As I write this, the 2017 International Law Enforcement Educators and Trainers Association (ILEETA) Conference in full swing. As such, it seemed like a great time to present an article on training.
A popular meme and expression in my strength training world is “Do you even lift?” The target, of course, are those who are occupying gym space but doing anything but actually getting in a solid workout (usually involves an electronic device). With that expression in mind, the focus of this article asks a similar question: “Do you even train?” In all seriousness, and with all the issues with face on “the street” (especially over the last eight years), the question is a legitimate one.
In his seminars, my friend Lt. Col. Dave Grossman rightly calls out those in our profession who have drifted away from our sheepdog ethos (if it was ever there to begin with). That “call out” typically includes a good natured gig at golf. Now understand that my intent here is not to shame anyone but rather to encourage and motivate. If you got into law enforcement for the right reasons, you did because you were called to it. That calling comes with certain responsibilities, and among those are keeping up with our mental, physical and yes (this is The Chaplain’s Corner) spiritual training. Let’s break it down:
- Mental Training: “Mental training” you might ask? How much time do you spend keeping up with case law? Search and seizure updates? Leadership training (by leadership I mean SERVANT-leadership)? Mandated POST training? Policy and procedure review (you know your chief keeps changing it…)? Reviewing the pass-on book or even paying attention in briefing? Being a true professional aside, the ultimate answer is that staying current with these issues will go a long way to keep you and your agency out of hot water (including saving your career or, in these tenuous times, even keeping you out of jail). Is it boring and time consuming? Yes, but it is most certainly necessary. Frankly, a lot of this kind of training is now available online in various formats, and certainly keeping up with Law Officer is a great way to help stay current.
- Physical Training: When I entered the law enforcement profession in the 1980’s, I had the advantage of already being a dedicated shooter, martial artist, drug-free lifter and strength athlete. Unfortunately (especially for those of us genetically-challenged types) some of the uber-heavy training I engaged in took a toll on my joints and health. If I had it to do over again (and had I been more aware), I would have certainly interjected a whole lot more CrossFit (or related disciplines) into my training regimen. I got a taste of that in my prep for what I did in a kilt as a Highland heavy athletics and enjoyed it immensely. That said, my point here is that spending regular time (time again being a limiting factor) on the range and in the gym and dojo has to be a part of what it means to be a professional law enforcement officer. Excuses abound, but, even with advancing age and two hip replacement surgeries, I’m still getting after it, and so can you. Moreover, if you’re in a position of leadership, you MUST make the effort to set an example for your troopers.
Understand this: beyond the obvious positive benefits of warrior-focused physical training (stress relief, health and fitness), to not be well-prepared in this area is to truly place yourself, your family, your colleagues and the public we are charged with serving and protecting at risk.
With this in mind, Law Officer has excellent health and fitness-relevant resources for you that I recommend highly (and no, I’m not getting paid for these endorsements): Law Officer Fitness. One of these, the trustworthy BluArmor line of supplements (and their Safety Stack in particular) is one that I’ve benefited from personally.
- Spiritual Training: I should not have to remind anyone about what we deal with as a profession in areas such stress (including PTSD), divorce (up to eighty percent), alcoholism and suicide. There is a cure for that! Understand that I make no apologies for being (by God’s grace) a Christian who holds to God’s truth that His way is the only way (John 14:6). So the “cure” I mentioned? It is ultimately found in a genuine, personal relationship with the ultimate servant-warrior, Jesus Christ. Do you know Him? Obviously, the best “training” I can recommend in this area is to spend time in God’s wholly (and Holy) inerrant word, the Bible and by being part of a solid, Bible-teaching church. Beyond that, a huge part of what we do in law enforcement ministry is through regular “iron sharpens iron” fellowship with other, like-minded Christian officers. Accordingly, and on this subject in general, take the time to check out the many FREE resources we’ve made available for you through The Centurion Law Enforcement Ministry and the Fellowship of Christian Peace Officers – USA.
In closing, understand that my good-natured, “Do you even train, bro?” question is ultimately a challenge and encouragement for you to do just that: establish and maintain a reasonable physical, mental and spiritual training regimen. In doing so, you’ll cut into your stress while positively impacting your health and our profession in a multitude of ways (not to mention the eternal benefits on the spiritual side). Train smart, train hard and stay safe.
Michael “MC” Williams is an active police officer, state criminal investigator, chaplain/minister and police instructor with more than three decades on “the job.” As a contributor to Law Officer’s Chaplain’s Corner, he provides a biblical, front sight focus on the daily issues we face in law enforcement. MC is a sought-after speaker who serves as the Director of the Centurion Law Enforcement Ministry and is a past National Board Vice President of the Fellowship of Christian Peace Officers – USA. MC can be reached at email@example.com.