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“Current Training May Leave Officers More Vulnerable”: Early Highlights From Forthcoming FSI Assessment Project

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  • The average officer within months of leaving an academy will be able only to describe how a given suspect-control technique should be used but will have “little ability” to actually apply it effectively in “a dynamic encounter with a defiantly resistant subject.”
  • At the rate academy and in-service training is typically delivered, it could take the average street cop up to 45 years to receive the number of hours of training and practice in arrest-and-control and officer-safety techniques that a student athlete gets in competitive sports during the usual high school career.
  • Many police training programs are not employing modern research-based methods of successfully teaching psychomotor skills, a shortcoming compounded by the fact that current record-keeping fails to capture even the most elementary relevant information about the dynamic nature of real-world assaults on LEOs.

These are but a few of the findings that will be included in an assessment of police training in the U.S. and the United Kingdom that has been conducted across the last 3 years by the Force Science Institute.

Last month, FSI’s executive director Dr. Bill Lewinski shared selected highlights from the study with nearly 2,000 officers at a conference sponsored by the Police Federation of England and Wales, which commissioned the training evaluation. He is now completing a comprehensive final report on the project to be delivered within the next 30 days.

“Our assignment specifically was to evaluate the foundation of training paradigms, the curriculum, and the teaching methodologies for officer safety and arrest-and-control performance in use-of-force situations within the United Kingdom, and to offer recommendations for improvement,” Lewinski explains.

“But to put that in a meaningful context, it was necessary also to assess the status of training in the U.S. and to some extent in Canada. Policing practices across western societies are generally very similar.

“Wherever they are based, if officers are unprepared to meet the various threats and levels of resistance and violence they face, it can impair their ability to make good judgments, to effect control, and to avoid injury or death to themselves and to innocent civilians.”

The research team led by Lewinski included internationally recognized authorities in biomechanics, kinesiology, exercise physiology, forensic psychology, and other relevant disciplines.

Their bottom-line conclusion: Time and cost concerns are “so restrictive that they significantly compromise the suitability and sufficiency” of current physical force training.

“An unintended consequence is that current training may leave officers more vulnerable, despite the best attempts by police trainers and their agencies to deliver an effective training package.”

We’ll have full details in a future edition of Force Science News, drawing directly from Lewinski’s forthcoming report to the Federation.

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