By George Demetriou
We just learned of a police officer’s encounter with a violent offender where the offender not only assaulted the officer, but was able to get the officer’s firearm from his holster. Fortunately, the offender ran off instead of shooting the officer, even as a crowd urged the bad guy to “kill the cop”.
The officer survived the vehicle pursuit, foot pursuit, assault and gun disarming so in our book he did enough things right to fight another day and we’re glad for his well being and his service.
Good trainers will look to these situations to gather what lessons can be learned from them. Obviously things could have gone better for the officer, but they also could have been worse.
Of the lessons learned what stood out most was the statement the officer made about his level of physical conditioning. The officer stated he was “in decent shape”. It stood out because I have made the same assessment of myself many times during my law enforcement career. The problem, or what could have been a problem, was we found out what being in good shape really is well into our career.
We have to define what being in “decent shape” really means. For most people it means being in better shape than the person who never trains and isn’t particular about what or how much they eat. For many people the standard of being in shape is just so low. Everyone has their own version of what “decent shape” is, but it’s rare that the obvious question is ever asked.
“Decent” enough for what?
Law enforcement officers rarely ever get to pick the time, location, environmental conditions or choice of bad guys. The bad guys make most of those decisions. Law enforcement officers never know when a low risk contact with someone is going to turn into a deadly struggle. Being in “decent” as opposed to “excellent” shape does not cut it on the street when the officer is rolling around with a larger, motivated, violent offender.
We respectfully submit that if the workouts you are doing do NOT involve varied exercises consisting of explosive strength, lifts with maximum weight, workouts of high intensity at short durations, and workouts that involve the whole body within the same session then you are not in decent shape for winning the life and death fight. More specifically, law enforcers need to be in the shape that reflects the real life of the profession. Not on the typical day, but on the day you come across the person who is willing and able to stomp you to death.
Workouts that are hours long in duration have absolutely nothing to do with a 100 meter sprint to catch the bad guy then engage in an unarmed fight. Obviously, if you are training this way currently this message is not for you personally. This message is intended for the uninitiated. Spread the word to as many law enforcers as you can.
To the best of my knowledge, there has never been an incident where an officer was killed during a close proximity struggle, that lasted more than 30 seconds. That’s usually 30 seconds of the body working at full capacity. If, as a law enforcement officer, your workouts do not reflect this intensity for several minutes, at least occasionally, you cannot possibly be physically prepared for such an event. If you’ve never completed a workout that left you feeling like your heart was going to tear from your chest or if you’ve never come close to puking then your workouts are not conducive to winning the life and death fight. The workouts that do the most to prepare one for the rigors of a close combat event are the ones that you’d like to quit, but don’t. They are the workouts that cause your lungs to burn and your muscles to feel as if they’re about to seize, but your mind continues to force you to work.
Law enforcement officers ONLY have control over their own mental, emotional and physical preparedness as well as their equipment. All other factors are unknown and are often dictated by the bad guys.
All law enforcers understand that they need to be in “good” shape. On the agency training level, varied and intense workouts have not gained wide acceptance yet. There are many out there making the effort, but change is extremely slow. In the meantime we need to draw clear distinctions and ask pointed questions when the subject of being in “decent” shape comes up. We need to educate law enforcers as to what is truly functional training, what’s going to help them go home after every shift, and what training is better left by the wayside.
Stay safe, Train with intensity.