Strategy and Tactics For Handling Dynamic Encounters Workshop September 25th 2009 Presented by Fred Leland

“The origins of human violence are complex. Thinkers, historians, and scientists have explored the issue for centuries, but answers remain elusive. The roots of a violent act are multiple, intricate, and intertwined. The mix of factors varies according to the individual and the circumstances. Understanding violence after it has occurred is difficult enough. Trying to assess a threat and keep it from being carried out is even more of a challenge.”

Common Scenario, Unpredictable Results 

Its a cloudy Friday morning about 8:20AM. You have your hot cup of coffee or if you are of the younger generation a jolt or red bull and all is quiet. Quiet and slow. Quiet and slow is good in your work because your work is to protect the citizens of a community. That community could be a state, city or town, a university or campus. It could also be a federal building, nuclear power plant, hospital, hotel, bank, mall,  housing development or business.

You could be a cop, contract security or safety and security professional. Regardless of which exact profession you work in you are all protection professionals. Your philosophy and goals are the same; protect and serve those within the community, the environment you work in and to do so in a professional and safe manner.

Suddenly your quiet morning is interrupted by a radio call from dispatch, an employee or patron excitedly interrupting you telling you there is a disturbance with shouting, pushing and shoving going on within your community. The description of the individuals involved is given to you. You instantly move in the direction of the problem.Your intent is to resolve it.  As you approach but before you can see, the people involved you hear; “you are not going to get away with this I will &*(@ing kill you!… “Please don’t, don’t do it…STOP!” you hear in another loud voice. You start to think based on what you hear, this could be escalating. What is going on? How do I deal with this? Is he armed or not? He is he just talking or is he about to bring this situation to another level?

I must do something, you think to yourself; or should I wait  and monitor while back-up arrives. If I do not take action I will have to hear it latter from the guys as to why I waited; “don’t you have the intestinal fortitude to handle a call” they will say and  I will have to listen to it. But at this point its just words, or is it? I must get a better look to assess the situation more thoroughly, but there is no cover or concealment once I turn the corner.  Then I will be in the open and plain to see.

These are a couple of the questions and thoughts running through your mind as the people involved in the conflict come into your view and now, see you, the authority figure...Now what?   Will it stop or escalate? It depends on you, how you read the signs and signals, communicate and interact or maybe it depends upon them and how they adapt to you and the methods you choose, only time will tell.  Conflict is a clash between two adaptive systems (in this case human beings) and “time competitive.”  You must assess accurately to resolve the situation.

The question is, how do you resolve complex conflict?

  • How do you approach and position yourself to gain the advantage?
    • Do you wait for back-up of some kind or do you proactively move forward and engage?
    • Whatever the decision (engage, disengage or wait) if the situation changes do you adapt your response or continue despite the new incoming information? 
    • Is the essence of your decision based on sound strategy and tactics or is it more dependant on luck, your habits, and what your other peers think?
    • Is the decision based on knowledge and learning from experience or is the decision you make and put into action pointless and reckless?
  • Is your situational awareness keen and fine tuned?
    • Are you observing the signs and signals of danger, the patterns of behavior, the verbal and non-verbal signs and signals.
    • Do you understand body language the subtle signs and signals that lead to assaultive behavior and do you develop these skills? If so;
    • Are you assessing the potential threats and orienting to the potential dangers before you engage or are you just walking up complacently depending upon past conflicts and experiences (habituation) that were resolved without incident?
  • Do you understand people and how they tick and react when emotionally charged?
  • Do you understand conflict and its underlying dynamics?
    • The non-linearity of conflict
    • Results cannot be predicted from the separate actions
    • Strategies depend on the strategies of others
    • Behavior changes the environment
  • If you take the engagement approach, do you know how to communicate effectively based on a basic understanding of human psychology and interact in an effort to build rapport and isolate the problem in an effort to deescalate the situation without further conflict.
    • Constraining the opponents options
    • Understanding the non-linearity of the environment
    • Aim for indirect effects and apply multiple strategies
  • Or is your method of communication based on peer pressure, ego, and personalities, that lead to unpredictable results?
  • Do you understand friction in conflict and what slows the decision making process down? How to reduce friction and gain the advantage in conflict?
  • If despite your efforts to resolve the situation peacefully do you understand reasonable use of force and the methods utilized to gain control of an assaultive or lethal  person?
  • Have you taken the time to learn, unlearn and relearn your tactics? Be it awareness, approach tactics, understanding body language and the signs and signals of danger, positioning, communication, initiative driven control techniques, and use of reasonable force?
    • Are you even thinking about any of this or are you just recklessly responding based on your past encounters and the habits you have formed?


Today’s climate is dangerous to those in law enforcement and security and to those within their communities, whether its conventional crimes and crime problems or new and emerging threats. All pose risks from unknown facts and circumstances and can unfold in any given number of circumstances, including seemingly minor incidents.

This fact requires “Full-Spectrum” police and professional security officers who are both capable and disciplined; who possess situational awareness, mental calmness and a willingness to show compassion and communicate, and build communitywide relationships. Yet they must as well possess, the willingness to use force, including deadly force to protect both the public and themselves when it’s both reasonable and necessary. This is a balance that is difficult at best in the probabilistic, uncertain and often chaotic world we live in.

All these and more are factors to consider when dealing with difficult people in conflict that may escalate to violence. This requires those responding, to have a strategy and developed array of tactics that can be adapted to a given set of circumstances.  Not a canned response, but instead and adaptable response to meet and deal with the changing conditions presented if we are to be successful at preventing and resolving crises.

What is Strategy? “That which persuades an individual or group of individuals to do what we want them to do. Meanwhile, in all likelihood our opponents are trying to enforce a similar program on us. In conflict this may require that we deny our opponents the opportunity to achieve their goals.”

What are tactics?  “The art and science of winning engagements and conflicts. Tactics refers to the concepts and methods we use to accomplish a particular objective.”

 What is Adaptability? “an effective change in response to an altered situation.”

We will answer these questions, learn these skills, how to develop them and more at the; Strategy and Tactics for Handling Dynamic Encounters Workshop.

LESC Programs of Instruction utilizes the method of experiential learning to build student experiences using the “recognition primed” decision making process. The programs of instruction consists of four primary pillars and includes the use of: (1) a case study learning method; (2) tactical decision games; (3) free play force on force exercises; and (4) feedback through the leader evaluation system.

The LESC programs of instruction unify the approaches above in accomplishing LESC learning objectives, which include:

  • Improving one’s ability to make decisions quickly and effectively;
  • Making sense of new situations, seeing patterns, and spotting opportunities and options that were not visible before;
  • Becoming more comfortable in a variety of situations;
  • Developing more advanced and ambitious tactics; and
  • Becoming more familiar with weapons capabilities, employment techniques, and other technical details.

The workshop will take place at American Firearms School in North Attleboro, MA on September 25th 2009. Class starts at 9AM.

The workshop will be presented by Fred Leland current Lieutenant with the Walpole Police Department, and Director and Principal Trainer of Law Enforcement and Security Consulting, Inc

Cost: $120.00 per person. Send four from your agency get an additional seat for FREE

To register contact or call 508-298-2023

Strategy and Tactics for Handling Dynamic Encounters Flyer

Strategy Tactics2.pdf90.53 KB