It’s Time to Change Police Training: Moving Police From Warriors to Guardians


imagesCA925PZDI have been stressing this for quite some time now. In 1973, we in Madison transitioned away from the military model. It wasn’t easy, but the results are still present in the department and community over four decades later.

I have additionally blogged on the “stress model” that depicts half of our nation’s police training academies — stress-based training is warrior training — not how guardians are trained. See more HERE.

Recently, the Seattle PD and State of Washington under the leadership of Director Sue Rahr (a former police officer and county sheriff) are making some changes.

Why? This is from their local news:

“A police officer kicks a suspect who appears to be surrendering …
“A gang officer stomps on a Latino man and threatens him using a racial slur …
“An officer fatally shoots a woodcarver who was walking in a crosswalk …
“High profile examples of police officers escalating low-level incidents into major confrontations in Seattle, actions that put the city’s police department under a federal microscope and, ultimately, an expensive settlement agreement that mapped out sweeping reforms.”

The local website, King5, posted this:

“After years of training new officers to be ‘warriors,’ the academy’s new goal is to train them to be ‘guardians of democracy.’ Executive Director Sue Rahr said that’s because being an enforcer is only part of what an officer does.

“’It’s one of the tools that they use to improve public safety, but it’s not the only tool.  If an officer sees himself only as a warrior he’s more likely to use only those tools that a warrior would use. If an officer sees himself as a guardian, he is more likely to look a much broader set of tools to improve safety,’ Rahr said.

“Rahr took over as the training commission’s executive director two years ago, and she didn’t like what she saw.  I was surprised by how militaristic the protocols had become in the academy, much more militaristic than 35 years ago when I came through.

“Rahr went to work making changes. Recruits are no longer required to snap to attention when an instructor passes them in the halls. Rahr encourages more interaction between recruits and teachers and more discussion about ‘values and where our authority comes from,’ she said…

“I want every recruit that comes through this academy to internalize the constitutional values of our society…

“Rahr said for decades police have relied on a style of policing she described as ‘ask, tell, make’ — an aggressive approach that could needlessly escalate minor incidents into full-blown confrontations in which officers felt compelled to use force. There’s more emphasis now on teaching recruits something called LEED — which stands for ‘listen and explain with equity and dignity.’

“According to Rahr, people are far more compliant if they feel they are being treated with respect.  “The science and research tell us that if you disrespect a person there is a chemical reaction that happens in the brain that will cause people to become resistive and uncooperative,” she said…

“’Officers need to be able to switch into that warrior mode in a split second, but they also need to be able to switch into the guardian mode, once the situation is under control,’ she said.

To see the entire article, CLICK HERE


Last year I blogged about the importance of police moving away from stress-based (warrior) training.

“Let’s Hear It Once More About How To Train Police” June 7, 2013

“A Better Way to Train” July 19, 2013

“Hazing and Bullying in the Police Academy” December 16, 2013





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