Today's law enforcement training requires a modern approach that fits the evolving needs of law enforcement officers, leaders, agencies, and the communities they serve.
In a recent webinar, well-known and respected law enforcement training leaders Sgt. Betsy Brantner Smith and Dave "JD Buck Savage" Smith, along with fellow law enforcement veteran and Vector Solutions Engineer Johnny Roberson, discussed critical challenges impacting training in today's era of policing and tangible ways to address them.
Keep reading for valuable highlights from their moving conversation and watch the on-demand recording for even deeper expert insights and an engaging Q&A session.
Betsy, Dave, and Johnny open the discussion with a classic crime-fighter tip training video of Dave "JD Buck Savage" Smith from the 1980s that uses humor and relatable references to illustrate how vital effective communication is in officer training.
Dave Smith acknowledges that a lot has changed since his time as JD Buck Savage, with a growing emphasis on officer mental health and increased scrutiny of police practices. He remarks how today's law enforcement training is one of the great stress points of American history, saying, "Law enforcement is in the eye of the storm."
Properly addressing the way we train and prepare officers today will be critical for the future of policing. And law enforcement trainers and leaders are key players in developing a healthy and productive workforce, requiring a life-long commitment to listening, learning, and growing.
Too often and for far too long, officers have been taught to just "survive" their experiences, not take work home, and not discuss difficulties with loved ones. While acknowledging the high rates of officer PTSD, suicide, and divorce, Dave emphasizes the growing need to reframe officers from just getting through an event to getting through life. He shares, "Surviving is getting home; winning is keeping the home."
Dave dives deep into several factors that impact an officer's mental posture and on/off-duty performance:
"Leadership has nothing to do with rank," Betsy emphasizes when talking about the importance of law enforcement leaders to guide change. "How are you communicating both internally and externally? We have to be effective on both fronts." The panel discusses how changes in law enforcement need to be grounded in reality and anchored in understanding human nature, not based on a utopian dream environment that doesn't work in the real world.
Exploring the demands that society puts on leadership, Dave, Betsy, and Johnny discuss how 'vision' and 'communication' are core tenets of creating successful change.
Betsy insists law enforcement professionals and their loved ones take off-duty safety seriously. "Talking about off-duty safety and off-duty survival is important. Not just for us, police personnel, but also for our families as well," she asserts and shares essential off-duty considerations.
Betsy states, "You empower your family and your close friends that you spend time with off-duty by talking to them about what might happen, what could happen."
Stream the presentation to learn more and get the answers to these important questions asked during the Q&A segment: