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Teaching Upstream

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Let me start by saying that I have NO clue as to whether this sort of teaching method has been explored or not, to what extent it's been researched or disproved, or what if any academic name has been assigned to it. I'm writing this today to share some positive experiments with training others in complicated physical tasks.I began my "teaching" career as a police firearms instructor in 2000. I was selected partially (arguably mostly) because I was good shooter. The five (5)-day instructor certification course did little to help me grow skills in others. I was pretty much on my own to read up on the subject. I used the firearms ranges as my own learning laboratory.  This is something we tinkered with about dozen years ago:We had broken down some of the basic physical movements of drawing, presenting, and firing a pistol into five (5) steps in a linear chain. Some very basic. Some complex motor skills requiring coordination. Some fine motor skills requiring dexterity. …

The Moral-Strategic High Ground?

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US Air Force COL John Boyd deeply discussed the Physical, Mental, & Moral dimensions of conflict. 

When combined with Strategic, Operational, & Tactical scopes of conflict, we have a valuable framework.

The original The Illinois Modelutilized physical-mental-emotional aspects, without yet knowing about Boyd's non-OODAwork. I actually crafted a handheld paper tetrahedron, held together with scotch tape to depict these dimensions! 

Consider how this 3x3 matrix applies to sensitive policing concepts such as: 
use of force;de-escalation;

Using the Thing to Make the Thing

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I once sat in a five (5)-day lecture on adult learning; the irony was not lost on me. 
In retrospect, it's been the worst training class I've ever taken as a police officer. 
And I've been through some bad courses! 
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Recently, my kids and I were watching an old episode of a popular woodworking television show. The craftsman was showing his audience how to make a certain jig for his workshop. In the process, he used a previously-made jig to make the new jig. (It's like using sawhorses while teaching someone how to make sawhorses.) 
My kid turns to me and asks thoughtfully, "If you don't already have that thing, how can you make that thing? It doesn't make sense..."
Exactly! 
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A decade ago, I co-designed a multi-day "train-the-trainer" curriculum for police instructors. Students left our class with a certificate issued by the State governing body -- allowing them to return to their respective police departments and teach the technical skills to othe…

OODA: Situational Thinking

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Little league baseball and softball returned to my community a few weeks ago. Practice weeks were cut short, and games are much more relaxed than last season. (Heck, opposing team players are playing Outfield positions when not enough players show up!) 
As young players advance through the age groupings, their understanding of the game's nuances and the expectation to perform are both raised.  For one (1) of my kid's particular age group, the mechanics and liturgy of the game have been internalized...and they've progressed onto more advanced defensive situational thinking:  Runners on First & Second; no outs.Based loaded; two (2) outs. Runner on Third; one (1) out.  That sorta stuff. 
And of course, it got me pondering Boyd's OODA and its role in baseball's situational thinking. 



Baseball is a great environment to discuss OODA. Here's why: It's "adversarial" in nature, & the objective is clear. As a structured game, it's a relatively Closed-…

#AdaptiveKids: The Canoe Trip

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I just returned from a multi-day canoe trip. The kind where you pack your stuff into dry sacks, camp each night along the river banks, and have to dig holes in which to poop. It's a yearly adventure for us old friends to bring our sons into the wilderness -- without microwave ovens, cell service, sports schedules, or iPads. 
An aspect that continues to interest me...after years of hiking, camping, boating with them (and various other groups)...is how much variety there is in packing between us.
Personally, I subscribe to a minimalist approach. Let me explain the mindset, given the inevitable tradeoffs, risks, and compromises that go along with this practice. Here are some thoughts that went into my decisions on what to include in our boat: 
VOLUME & WEIGHT OF LOAD. First off, the sheer size and mass of the cargo impacts mobility, effort, and workload. Heavy packers have to carry more stuff. Stuff takes up room in your backpack...or in this case...canoe. When speed or endurance m…

PRESENTATION HACK: Big Words, Lingo, & Relatability

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I had just finished my presentation at the police training industry's largest, most popular conference. The room was packed. A trusted colleague, who had been in the audience, approached me privately in the hotel lobby...
"You use a lot of big words."
"Thanks."
"I don't mean that as a compliment."
Huh?!? My spirits shifted. You might be familiar with the post-speaking event euphoria that I was experiencing -- a release of the stress and anxiety that preceded the session. But this man's critique put a quick end to my happy mood.
But he was correct. I used terminology that was not particularly well-known in my audience of police instructors. If I'm honest with myself, I used some of those words in attempts to demonstrate my worthiness, knowledge, and rigorous self-study of the topics at hand. As a first-time invited speaker, and as the youngest person in the room...I wanted to impress. I wanted to be respected for the new ideas I was introducin…

Police Officer Defense Against TASER

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A uniformed police officer, working without a partner and with backup not yet arrived, confronted a subject in a cramped apartment hallway. Without provocation, the man lunged at the officer. Both went to the ground. The man took away the officer's TASER, and soon rose to his feet. The officer, still on his backside, unholstered his pistol as soon as he realized he'd been disarmed of his belt-holstered TASER. He got to his feet, soon to be about eight (8) feet apart from his assailant. The officer began to back-pedal to get ground between them. The man raised the TASER at the officer. The officer raised his pistol at the man... The man suddenly darted into his open apartment and locked the door. With the officer's TASER. My SWAT team got paged out within minutes. I was the tactical supervisor on the squad assigned to the very hallway corridor where the attack occurred. I recall the "Rules of Engagement" conversation I had with the guys, that went something like t…

Police Use of Force Continuums Are Broken (But So Is The Case Law Approach)

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Back in 1998, in the Police Academy, I was taught a Use of Force continuum
Pay no attention to the fact that my Police Department's main directive on Use of Force (drafted 1995) was a case law-based policy. 
What I've come to understand over the last two (2) decades is that neither is a suitable model, guide, or training tool to help street cops make the best decisions. What I'm advocating here is a hybrid approach that will inevitably piss off both camps. That's often the price of compromise...
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Let me start with this: Police Use of Force (UoF) can NOT be quantified, measured, mechanically-applied, or accurately categorized by statistics. 
Take simple incident reporting as a case-in-point. The best we can do is to create an arbitrary standard that turns police action into a reportable UoF incident. How many UoF incidents did a police department have in the last year? Count up the UoF reports. Hint: It'll be a whole integer. 
However, what benchmark turns a ge…