Left of Bang is a concept that is gaining traction within the Marine Corps Combat Hunter Program, emphasizing the importance of actions taken before a violent event occurs. In a recent commentary by Michael Malpass titled “Taming the Serpent,” he highlights the need for law enforcement agencies to adopt left-of-bang concepts in their training.
Malpass begins by expressing his concerns about the current state of law enforcement training. He argues that most police officers, unless they take the initiative to train on their own, are not adequately prepared for the challenges they may face in the field. He believes that a shift away from the traditional “check the box” style of training is necessary, as it often wastes time and resources.
One area of training that Malpass believes is ineffective is firearms qualification. He explains that most police agencies conduct annual qualifications that involve firing a set number of rounds at a stationary paper target from a static position. While this may seem sufficient on the surface, Malpass argues that it fails to simulate real-life scenarios where officers are faced with moving targets and high-stress situations.
To address this issue, Malpass suggests incorporating stress exposure training into firearms range practices. He outlines several benefits of this approach, including improved decision-making skills under stress, increased confidence and performance, better physiological responses to stress, enhanced situational awareness, and improved safety for both officers and civilians.
Moreover, Malpass emphasizes the importance of proficiency in one’s equipment. He draws a parallel to military training, where soldiers are required to become highly skilled in the use of their assigned equipment. He believes that police officers should undergo similar testing under duress to ensure their proficiency and effectiveness.
Scenario-based training is another area that Malpass believes is lacking in the field of law enforcement. While specialized units such as SWAT teams often undergo such training, patrol officers are rarely exposed to it. Malpass argues that all officers should receive scenario-based training that challenges them to think critically and make quick decisions in complex situations.
Research supports the benefits of stress exposure training in law enforcement. Studies have found that exposure to stress during training can reduce symptoms of PTSD and improve coping strategies among new officers. Additionally, officers who undergo stress exposure training are less likely to be involved in use-of-force incidents, improving community trust and reducing excessive force complaints.
In conclusion, Malpass asserts that law enforcement officers must be trained not only for the physical demands of the job but also for the mental challenges they may face. He calls for increased funding and support from elected officials to ensure that law enforcement training meets the same caliber as that of special forces and elite units. By adopting left-of-bang concepts, law enforcement agencies can better prepare their officers for the realities of the job while promoting officer well-being and community safety.