too.

Active Self Protection Badge Cam is a subchannel of John Correia’s Active Self Protection page. John has recently added 30-year federal law enforcement veteran Mike Willever to help dissect actual police/citizen encounters. They do a great job. In addition to the less-lethal tool failure described in the above link, also watch their video on the concept of initiative deficit and Hollywood officer’s response to a stabbing suspect (below).

I find this channel particularly useful for training officers because though Correia and Willever are both very pro-law enforcement, they are unafraid to call cops out when there are bad outcomes that could have been avoided with better tools or tactics. I have yet to see one of their comments – either positive or negative – with which I could find fault.

Firearms technique

Firearms training is one of the most difficult parts of any peace officer academy. This video by Chuck Pressburg lovingly titled, The Flinchies, has helped scores of my students in the past overcome pre-ignition push.

Also, consider this new take from Bill Blowers on the old topic of malfunction clearances. It makes a lot of sense to me.

Non-law enforcement folks

This is where things get spicy. Cops don’t like taking advice from sources outside of law enforcement. That’s a mistake and the primary cause of the institutional inertia effect from which we suffer. If that’s you, it’s time to get over it. You’re missing out on a lot of good information. Consider this video by nationally-recognized instructor Brian Hill on the trigger finger register position. This was a different view of the topic for me and after some experimentation, I found that it works very well. I will likely be adding that to our department’s firearms program because I believe it has value and will likely make our cops safer.

Another good example is from Neil and Stephannie Weidner on safe holster usage at the range. They cover both plainclothes and duty holsters. I find myself spending a lot of time correcting these types of errors at the range and suggest you watch this video and implement the lessons if you aren’t already.

MRDS are becoming more prevalent and I suspect someday, they will be the norm. Scott Jedlinski (Modern Samurai Project) has a great video on Red Dot Acquisition. I have taken Scott’s class, but I use this video when I teach MRDS, because he can explain it better than I can.

Speaking of YouTube and instructors, the video below is one of the reasons I chose to take a Modern Samurai Project class. Always vet your instructors. One of the ways I do that is to measure their knowledge and their ability to convey it by watching videos of them.

Never read the comments

YouTube is a great repository of useful knowledge. Unfortunately, all such knowledge caches attract negative people like gnats to a Sunday afternoon barbeque. Take the advice I get from all my friends who create video content: Never read the comments.

The ‘Tube

There are so many great channels on “the ‘tube,” it would be impossible to highlight them all. My advice is to seek out as much information from vetted sources as you can, but always ensure any technique, tactic or equipment is in compliance with your agency’s policies and procedures. These are some of my favorites. What are yours? Share in the box below.

Warren Wilson is a captain, training commander and rangemaster with an Oklahoma metropolitan police department. He is a former SWAT team leader, current firearms instructor and writer. He is certified as a De-Escalation Instructor and Force Science Analyst by the Force Science Institute. Warren has over 3,100 hours of documented training including multiple instructor certifications on firearms, active shooter and OC. He has been a full-time law enforcement officer since 1996.