Thursday, September 21, 2023
The City of Goshen and the Goshen Chamber of Commerce yesterday hosted Governor Eric Holcomb and the Indiana Economic Development Corporation (IEDC). The board had a series of meetings as part of their quarterly business event followed by a public session at the Goshen Theater with more... more
Wednesday, September 20, 2023
The Indiana Association of Floodplain and Stormwater Managers (INAFSM) awarded the City of Goshen the Outstanding Floodplain Project Award for creating and implementing the Goshen Flood Resilience Plan during its annual conference last week. The annual statewide award recognizes an outstanding... more
Tuesday, September 19, 2023
The final brush pickup of the year will begin the week of September 25, 2023. During scheduled brush collections, the Street Department will make only one pass through the city to pick up brush. Please have your brush by the front curb, but not in the street, by 7:00 a.m. in the morning on... more
Monday, September 25, 2023
Monday, September 25, 2023, 2:00pm
To join the webinar please copy and paste this link on your browser: https://us02web.zoom.us/j/82986722338 or call 309-205-3325. Webinar ID: 829 8672 2338. Comments are no longer taken online.
Monday, September 25, 2023, 7:00pm
This meeting is in-person only.
Indiana State Required Mandates
When answering the question about what type of training is conducted by the Goshen Police Department, a good place to start is what is required by the state of Indiana for maintaining certification.
Currently, the Indiana Law Enforcement Training Board requires a 40-hour pre-basic course before an officer has police powers and can begin training on the road. That 40-hour pre-basic must include 8 hours of physical tactics and use of force, driving, and 3 successful completions of the ILEA firearms qualification course. Within the first year of employment that officer must attend the Indiana Law Enforcement Academy for 600 hours of training.
After graduating from the academy, each officer must train a minimum of 24 hours per year, of which 2 hours must be in physical tactics, 2 hours in firearms, and 2 hours in police vehicle operation. Part of that 24 hours must include the following topics:
So, 40-hour pre-basic, 600-hour academy within the first year, and 24 hours with specific required topics each year after to maintain your certification as an officer in Indiana.
Goshen Police Department’s Training
Before going into the types and frequency of training for the Goshen Police Department; it’s important to cover some of the ‘why’. What determines, besides what is written into state statute, on which topics we train and for how long? The reasons behind choosing each training are multiple and varied. Department requirements, budgets, and available time each play a part in the decisions and within certain constraints we adjust our training as much as possible to best prepare and teach our officers for the realities of complex decision making in a rapidly evolving environment.
Many of the skills that are required in law enforcement are psychomotor skills. Psychomotor skills are skill sets that involve both cognitive function and physical movement. The big three psychomotor skills in law enforcement are driving, firearms, and physical tactics.
On Learning Skills or ‘Muscle Memory’
Typically, psychomotor skills can be placed into one of three categories, which are generally defined as gross, fine, and complex motor skills. Gross motor skills are those that use large muscle groups and generally employ simple movements. Fine motor skills are usually the smaller muscle groups with controlled movement. An example of a gross motor skill would be a person’s natural reaction to falling by throwing one or both arms out to catch themselves. A fine motor skill would be taking a key out of your pocket and unlocking a door with it. Complex motor skills then are those skills that combine both gross and fine motor skills. A law enforcement example of a complex motor skill would be drawing a handgun from a holster and then accurately firing it.
What this means for us in law enforcement is that all psychomotor skills are skills that must be learned. While this may seem obvious, many people, especially outside the profession, do not understand what that really entails.
‘Muscle Memory’ is a term heard frequently in law enforcement and sports circles. While we won’t go into great detail here as to what exactly the term means, suffice it to say it represents a form of procedural memory gained from multiple repetitions of a certain skill. An officer practicing drawing his firearm from his holster multiple times each day would be an example of building that ‘muscle memory’.
