I want to share the story of my two police training experiences: the one in London and the one in Canada

Let’s chat about the one in London first.

I spent 8 years in the London Metropolitan Police as Constable 172563 Eastwood. I first cast my shadow at the entrance of Hendon Police Training Centre in north-west London as a brand new member of the Metropolitan Police Force in November of 1978. If you know the reason that I actually joined the police in the first place, then you will know that I was running away from my high school bully called David.

When I got to the training centre, I wanted to know all about how to deal with bullies and assumed that it would involve all sorts of hands-on tactics like handcuffing and take down moves which would make me look like I was Bruce Lee’s little known Anglo Saxon cousin. But when I got there, I couldn’t have been more wrong.

What the training staff spent a ton of time doing was teaching us how to listen to people, how to treat people and how to talk to people. There was hardly anything about handcuffing at all actually. I remember feeling disappointed about that fact right up until the day of my graduation from Hendon.

Here is the only photograph that was taken on my graduation day…..See if you can spot me!

However, I soon realized that when I actually got to be a police officer and posted to the amazingly beautiful and eclectic streets of Notting Hill in London’s ‘B District’, those communication skills were all I ever seemed to use.

I remember handcuffing people when I arrested them so that training did come in handy from time to time. But what I used every day and all day, were those skills of listening and talking to people.

However, fast forward to Canada and I found myself in another version of the police training experience. This time, the main focus was on compliance and regulatory training related to use of force and firearms tactics.

This was all new to me but it is a mandatory part of police training and has been for a generation or more. I am not saying that it is not needed because it is. I truly think that the average member of the general public wants to have some degree of confidence that the person that they see in uniform actually has some ability to shoot their gun accurately if called upon to do so! But in 26 years as a police officer in Canada I have fortunately never had to fire my handgun (apart from the annual qualification tests).

That is the good news.

The bad news is that there was almost a complete absence of training on verbal communication skills delivered at the police academy. True, there were a few hours devoted to ‘tactical communication’ but previous little compared to the actual amount of time that police officers spend communicating with people in their day to day job.

A police officers’ day is spent influencing and persuading…… not shooting……..

Is your workplace like that too? Is there a huge space between what is needed and what you get?

Do you spend a good deal of your day doing something that you never had any training in when you first started out? Or have they forgotten to do refresher training for you or perhaps your job has completely changed since you started but new training hasn’t occurred? And then your boss wonders why things don’t go so well sometimes….

What about the importance of treating each other respectfully? Have we forgotten all about that?

I was reminded by a friend of mine the other day that people like to hear and remember stories.

That is exactly why my training is always wrapped in stories…since I truly believe that audiences hear messages much more effectively if they are shared in a way that resonates with them. And that is best done through the use of stories.

So, these next few blogs will be filled with messages wrapped up in stories….stories from the world of Phil Eastwood. Enjoy.