Trinity of Training- Family, Body, Mind

Author: Sgt Joseph Zalenski
Author’s Email Address: CLICK HERE to email Sgt. Zalenski
Author’s Agency or Organization: Cape Coral Police Department, Florida USA
Author’s Web Site: n/a

To survive this career, an officer must be exposed to concepts that are not covered in the police academy. An officer must prepare the family for the unique situations that may arise and their own body both mentally and physically. Several police training concepts have been embraced trainers in my agency and presented to officers and spouses. LTC Dave Grossman’s books On Killing and On Combat have exposure nationally. Dr Bill Lewinski of the Force Science Research Center at UM Mankato and his work is published. Ken Murray, author of Training at the Speed of Life and his training classes have been attended nationally. Dr. Kevin Gilmartin’s presentation Emotional Survival for Law Enforcement has been re-discovered by another generation of officers.

These four men have shaped training concepts for the past 5 years. Training itself can be used to encompass matters on and off-duty. These tools must be used outside of a vacuum and need to be comprehended in a larger sphere of officer perspective- blended, with a focus on the whole. Police succumb to many threats: Officer safety issues are addressed through Murray’s reality based training, personal stresses such as finances, divorce, “red-zone” aftershocks and the like are addressed by Emotional Survival’s coping concepts, Force Science identifies many of the areas we need to concentrate our precious few training hours and allow us to project the need for skill building, and Dave Grossman’s books allow us to better understand the physiological reactions to not only the stress associated with critical on-duty moments, but the residual after affects that linger in the mind.

Weaving these concepts together to better educate and train our officers is a win-win proposition. As time goes on in the officer’s career, these concepts presented by FTO’s and trainers need to be reinforced. I was likely weeks away from my wife’s departure when I attended Emotional Survival. I called her and told her I knew why I was behaving the way I was and I knew how to stop it. It was then she admitted how close I was to being alone. She read On Combat and understood better the mindset I had adopted and knew how to identify the residual emotional and psychological effects of stressful incidents.

It is equally important for ranking officers to endure the “pain” of training. First, if they wear a uniform they are a bull’s eye. Secondly, it enables them to better sit in judgment of officers in their command when they understand and recognize situations for what they are and how officers are trained. It is one thing to approve a written document, quite another to undergo the stress of training.

These concepts could fill an entire book, let alone a single page. Focus on our officers must be a total package concept or we risk losing our greatest resource to a myriad of threats that could easily be addressed through training and education that is available- if law enforcement as a whole can step away from the “we always did it that way and we don’t want to change” mindset.


Recommended Resources:
On Killing and On Combat by LTC Dave Grossman
-Training at the Speed of Life by Ken Murray
-Emotional Survival for Law Enforcement by Dr. Kevin Gilmartin
-Force Science Institute, Ltd. Studying the Science & Human Dynamics Behind Deadly Force Encounters
Dr. Bill Lewinski, Director

Resource Web Sites:

Author’s Biography:
Sergeant Joseph Zalenski is a Patrol Sergeant and former Training Unit member with the Cape Coral Police Department, Lee County, Florida. A 14 year veteran, he has certifications in lethal and less-than-lethal implements and developed other classes to address training needs. NRA Pistol, Rifle, Shotgun, CJSTC Certified Firearms Instructor, Taser Instructor, ASP & Monadnock Baton, Pepperball & extended range impact rounds, Reality Based Training Instructor & others. He has attended seminars by LTC Grossman and Dr Gilmartin in person.

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