There are many different opinions on how many repetitions it takes before something becomes ‘muscle memory’. Numbers ranging from hundreds to thousands of repetitions have been argued. Malcolm Gladwell indicated in his book that instead of numbers, it was 10,000 hours before achieving ‘muscle memory’. There is of course variance based on the individual, and the skill being learned. What this means for us in law enforcement is that when we begin to train a new officer in any psychomotor skill, there is required an initial training period just to learn the skill before they ever reach a period of training in which they start to achieve ‘muscle memory’. The quality of this initial training cannot be overstated. Everyone has heard the phrase ‘practice makes perfect.’ The truth is, perfect practice makes perfect. It has been estimated that performing a repetition incorrect once will require 100 correct repetitions to erase.
Why do we care about officers being trained to the point of ‘muscle memory’? Why is it not good enough just to train them to minimum standards?
On ‘Fight or Flight’
In the previous paragraph we explained psychomotor skills being grouped into gross, fine, and complex motor skills. Fine and complex motor skills are controlled by the parasympathetic nervous system (PNS). The PNS also controls cognitive processing, and is dominant during non-stress environments. When the brain detects a perceived threat, the sympathetic nervous system (SNS) takes over involuntarily. The SNS is what is commonly referred to as the ‘fight or flight system’.
When our brain activates the SNS, only gross motor skills are performed anywhere near optimally. All fine and complex motor skills suffer immensely when the SNS overrides the PNS.
How do we fight this? By using as many gross motor skills as possible in our psychomotor training, and performing enough repetitions of fine and complex motor skills until the skill becomes ‘muscle memory’ and the officer performs it without conscious thought. We see this in law enforcement in high stress situations when an officer acts without conscious thought to a danger in the environment. We also see the reverse of this, a lack of sufficient training, when an officer ‘freezes’ during a high stress incident.
On Action versus Reaction
Another reason ‘muscle memory’ is so important for law enforcement is reaction time. By its very nature, law enforcement is a reactive profession. In almost all encounters, officers have to wait for an act before they can react to a situation. This is critical because action is faster than reaction. In most encounters of any kind, a slow person that acts first will achieve their goal before a fast person that is reacting to them. This is due in part to the thought process all individuals must go through before executing an action/skill.
This thought process is often referred to as the OODA Loop. The term was developed by USAF Colonel John Boyd, and breaks decision making down into Observing, Orienting, Deciding, and Acting. One must observe a change in the environment, orient themselves to that change, decide what they are going to do, and then act to do so. What this means is that an officer never just fires a gun, blocks a strike, or applies the brakes when avoiding an object in the roadway. He/she has to see a change in their environment, decide what the response is, and then act physically to carry out the response. The first person to act has already gone through the OODA Loop; the person reacting is just starting theirs. One of the few ways we can combat this, and attempt to ‘catch up’ is to decrease the decision-to-action time by achieving ‘muscle memory’ in the skill that is employed. This not only is safer for the officer, but is also safer for everyone involved in the situation, as an extended reaction time can lead to an officer using an incorrect response in an attempt to ‘rush’ through the OODA Loop process.
What kind of times are we talking about? To know how fast something can be done, especially when we are talking about rapidly evolving, high-stress confrontations, one of the best sources to go to is the Force Science Institute. https://www.forcescience.org/about/ The Force Science Institute (FSI) has been conducting empirical research in behavioral science and human dynamics for some time. They have presented findings at academic conferences and published their peer reviewed work in a variety of academic and professional outlets.
So how fast are actions? Below are a small sample of times gathered in a studies by FSI:
How fast can someone react? First you must detect a change in your environment, the commit your body to an action.
That reaction time is without stress. The more stress, the more complex the skill set, the greater the reaction time. Action is faster than reaction. There are biological limits to human performance. While that may seem obvious, most people’s frame of reference for violence is Hollywood. It is easy to consciously state that you are well aware movie violence is fake, but the human mind hates disorder and will draw on former experience to make sense of the information it is taking in. If you only frame of reference is Hollywood, then that is what you will draw from, consciously or not.
So, should the goal of training be just to achieve ‘muscle memory’ in officers? Once that is achieved, is there any reason to continue to practice?
