Part 2: Train the brain: Using decision making critiques to leverage lessons learned: Published at Police One

Train the Brain

“To learn as quickly as possible, we must be more deliberate, more disciplined, and more thorough in our approach in order to squeeze as much as possible from each experience, as with everything else about mental conditioning there is no magic here.” — Gary Klein

Last time, we examined how tactical decision games (TDGs) can be a simple, fun, and effective way to improve your decision making ability and tactical acumen.  We explored how the different forms of TDGs — solitary, group, and free play — work to build confidence in officers.  If you haven’t yet read part one in this two-part series, you really should click here.  That column, posted here on PoliceOne in late March, sets the foundation from which the following discussion will flow.  Okay, with that administrative stuff out of the way, let’s consider the decision making critique (DMC) — or after action review (AAR) — as another critical component to developing decision makers.

The DMC/AAR is conducted after the decisions are made and actions taken. You can use the after action review process after a TDG and should regularly use them after an actual event officers handled on the street. A candid, frank and open discussion takes place amongst the group involved in the TDG or actual incident to bring out lessons learned.

The goal of the DMC/AAR is to focus on key aspects of the incident, such as, were the decisions made in a timely manner? What was the rationale of the individual or group in making their decision?  Could we have done something better, safer, and more effective? Focus on every aspect from communications (both friendly and adversarial), tactical response and approach, perimeter set up and  containment, entry techniques or the ruse, surprise and/or deception you may have used to help you gain control. You should also examine arrest and search techniques and anything else you or other member of the shift or team, feel was a strength or weakness that lessons can be learned from.

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Stay Oriented!