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Maintenance and Mastery

RCMP Cst. Gareth Newcombe holds an off-cover shooting position during an Immediate Action Rapid Deployment Outdoor course. Today's police training is constantly being adapted to better prepare officers for the realities of a modern world. Credit: Leann Parker, RCMP

For every cadet who graduates from the RCMP's training academy known as Depot, each has trained for 785 intensive hours in defensive tactics, firearms, driving, fitness, applied police sciences, drill and detachments visits.

But for all those hours of practice at Depot, training doesn't end there. Police training today is a career-long affair that's constantly being adapted to prepare officers for the realities of a modern world — be it a large-scale protest, a lethal-force encounter, a dangerous substance or a distressed person.

Deidre Seiden looks at two areas in which RCMP training has recently evolved or expanded based on need: the rise of fentanyl and increasing contacts with people in crisis. Seiden describes the RCMP's new fentanyl guidelines and naloxone training, and the force's de-escalation training, two courses that equip police with the skills and awareness they need to save lives and stay safe every day.

Amelia Thatcher explains the RCMP's annual firearms qualification (AFQ), which last year updated its approach to training officers on their force-issued pistols. Gone are the days of target practice. The new AFQ better prepares officers for real-life situations and offers more tips for improving.

Thatcher also explores the RCMP's field coaching program, an integral part of each Mountie's training beyond Depot. Experienced officers guide new constables in their first few months, ensuring the skills they've learned are well applied in their new communities. As one mentor says, "the coaches provide a bridge between theory and practice."

We speak to four experienced RCMP instructors who teach courses ranging from basic driving and firearms to police investigations and the patrol carbine. Find out what they say about how training has changed, and what today's courses offer police.

Specialized training provides officers and others the chance to expand their basic skillset to work in highly technical or focused areas such as police dive teams, remotely piloted aircraft systems, and bloodstain pattern analysis. New technology and contemporary teaching approaches feature heavily in these specialty courses — and lead to operational success.

Finally, we examine the subject of police resilience — an officer's ability to recover from the stresses of work.

Ruth Lamb, a nurse and instructor in British Columbia, looks at the latest practices that can help first responders train their brains to cope during traumatic encounters — and heal afterward. While Judith Andersen and a team of researchers in Toronto look at how police-specific stress can be measured, and each officer's performance improved, through reality-based training. Both have implications for reducing operational stress injuries.

This issue is devoted to all that police officers do to maintain and expand their skills and knowledge throughout their careers. Because continuous improvement never gets old.

This article was originally posted on January 13, 2017 by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police Gazette Volume 79, Number 01.
by Katherine Aldred


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