On Skill Retention
Studies and articles have been done both in the military community and private sector regarding skill retention. What all agree on, is that in the absence of practice, all skills will degrade over time. The amount of degradation and time vary with the types and complexity of the skills.
One study commissioned by the Army found that the decay of the skill, and relearning required for it, were functions of the task complexity and number of steps involved. The Army found that twelve months after training a skill involving nine steps, 50 percent of the students could still perform the skill. That’s only half. A skill tested that involved fifteen steps, fewer than 10 percent could perform. To put this in perspective for us, drawing and firing a handgun, using all the building blocks we teach officers in training, would be in the area of twelve steps. (This number could go down, or even up, depending on how you break down the process) You can see how an extended period of no training would be disastrous in regards to ability to shoot accurately.
How often then should practice be conducted? The easy answer is as often as possible, but money and time are ever present factors. What we do know is this. Discrete skills, a skill with a defined beginning and end (firing a gun), decay very quickly without practice, measured in a period of days and weeks, as opposed to months and years. They cannot be maintained without practice.
We know that training spaced apart is better than massed all at one time. An example of this would be if we were going to conduct twelve hours of training in a month, it would be better to train three days for four hours spaced equally throughout the month as opposed to one twelve hour day.
We also know that when initially training a skill, it is far better to train beyond the minimum skill needed. This results in not only the obvious higher level of skill, but better retention. It cannot be over-emphasized that any training is negated if the training intervals are too long.
New Hire Training
When the Goshen Police Department hires a new officer, barring issues of manpower, they receive initial training well in excess of the 40 pre-basic required by the ILETB. In addition to completing the required pre-basic, we also train in many topics which change, expand, or contract based on need. We currently train our new officers in:
So, in addition to the 40-hour pre-basic, the Goshen Police Department trains each new officer an additional 118 hours minimum, and sometimes much more depending on the needs of the new recruit. At least three times during initial training new officers take part in multiple scenarios that requires decision making, verbal communication, and application of tactics and techniques. Every scenario is debriefed with instructors. Before being allowed to have a rifle in their squad car, each officer must go through a patrol rifle course consisting of an additional 27 hours.
After the initial training, each officer is then assigned to the field training program where they will train under the care of a Field Training Officer (FTO). They will complete three phases with three FTOs. Each phase consists of tasks and learning required to move on to the next phase. A written test must be passed at each phase, and a practical exam must also be passed at the end of the third phase before the new officer is released on their own. A trainee is in the field training program for generally 400 hours, although this can be extended when required. Depending on when the ILEA academy class starts for the new recruit, this could be before, during, or after the field training program.
Currently the Goshen Police Department employs an in-service training program that consists of monthly 4 hour training sessions for each officer. If the officer does not miss any months of training, their in-service training for the year comes to 48 hours. While this number has varied over the years, our goal has always been to increase skill set and retention as much as possible. What the purchase of the Goshen Police Department range has allowed us to do is have access to a firing range without concern for range rental or schedule conflicts that we always had in the past. Once the training building is completed, we will have the vast majority of all our training needs in one place, allowing us to tweak training even more in the future to increase skill and retention. As noted above, those skills that are psychomotor in nature need regular training. The less frequently they are used on duty, the more frequently they need to be trained, especially when they are almost exclusively employed in high-stress situations.
A 4 hour training block for a given month may be one topic only, such as simulator training, or it may be multiple topics, such as firearms, physical tactics, and tourniquet training. Our instructor core is constantly evaluating the department’s training, what we’re seeing in the field, and new needs as they come up to decide what training for each year will consist of.
Currently the in-service training, by topic and frequency, looks like this:
Breaking down the topics a little further looks like this:
Firearms skills- Safe usage and handling of both handgun and rifle; review of case law that relates to lethal force; review of policy; when to shoot, when not to; low light and no light shooting; the importance of verbal commands; assessing a situation.
Qualifications- Course of fire required to be passed by each officer every year to carry their duty firearms.
