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#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…

#OODAzoom: Thurs June 04th, 2020, 10a-12pCST

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Many of us have been talking about it for months. Here it is...

I'll be hosting and moderating a live group Zoom to talk about John Boyd's OODA. I've invited a few trusted acolytes to participate, to ensure a lively conversation. Though I'd rather this not remain as a "panel." 

WHEN? Thursday, June 04th, 2020; 10a-12p Chicago time.WHO? Brian Rivera, Marcus Guest, Thom Dworak, Ben Ford (invited). But again, I don't want this to remain as panel participation. HOW TO JOIN? Shoot me a direct message on Twitter, LinkedIn, text, email. I'll reply with Zoom access credentials. I'll ignore request from anonymous accounts.  
A short list of questions and provocations to get the debate flowing:

What are the most misunderstood aspects of OODA?Can you use OODA as a tool?How does OODA relate to other frameworks?What would you (not) change about OODA?What's your biggest issue/shortcoming with OODA? 
Consider developing a few slides to explain yourself...if y…

Cynefin: The Tool That Doesn't "Do" Anything

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Ever since I was a little boy, I've been enamored with tools. I was raised alongside brothers by a mechanically-minded dad. Science, math & engineering classes always attracted me. As a current police officer, I resist my gravitation towards overly-simplistic technical solutions. My home garage has more hand tools than most in my generation. On this website, I write frequently about adaptive tools & smaller toolboxes
What can I say? I just like tools. 
Even though a mechanical, linear analogy doesn't quite fit, I've become more and more interested in mental and emotional "tools." This is especially true of my perspective on mental and thinking models, on which I previously wrote:
"Mental models are etched patterns and worldview (often subconscious) that represent how various parts of reality connect, interact, relate, or work together. They are build through experience, exposure, faith, cognitive heuristics, storytelling, schemata, and imagery. We …

Empty Capacity

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Whether in the context of hospital beds, individual mental processing bandwidth, or organizational learning...everywhere I turn this week, somebody is talking about capacity

Here are some thoughts, rather unstructured, about capacity and adaptability. 

As opposed to some hijacked corporate or academic version, let's start with a general definition:


NOTE: I'm not super interested in entertaining differences in capacity versus capabilities. I'll leave those circular debates up to you guys! 

My wife, an emergency/trauma nurse, keeps telling me of all the vacant floors in her hospital and in the hospitals of her healthcare friends.  With the restrictions on elective and non-essential surgeries, the demand placed on hospital rooms has drastically declined. (Without patients to be cared for, floor nurses are being furloughed at unbelievable rates.) Capacity has not changed -- there are still the same number of hospital beds. However, the availability of such as significantly open…

The Dangerous Gap Before Deadly Force

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Videos of physical struggles between police and citizens, like that posted by @FreeRangeCritic this week of Chicago Police resorting to shooting a man in the subway, get my mind returning to tough questions. (If you have been in a cave the last few days, I suggest watching the video before reading on...)

As a police officer myself, I'm especially troubled, frustrated, and bothered by videos where the officers appear to have lost control, appear to be overpowered, appear to be ineffective, or appear to be otherwise unreasonably vulnerable to injury or worse. 

As a free citizen, I'm equally troubled, frustrated, and bothered by videos where the officers appear to have overreacted, appear indecisive, appear to have made bad decisions, or appear to use excessive force. 

This is one (1) such video that holds several of those aspects at once. 

I've spent a bulk of my time as a police officer in training roles, where a few dozen days (or more) per year are designated for me helping p…