police training

Poor Risk Management of Confidential Informants

Confidential informant management risk. Discusses case where there is poor confidential informant management Suggestions for Chiefs of police in relation to n dealing with confidential informants, (Human Sources, CHIS, HUMINT)

Undercover Policing - Training for the real world

At HSM Training we have been working recently with several psychologists who are actively involved in creating safe learning environments for officers engaged in such high-risk activities as undercover policing or managing human sources (confidential informants). Frequently, these psychologists are having to deal with the paradox that officers are being asked to operate in high-risk environments, but the agency’s training regime refuses to allow training that simulates real life.

With an increasing number of law enforcement educators advocating the stance that training should take place in an environment where officers are not allowed to feel uncomfortable, one where they will rarely be challenged as to their behaviour, and not even allowed to fail a course, there is a real problem as to how to get staff up to standard to operate safely in the real world.

Here are ten questions you might want to ask your training department when you talk to them about designing the type of training course that is required to keep officers safe:

  1. In the real world will officers be asked to make decisions under pressure?

  2. In the real world are officers likely to be subjected to verbal attacks?

  3. In the real world will officers have to cope with significant, sometimes seemingly overwhelming, work load?

  4. In the real world will officers encounter aggressive and offensive individuals?

  5. In the real world will officers sometimes feel isolated and alone?

  6. In the real world will officers potentially feel high levels of anxiety?

  7. In the real world is the stress encountered likely to be prolonged and/or have a cumulative effect?

  8. In the real world might someone could an error by an officer lead to their death?

  9. Do you believe everyone can perform the role in question? (If the answer given to this is “neither” the person you are talking to does not know what they are talking about. Not everyone has the aptitude for specialised roles.)

  10. Would you rather officers failed in the classroom or failed in the real world? (If the answer given to this is “neither” the person you are talking to does not know what they are talking about. If an officer’s vulnerabilities are not identified in the classroom they will be come out in the real world often with catastrophic consequences.)

Often, reluctance to build role appropriate training stems from fear: Fear of a complaint from a student, fear that the instructors themselves would not cope well with the type of training, or fear from those outside of the learning environment (such as managers or human resource staff) objecting to the nature of the training. It also shows a lack of knowledge of the law.

Failure to provide training that prepares an officer to deal with the real world they will encounter is a failure to protect the officer.  It is an ethically bankrupt strategy, based for the most part, in self-protection. Furthermore, it is negligence and where the risks faced may lead to the physical or mental harm such omissions may amount to an offence under Health and Safety or Workplace Safety legislation.

Muhammad Ali once said: “I hated every minute of training, but I said, 'Don't quit. Suffer now and live the rest of your life as a champion.”

For those involved in high risk police duties a shorter version suffices: “I hated every minute of training, but I said, 'Don't quit. Suffer now and live the rest of your life....”

At HSM Training we strive to provide training that ensures officers are ready to deal with the world they will face: Better hard training, than hard ending.

Power, police officers and the human brain

As a keen amateur photographer I enjoy spending some time browsing the photos posted on Instagram wishing I had the "eye" to have captured some of the amazing shots posted there. Inevitably, given my professional background, I do tend to drift to law enforcement photos and end up following some officers as they post their daily events on line.  I thought it worth raising what one officer had posted there. The photo related to giving citizens a ticket for not pulling over when a police car was trying to pass them in an emergency. The officer who owned the post said she often gave out "tickets" to motorists who failed to pull over. This raises the interesting question about when, and if, a police officer should use the powers they have been given and what will be the benefit or consequences of using these powers. 

Every police officer who has ever been en route to an emergency call with the "blues and twos" blasting, is well aware that the world is full of motorists who it feels are deliberately impeding the police vehicle. There they are driving along in their own little world, oblivious to what is behind them. And what is behind them is a police officer getting more and more stressed and more and more frustrated.

Now let's try and add a few facts to the situation that might help anyone involved:

  1. As soon as the officer gets an emergency call, stress levels rise instantaneously. The activity in the brain changes significantly and the way the officer perceives the world changes.
  2. In reality, the motorist is oblivious to all but what happens to be in their world, at that  particular moment. [Rarely do people deliberately try to impede the police in such a manner.]

Assuming that the police officer continues to the emergency, (if they don't their stress level has already removed the ability to think logically) and that they note the licence plate/vehicle number returning to speak with the motorist at a later time, what occurs then is:

  1. The officer is still likely to be in an annoyed/frustrated state, whether they realise it or not.
  2. The motorist may still be totally oblivious to what they have done. If they are aware the are likely to be:  a) Feel sorry for their actions,  and/or   b) feel that, as their actions were unintentional, an apology is sufficient to make it right. 
  3. The officer decides to issue a ticket because that's what the frustration in their brain is telling them to do.
  4. The police officer alienates a citizen.

Just because a police officer has the power does not mean they have to use it.  If the officer writes a ticket nothing is gained except the 'power buzz' for the officer. The motorist learns nothing, except resentment.

That said, how often do we equip officers with understanding of the human brain and how to develop their interpersonal skills to use that knowledge? The fault  often begins, not with the individual officer but with the training that is provided to them, when they are recruited.

Want to know more: ask about our basic interpersonal skills course

Active Listening for Police Officers

Many of have heard of the term "Active Listening" and some of us may have a vague recollection of attending some training entitled 'active listening' or some such moniker.  However, how much of what we were taught do we actually remember and how often do we put it into practice?

In delivering training to police officers on an international basis it is evident that many officers have little or no understanding of this basic skill that will help them do there job much more effectively and keep them much safer into the bargain. 

One problem with training in relation to active listening is that the theory is relatively easy to teach  - the main points can be covered in a few PowerPoint slides. This means that many Police Chiefs and Heads of Training are fooled into thinking that there officers have been trained in active listening.

Teaching a few theoretical points is not teaching someone how to listen effectively. Those new to the subject must learn how to use their ears and there eyes effectively.  Much of communication is visual.  They must be taught a basic understanding of what motivates human behaviour and they must be given significant time in role plays to practice and understand the application of their new skills. 

Investment in such training brings significant returns with regard to public confidence, enhanced community policing and effective policing.  The skill of active listening should be taught to all new police recruits and should run as a core theme throughout their initial training.  Introductory and refresher courses should be provided to other officers of all ranks. 

If you are interest in effective training designed specifically for police officers please get in touch with us at HSM Training.