Physical Tactics- Levels of force; case law that relates to use of force; review of policy; importance of verbal skills and commands; proper handcuffing; protection of yourself/others.
Police Vehicle Operations- Review of department’s vehicular policy; safe operation at slow speeds; safe operation at high speeds; pursuit driving; radio traffic; case law relating to vehicle operations.
Taser- Classroom and practical scenarios for proper usage of the Taser device; case law relating to CEW usage; decision making in regards to usage.
Scenario Training- Scenarios involving instructors as role-players requiring officers to assess situations, decide on correct course of action and then bring the scenario to a successful conclusion. Scenarios can range from extremely short and simple to multi-officer responses that are complex and lengthy in nature. Correct assessment and proper response is stressed. Scenarios can be over any aspect of law enforcement and are constantly being changed to reflect training needs and even issues seen outside our jurisdiction. Communication, from radio traffic to interaction with the role-players, is stressed. All scenarios as debriefed and discussed. Successful conclusion of scenarios always has a numerical bias away from lethal force. An example is, if we have six scenarios to train officers on, at least four of them will have no lethal force response.
Mandates- listed above, those topics required by the State of Indiana to be covered each year.
Active Killer- Often scenario in nature, this training is tactics and techniques to respond to any active and ongoing loss of life. Currently the Goshen Police Department conducts one large drill each year with Goshen Schools in addition to the bi-annual training to prepare officers to respond. Training is also conducted with the Goshen Fire Department to facilitate safe and rapid response to the injured in an active event.
Simulator Training- While the same concept as scenario training, it differs in that there are no live role-players other than the officer. The officer is responding to programmed scenarios playing out. The instructor can change the outcome of the scenario based on verbal skills and decisions made by the officer. The pre-filmed scenarios allow us to put officers in situations that we cannot recreate with our instructors in person.
S.T.O.P.S.- Tactics, techniques, and communication skills for anytime an officer deploys from a police vehicle. Case law is reviewed relating to traffic stops and vehicles. This training is almost always conducted with the Police Vehicle Operations training. Generally it is scenario based requiring officers to work through simple to complex situations. Each scenario is debriefed. The effect of stress on the brain, as well as performance, is often covered with S.T.O.P.S. With the increase of enough stress the forebrain effectively shuts down and the midbrain takes over. When that happens you switch from thinking to simply reacting. Tactics and techniques for combatting this are discussed and taught.
Persuasion- This topic requires a lengthy explanation, as questions about ‘de-escalation’ come up frequently.
The Goshen Police Department most assuredly teaches verbal skill-sets to our officers. The reason we say verbal skill-set is because ‘De-escalation’ as the term is often used is something of a misnomer. ‘De-escalation’ is an outcome, not one specific skill, and ‘de-escalation’ of a situation is not always verbal, but sometimes physical in application. An example of this would be if our officers are called to a domestic altercation and upon arrival witness a male subject battering a female subject. Our officers pulling the male subject away from the female, while advising what the male subject needs to stop doing, would be successful ‘de-escalation’ of the situation.
During training, we refer to ‘de-escalation’ as persuasion. Our goal is to persuade people to voluntarily comply with lawful commands. This is the goal of law enforcement across the country. In the US, as a whole, the law enforcement profession is extremely good at this. A slow year for law enforcement in the country is well above 50 million contacts with people. Only a small fraction of those contacts result in force. The Goshen Police Department contacted well over 30,000 people last year with less than 50 incidents in which anything over compliant handcuffing was required. That means physical force was used just over .001 percent of the time.
Every year we teach the Persuasion class. The class is taught as an integrated approach to officer/citizen interactions. We teach ‘de-escalation’ as an outcome, and that persuasion is an integration of communication combined with physical tactics when necessary. We teach our officers to recognize what kind of event they are responding to, and when the event allows (meaning it is not actively deteriorating) to use persuasion to slow the tempo of the event. This increases opportunities, and gives time to make decisions using the forebrain, as opposed to just reacting because stress has caused the midbrain to take over.
