Posts

Case Detectives vs Pattern Detectives

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I have a growing curiosity about different mindsets of criminal detectives. Maybe I'm about to use the wrong terms. Maybe I'll make unfair assumptions. Maybe my experiences are too anecdotal. But here goes...Anyone who's spent time in a police detective unit can appreciate the certain mindset of an investigator who is drawn toward financial or cyber crimes. It's patient, analytical, methodical, procedural. Financial crime investigations tend to be puzzles, waiting to be pieced together. In Cynefin terms, I find them floating in the Complicated domain. Other detectives might hold special skills in interviewing. They're the men and women who know how to connect with a person, in retrieving the truth. Often...an uncomfortable truth. Again, if you spend time in an investigative unit, you'll soon learn who these folks are too. This isn't to say that the above two (2) categorizations are mutually exclusive or exhaustive. There is a generalist-specialist tension h…

The School Answer

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The School Answer is found in the textbook. It's written on the chalkboard. It's what the teacher tests you on. And if 2020 has taught us anything, we need less School Answers ...and more divergent, critical, adaptive thinking than ever.*This week, as on-duty police detective, I walked through a few grade schools during scheduled "lockdown" drills -- the sorts that prepare students and staff for active shooter events.  The schools were operating under a "hybrid" model, where 25% of the students were inside the building. It was my first time inside public schools since the great COVID shutdown of Spring 2020. Holy crap! Sorta creepy. But also pleased at their out-of-the-box solutions. Half the classrooms had taken on new use as makeshift storage facilities. They were filled with stacked-up desks, tables, and chairs -- from adjacent classrooms operating at reduced capacity. In the corners of some of these storage rooms sat lonely teachers, behind their webcam…

Anticipation: What's Behind the Door?

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Back in late 1990s and early 2000s, and to a lesser extent today, the Pointman was the SWAT officer who went into danger areas first. On my team, the position required a certain skillfulness with the ballistic shield and pole-mounted mirrors. Those of us desiring such a position often wore two (2) pistols...one (1) on each hip. Like Yosemite Sam. (It was easier to brandish a handgun, ambidextrously, while carrying the shield.)
As a youngster to the police SWAT team, I dreamt of be assigned as "The Point." Within a few years, I was given the opportunity. The Pointman was an awesome position. First off, it guaranteed that I was on the "entry team" that went into a building (as opposed to being stuck outside on the perimeter). I held the responsibility to maintain or adjust the speed. I got to pick whether the team moved left or right. Most importantly, it mean you were trusted by your teammates. And to me, that mattered. A lot. The bittersweetness to the Pointman posi…

The Dog That Didn't Bark

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In the Sherlock Holmes story The Adventure of Silver Blaze, author Sir Arthur Conan Doyle writes this about a critical clue in the murder mystery: Detective: Is there any other point to which you would wish to draw my attention?Sherlock Holmes: To the curious incident of the dog in the night-time.Detective: The dog did nothing in the night-time.Sherlock Holmes: That was the curious incident.Sherlock Holmes was a master at pattern recognition. And in this case, recognizing the absence of something that otherwise should have been there. The dog didn't bark! The killer must have been known by the dog...
For humans, it's more difficult to see what's not there. Especially when we don't expect it. This sort of observance of negativity is what separates the expert from the novice.
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Every now and then, I unexpectedly finish the bag of Oreo cookies at home. I reach in and realize there are no more!! Uh oh!!
What's the best course of action?
Certainly it's not to leave the e…

The Commodification of Police Training

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The US police training community (or is it an industry?) is filled with moonlighters, social workers, hacks, retirees, wannabes, professionals, academics, bullies, bullshitters, experts, lawyers, military special ops, PhDs, right wing extremists, social justice warriors, senseis, and all sorts of personalities. When I consider who are the thinkers in the police training community, my mind almost never drifts to the largest training companies or the biggest names. Actually, it's often quite the opposite. I look for the guys and gals who are committed to dialogue and debate, as opposed to lecture. The trainers who lecture are often not the same who enter into meaningful dialogue and debate. Look at providing training as a business model. It requires officers/students or organizations/agencies to pay a fee for training services, so that a trainer gets paid. Now look at scale. Per hour or day, that trainer can make a whole lot more money (or charge a larger flat rate) for a room of 30…

Seek agility; maybe even without "Agile"

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I don't know crap about "Agile," but I've learned a few things about agility.

My journey started when an ER doctor friend went through police SWAT school to get on a team as tactical medic. He excelled when compared to veteran police officers! He should have failed miserably. 

I theorized it had to do with generalized sense-making, adaptability, & decision-making. In my study since, there are other concepts I've accepted:

SYSTEMS THINKING - from closed mechanistic systems to open loop complex systems.

MISSION COMMAND - spanning from tight management to open empowerment.

PROCESS - from rigid procedures to open feedback-rich cycles.

ANTICIPATION - weighing predictions & considering possibilities.

DECISIVENESS - from slow stabilizing probes to fully committed permanent choices.

TEAMS - groups are plug-&-play; teams have chemistry.

GENERALISM - navigate the spaces between.

TRADEOFFS - appreciate what you may be giving up.

TRIAGE- not all opportunities or risks are e…

#OODAzoom 002: Mental-Moral-Physical meets Strategic-Operational-Tactical

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On 08-12-2020, I hosted a second OODAzoom conversation. Joe Willis helped moderate the session. Many thanks to Joe for shouldering some of the stress that goes along with connecting a variety of themes, ideas, contexts, & theories! Some background: OODAzoom is a way to bring together students of John Boyd and OODA, from far away places - both geographically and cognitively. It's an open-invite, but I guard the access credentials to reduce the Asshole Factor. It currently uses Zoom video conferencing, with followup publishing on my YouTube playlist. Here is the latest two (2)-hour video: 
If OODAzoom sounds interesting to you, please follow the #OODAzoom hashtag on LinkedIn. It's the only social media that I'm willing to maintain right now. I'm still figuring out a better way to host these online conversations. Different platform? Different way to provide access credentials? Different way to filter out anonymous attendees? Different timeslot? Some sort of subscriptio…

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…