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I have been an active person all my life. From a young age, I played many different sports. My wife and I have 3 kids, and they too have taken part in many athletic endeavors. Our family has been involved in baseball, basketball, soccer, football, track, cross-country, Judo, Gracie Jiu-jitsu, adventure racing, triathlons, and a host of other activities. Do you know what they all have in common? Practice…
Everyone one of these activities include some form of competition and to have the chance to perform well in those competitions, each of those activities have a consistent practice schedule. No one shows up to do a triathlon having never practiced swimming, running, or biking (at least no one that probably did very well). They practiced and probably a lot.
Many years ago, I had Judo Legend Sid Kelly at my martial arts academy in Connecticut to teach a seminar. During the seminar he said something that I have lived by ever since. He asked the group, “Practice makes what???” And of course, everyone enthusiastically answered aloud, “Perfect!” He paused, and he said, “No, it does not. Practice makes permanent.”
He further stated that someone could practice something 1000 times, and if they were not practising correctly and with proper instruction, they would perfectly know it wrong. I have heard many coaches repeat this saying since that day (my own students are sick of hearing me say it), but it is 100% true. Preparation is key. It is essential. Without it you must be lucky and lucky every single time…
What does this have to do with law enforcement? Glad you asked! In my 25 years of policing, I can attest under oath that the majority of law enforcement agencies do not practice defensive tactics and other lifesaving skills with enough realism, quality instruction, and frequency to adequately face the dangers of our profession. Most agencies/officers are literally playing the odds. The odds that it won’t happen in our town, to our department, or to “me”.
No youth, high school, collegiate, or professional team in any sport would take the field, court, or mat with the same level of recent practice hours that many (if not most) agencies provide their police officers. Our profession needs to start training weekly. We must invest in quality and professional training. We must not just rely on sending the favorite child to an unrealistic 5-day course and having them teach a 4-hour in-service block once a year so we can “check the box.”
We are facing the highest trained, most resistant, and most politically protected criminal population of our time, and very few agencies are providing training to match what their officers are facing. If we want to reduce injuries and deaths to officers and the public we serve, we need to practice, and we need to do it correctly.
This responsibility does not only fall upon the agency. If you want to wear a badge, carry a gun, and intervene in some of society’s most dangerous situations, you need to live the lifestyle of being a professional police officer. We owe society, our families, and ourselves the same effort in preparation to match the authority level with which we have been granted. Part time effort
will give you part time results. “Wisdom is not a product of schooling but of the lifelong attempt to acquire it.” Albert Einstein
Rob Magao www.officersurvivalseries.com
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