The year 2020 has placed new challenges on communities, governments, and the law enforcement agencies that serve them. Protests large and small from coast to coast and the resultant responses from government and law enforcement have emphasized the differences in perspectives and opinions of these three functional groups. Instead of focusing on the differences, we believe that there is common ground to lay the foundation of a path forward.
Communities, Governments, and Law Enforcement Groups all want:
- Honest Communication and Connection
- Demonstrated Respect to Individuals within their Group
- Better Working Relationships Between the Groups
While all groups should make some changes in the way they deal with others, we believe that Law Enforcement can and should take the first steps to making changes in an honest effort to improve the existing difficult relationships.
The United States National Standards of Training Association
For over 20 years, the U.S.N.S.T.A. has been reviewing the ever-evolving requirements for law enforcement and bringing forward innovative solutions to meet those complex demands. Seeking valuable input from public policy makers, administrative personnel, law enforcement leadership and rank and file, and the communities which we serve, our focus is to promote training that provides conflict resolution with the minimum or no use of force that ensures maximum safety of our nation’s communities and law enforcement personnel.
At the U.S.N.S.T.A. we firmly believe that the proper approach and training content results in permanent behavioral changes within Law Enforcement, allowing them to serve as more effective protectors of communities. To create behavioral embedding, the training must address both attitudes and skills.
Attitude – The foundation of all community interaction is the mental attitude that each party brings to the engagement. We don’t want law enforcement to approach policing as a process of finding and removing “bad actors” from communities. That focuses on the negative. Instead, the proper focus is to approach policing as a way to defend all members of the community so that the good people in those communities can live their lives in peace without fear of criminals, and without fear of the police.
Skills – In order to protect communities, police officers must be ready to use their social intelligence, empathy, insights, and communication skills to avoid confrontations wherever possible. These are all skills that can be developed through the right type of training. And if they have to bring force to an encounter to protect a community from harm, that force has to be applied skillfully and appropriately so that there is minimized risk of injury to any party during the arrest process or in caring for subjects’ post arrest.
Trained in the proper attitude and skills, law enforcement professionals can protect communities with more appropriate approaches that produce better results – safer for the police officer, safer for subjects placed under arrest when necessary, and properly delivered in order to protect communities from harm.
The U.S.N.S.T.A. Approach
Historically, the majority of police training has focused on tools. These tools can range from body cameras to evidence tracking software to weapons training. There is a large emphasis with many hours spent annually on weapons training including pepper spray, less lethal munitions, batons, tasers, and firearms. This training is important, because when these weapons are deployed it is critical that they be deployed correctly to minimize accidental harm or death. The problem with such emphasis on weapons is reflected in the old proverb, “If the only tool you have is a hammer, every problem looks like a nail.”
At the U.S.N.S.T.A., we believe the most important tools for any officer are their brain and their voice. Officers can go weeks, months, or years without discharging a firearm in the line of duty. But they will be required to use their brain and their voice every hour of every shift. Sadly, training of these two critical tools has been woefully underrepresented to a massive degree nationally.
We believe that the future of effective policing will require extensive training in the use of mind and voice, and as a result the U.S.N.S.T.A. is committed to providing training that covers these obvious gaps in the typical training programs in place today. Our approach is to provide end-to-end training that is holistic in nature, covering the big picture issues that are too often overlooked. A few examples of our different programs include the following:
Social Intelligence – Social Intelligence combines human behavior, evolutionary psychology and neuroscience to help us overcome personal biases that affect our behavior. Strong social intelligence skills allow organizations and individuals to create – or re-create – a clear vision of their mission in an agile and resilient manner. When they find themselves in a tough spot, advanced social intelligence skills allow comfort in trying new approaches.
Communication – Of critical importance when engaging communities and their members are well-developed communication skills. Requirements can range from dealing with the mentally ill, gaining cooperation from witnesses, providing death notifications to victims’ families, or getting a subject to peaceably cooperate to avoid the application of any force.
Techniques – To protect communities, actions need to be taken to safely remove threats to that community. Ideally, this can will be accomplished in the safest way possible that provides minimum risk to both the officers and the subjects involved. Critical topics would include subject control, In-custody care, proficiency in critical incident responses, and tactical training including an updated officer response continuum, situational awareness, active shooter mitigation and response, and tactical decision making.
Leadership – In order for any law enforcement training system to be successful, it must have buy-in and backing from departmental leadership to reinforce the concepts being taught to the rank and file. This is particularly true for reinforcing appropriate attitudes where you want leadership to challenge each shift to “go out there and protect our communities!” versus “go out there and take down some bad guys!”
Implementation – Any training program needs to be properly rolled out and monitored to ensure that appropriate lessons are being learned, implemented, and behaviorally embedded. Oversight of the training rollout needs to be a structured process (Field Training) to closely monitor where and when failures occur, and to oversee the implementation of timely adjustments.
2020 has proven that people on all sides know that things need to change. Required changes include improved communication, demonstrations of respect, and effective working relationships. Attitudinal and behavioral changes need to be embedded into law enforcement personnel at all levels. Wishing for these changes won’t work; communities, governments, and communities need to take steps to bring those changes about.
The U.S.N.S.T.A. is committed to changing attitudes and behaviors through appropriate skills-based training, and we are looking forward to providing you with the training to rapidly enact necessary changes. Additionally, the U.S.N.S.T.A. is dedicated to providing a “One stop shop” approach to training. We are a clearing house of approved training resources, training and policy consultants and compliance specialists and we will assist departments in uncovering solutions to the issues that they face in day to day policing in this new environment. Through our numerous contacts and continuous research, we will ensure that any training offered by, or represented through the U.S.N.S.T.A., meets or exceeds any and all local, state, or Federal requirements and standards.
First, we’d like to better understand your specific needs. Once we have a clear picture of exactly where changes need to be made, we can provide you with existing training solutions used by many organizations around the country, or, if you prefer, our team of experts and partners can develop a custom-tailored solution just for you.
To explore these possibilities and more, please contact the U.S.N.S.T.A. for details.