We teach that every time we interact with anyone, the officer and the person(s) they are dealing with all have influence on the zone between them. That influence is physical, temporal, and psychological. We teach our officers to try and maintain influence in all three zones, which allows options for resolution. This MAY allow our officers time to establish contact, build rapport, and establish influence, all three of which are required to successfully persuade an individual. We emphasize with our officers that if they cannot establish rapport with an individual, they cannot influence the individual.
We teach our officers the importance of communication of all types, including body language. We discuss the fact that most people, unwittingly or no, develop an impression of someone within 2-7 seconds of meeting them, whether any words were spoken or not. We go over 5 universal truths when dealing with people. We discuss the importance of time and distance. Time allows the brain to decide between courses of action and pick the best choice. We cover the OODA Loop, and Recognition Primed Decision Making. We make sure we cover the fact that when you take away distance, you start to take away time. We then discuss knowing when distance is helping the issue, and recognizing when it is not.
We discuss how to persuade, trying to determine the subject’s perspective, purpose, and holism. We teach our officers not to try and diagnose anyone, as it requires much more time and information than we will have on scene. We teach looking at the situation to determine what is needed. Is this a criminal issue and ultimately an arrest must be made? Is this a civil issue and this is a person suffering from contaminated thinking (more on that) and they need help?
We then teach our officers techniques for establishing contact, building that rapport with the person(s), and establishing influence. We then cover contaminated thinking. For the purposes of the persuasion course, contaminated thinking is a condition of thinking in which the person has lost the ability (either temporarily or permanently) to clearly, logically, and / or rationally understand their environment. (Azar-Dickens, 2017) This loss could be caused by mental illness, medical illness, a head injury, substance intoxication, developmental disabilities, environmental toxins, or any combination of the above. We teach our officers that we want them to use persuasion to improve their ability to manage human beings by establishing contact, building rapport, and gaining influence……this is regardless if the person has contaminated thinking or not. The end goal, whether criminal or civil, does not change. The only thing that changes is how you are going to communicate with that person. We then give our officers techniques for trying to establish influence with a contaminated thinker.
Finally, we teach our officers to do something that seems simple but is hard to do under stress. Evaluate if what you are doing is working. If it is, continue. If it is not, you need to change tactics. We also then discuss the fact that sometimes, an officer can do everything right, and they are still not going to be able to influence someone. We then talk about considerations if you are responding as a single officer, or more than one officer. A final video example of good persuasion is shown at the end.
It’s important to note that the persuasion skills are expected to be used in all of our scenario training.
Legal Updates- Changes to law or new case law that affect our department
It is important to note that this list is by no means all inclusive. These are just an example of topics that are taught on a regular basis. This is also just a sample of training Goshen officers attend during the normal course of a year.
For many officers, the in-service training is only the beginning of the training they receive. Depending on your role with the Goshen Police Department, you will require additional specialized training for that position. The amount of that training varies considerably based on what you are training for. A few examples are below.
Detectives for the Goshen Police Department will attend multiple courses pertaining to their work. From basic detective schools to classes that specialize in specific case topics such as property crimes, child crimes, homicide, etc.
K-9 handlers attend a lengthy initial course for training together with their K-9 partner. Continuing training is conducted throughout the career of the K-9 and requires a great deal of time.
Recently the special units from the Elkhart County Sheriff’s Office, the Elkhart Police Department, and the Goshen Police Department, combined to form the Elkhart County Regional SWAT Team. Goshen personnel who are assigned to the team train additionally twice a month, and one additional week a year. Depending on your assignment on the team, additional specialized schooling is required.
All instructors for the Goshen Police Department go through specialized schooling. Depending on the topics taught by the instructor, that schooling can be specific to one topic, or cover broad areas. All training that receives credit from the ILEA requires an ILEA certified instructor. Certification as a general instructor is taught only by Academy approved Master Instructors. All psychomotor skill instructing then requires additional training in that specific skill. Instructors are required to teach a minimum number of hours to retain their certification.