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FLETC: A Paradigm For Police Tactics?

For over 40 years, I’ve been involved with taiho-jutsu and police tactics, as a student, instructor, and researcher. Over the many years, I’ve studied, trained in, and observed numerous programs taught by a variety of individuals and agencies. Some of these programs were quite good (using taiho-jutsu as a gauge for comparison), others "better than nothing", and still others more dangerous and foolish than effective. If one were to watch COPS on television, officers may be observed using techniques which are grossly ineffective (or non-existent), to some which work only if the officer is assisted by others. Simply put, there is no consistency in the techniques taught to officers, even if the quality of the technique was high.

This inconsistency was reflected in federal law-enforcement until the late 1960s, when, after many studies conducted, it was concluded that there was an urgent need for high-quality, effective professional training. Money for this was allocated by Congress, and after some delays, the Federal Law Enforcement Training Center began operations. Today, approximately 22 Federal agencies receive training in one or more of the many programs offered at FLETC.

The question now becomes, should the FLETC model described above be applied for non-Federal law-enforcement training? At first glance, one would say it is not practical, since there are far too many local police departments alone to have a program of this sort implemented.


A second glance, however, is warranted. As an example, let us assume the FLETC basic and advanced programs for police officers is chosen. This exact program could first be adopted by state law-enforcement, since states already require their officers to undergo uniform training. We would then have 50 states utilizing the same system of police tactics, with the assumption (hope) that the quality of the techniques would be high.

The next law-enforcement agency to focus on would be the county agencies, i.e., the Sheriff Departments. Logistically, this may prove more difficult than with state agencies, since the numbers are greater. However, greater numbers mean more training facilities around the states could be built, allowing for all recruits to be directed to the appropriate geographic locale. Additionally, individual counties could contract with their state to provide the training. Since the training would now be uniform, it would not matter which patch was being worn by attendees. While local departments would certainly be more plentiful than either state or county departments, local departments could be regionally assigned to one of the many training facilities.

What needs to be re-emphasized is that, outside of administrative issues and concerns, the practical benefits of having a uniform, standardized system of police tactics is that the quality of the program, i.e., the techniques themselves, must be high. The ideal of having taiho-jutsu as the program of choice may not materialize, but there are some above-average programs available. In so doing, the quality of police tactics nationwide would no doubt continue to improve.


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