Time and money.
That’s what it comes down to for your training.
We need time and money to attend classes. We need time off work to train. We need gas money. We need money for tuition, meals, and lodging. Good classes are expensive, especially considering the budgets of your average agency and the salary of your individual cop or self-defender. Hence, most of us can’t attend every in-person class we want to. Our front-line folks often must choose between vacations for their families and potentially life-saving training.
However, some lower-cost alternatives in the Internet age include podcasts, like those from Primary & Secondary and GUNS Magazine.
Internet training today is a perfectly valid medium. I believe it’s better than in-person training in some cases. The most apparent advantage is money. Online training means no expenses for travel, fuel, or lodging.
As importantly, online training can generally be done at our own pace without taking time away from family or work. Here are just a few I’ve found worthwhile.
Active Attack Event Response Leadership
The Texas A&M University Extension Service, which also provides the Active Law Enforcement Rapid Response Training program (ALERRT), offers this class free of charge. Its principles are consistent with the ALERRT and LASER (Law Enforcement Active Shooter Event Response) programs. I plan to take it a few more times and write it into our department’s procedure manual. This training is not just valuable for leadership.
We offer it to all sworn personnel in our agency. There is a sister class on the same website for dispatchers and 911 operators.
Active shooter response is always a hot topic immediately after one of these tragedies.
We all get frantically motivated for what seems to be a pre-planned set of time before defaulting back to the same ineffective status quo policy and poorly thought-out plans. We re-forget that all plans are effective until they are needed. ALERRT’s Civilian Reaction to Active Shooter Events Instructor (CRASE) is offered at no cost and addresses these issues with a realistic eye. This class is intended for both law enforcement and citizen instructors to give non-sworn personnel the mental tools they need, whether armed or not, to survive an active shooter event.
Valor-Survive and Thrive
The Valor course is an Officer Safety and Wellness program funded by the U.S. Department of Justice. It focuses on some traditional officer safety training and more modern peer support strategies. Once completed, attendees are allowed to take their instructor course. I’ve incorporated it into my 21st Century Officer Survival course. It significantly enhances your existing programs, and it’s tuition free. They even have an app that provides helpful information to your troops.
The Great Courses
College professors teach these courses (I know, I know, give me a chance), and they seem expensive at first blush. A free trial and a monthly subscription make them very affordable.
Also, frequent sales reduce the costs of courses from $150 or $300 to $20 or $30. Get on their mailing list and watch for sales. My favorites are The Secrets of Human Perception and Your Deceptive Mind: A Scientific Guide to Critical Thinking Skills. Each one cost me $30. Concerning the latter, prepare for an absurd amount of gun control insanity, but the rest of the content is solid. I’ve had no difficulty getting my state to add these classes to my official continuing education record.
Force Science Institute Analyst Certification
For the uninitiated, Force Science Institute is the leading research organization studying use of force issues and the human element involved in these activities. The Force Science Certification Course can be taken in person or online. Some might consider the cost prohibitive at $1650 and $1400, respectively, for this excellent 40 hours of top-shelf training. Still, every cop shop should have at least one certified Force Science Analyst in-house. I would argue that the same sentiment applies to prosecutor’s offices and attorneys specializing in self-defense cases. I recommend the online course because you can go back and rewatch any part or all of the presentation at will. I do so regularly.
Force Science Institute Realistic De-Escalation Instructor
FSI also has an excellent Realistic De-Escalation Instructor program. The key word is “realistic.” As you may know, to the public, de-escalation means a cop should use some sympathetic sorcery to talk a violent actor into handcuffs. Or the cop lays their gun down on the pavement, and the perp breaks down in tears because someone finally understands him. Um. No. The truth is cops, and good citizens can only pave the path for de-escalation. Only the escalated individual can decide to de-escalate, regardless of the pro-criminal fantasies of the uninformed. This class costs $400 online and $500 in person. As with the above FSI course, every cop shop should have an instructor on staff, and every cop should have access to this training.
We have seen remarkable success using this training.
Smarts is Smarts
Training is training.
The medium from which we obtain our smarts is irrelevant. Some look down on Internet training. I believe it has a place and is superior in some cases. Virtual reality has arrived and will become much more commonly used. As stated above, the reduction in cost and the ability to view the presentations at will is invaluable; especially for those of us with less-than-recent birthdates who may need the occasional reminder on an important topic. Things will not be getting any easier for cops or citizens in the near future. I implore cops and administrators to take advantage of these options. What do you have to lose?