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Attitude Similarities and Differences
In Police Tactics and Combative Measures

In previous articles for Arresting Solutions, differences in the techniques appropriate for police tactics and combative measures were discussed from various perspectives. Outside of the techniques themselves, there is another component to consider when looking at these two fighting systems: attitude.

The dictionary defines “attitude” as, “matter, disposition, or feeling with regard to a person or thing” (Random House Webster’s Dictionary). Let us begin by looking at some key points. The first point is focus. Both the law-enforcement officer and the G.I. must be focused in his/her position. This focus extends to being goal oriented about his/her respective tasks. While focus is a shared point, the difference is what the focus is on. For law-enforcement, the focus is on securing the arrest. For military, the focus is on the destruction of the enemy. Safety is another area where there are a similarities and differences in attitude. For the law-enforcement officer, it is the officer’s safety, as well as the safety of the prisoner. For the military, it is only the safety of the G.I. and his companions which is of prime importance.
Yet another area of similarity and difference is perception, i.e., how the “job” is perceived by the individuals themselves. It is a safe assumption to say the dedicated officer feels a responsibility towards his/her job. The task and challenge of maintaining the peace is a great one. There are ever-present dangers the officer faces daily, which may erupt into life-threatening situations. Without this sense of responsibility, the officer could not be effective in his/her position. The G.I. has the same commitment to his/her “job”, but it is more often viewed as a duty than a responsibility. The duty is to country, the office of the president, the Constitution, et al.


While the law-enforcement officer may certainly feel this loyalty as well, responsibility generally has accountability and obligations as the emphasis, being the source or the cause of something, and having the capability to make moral decisions. When we speak of duty, the implication is of the obligation to fulfill a task at hand, something that is both expected and required of the individual.

Lastly, there is the nature of the job itself. For law-enforcement, “policing” entails preventing and detecting crime, as well as enforcing the laws and arresting those who violate them. In an ideal situation, this is done with police and culprit coming through the process safely, with the officer returning to family and the culprit going to jail. For the G.I., the nature of the job is simpler – to kill the enemy. The enemy is breaking rules and codes of conduct on a different scale and level. Arresting the enemy is rarely an option in war. Even an elite police unit such as S.W.A.T. has as a goal officer and culprit coming out alive. Again, this is rarely a wartime option. This attitude difference is dramatically seen when the military is ordered to “police” areas. They often report difficulties in the mental attitude changes and adjustments which must be made when going from “soldier” to “cop”.

As an interesting final note, while the individual officers and G.I.s often fall into the categories discussed above, the greatest similarity is seen in those directly responsible for training them. Drill Sergeants, Drill Instructors, Military Training Instructors, and Police Tactics Instructors share an awesome responsibility. For greater detail and elaboration on this point, the authors refer the reader to a previous co-authored article in Arresting Solutions titled, “Creed in Combative Measures and Police Tactics”.

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