Research With Relevance
This edition of the Tactical Corner introduces our research department. Over the past few years our research department has continually grown. We started out with a single full-time employee; however, ALERRT now has a Director of Research, a full-time Research Specialist, and a doctoral student on staff. As many of you know, ALERRT’s mission is to provide the best research-based active shooter training in the nation. Part of what sets ALERRT apart from other training programs is our focus on research. We strive to train tactics that have been empirically found to be the most effective. This process ensures ALERRT stays at the forefront of tactical training. We will continue to stay at the forefront by constantly assessing our training methods and materials.
Our research department primarily conducts two types of research – descriptive data on active shooter events and experimental tests of policing tactics and practices. First, we continually collect data on active attacks as they occur in our nation. The goal of this process is to provide the public, first responders, and policy-makers with accurate data on active attacks. These data may be used to help make decisions regarding training, equipment, or response protocols.
Previous issues of the Tactical Corner have described a shift in our training philosophy. In addition to this, we are in the midst of shifting our data from including only active shooter events to a more inclusive dataset of all active attacks, such as vehicle attacks, attacks with a bladed weapon, etc. We believe these active attacks warrant the same type of response from first responders as an active shooter. We also believe valuable information can be learned from studying these events. For instance, we learn about civilian response techniques, timelines of the events, response effectiveness, medical interventions that were effective, and much more. The current data can be found on ALERRT’s active shooter data website (ActiveShooterData.org). All of the graphics and information on this website are for public use. Once we formally make the shift to active attacks we will forward the new link and information through our newsletter.
Beyond active shooter/attack data we also test various aspects of our training to ensure we are teaching the best tactics. A key example of this would be a previous study on room entry techniques. If you have been through an ALERRT course you have likely learned about different room entry techniques. A few years ago we designed and ran a series of experiments to determine what method of room entry was not only the safest for an officer but also provided them with the best chance to win a contentious encounter by being faster and more accurate with their shot placement. These studies were published in a small book, are referenced on our website, and are infused in our course catalogue.
Additionally, we test new tactics and ideas to assess if they are better than what we have been training or if we should include a new tactic in our training. For example, we recently published results from a series of studies testing the effectiveness of using distraction techniques in a room entry. We know deploying a flash-bang in every room during a building sweep isn’t logical. So, we tested throwing everyday items in the room instead. We lobbed the item in the room just prior to making entry in hopes of giving the officer an advantage over the suspect in the room’s hard corner. Utilizing vision-tracking technology we were able to determine that this process successfully pulled the hostile suspect’s gaze from the door during the room entry. This gave the entering officer a small window where the suspect was distracted to make the room entry. We will detail both of these studies in future editions of the Tactical Corner. You may also read both of these studies in their entirety. Email our Director of Research, Dr. Hunter Martaindale (Martaindale@ALERRT.org), for links and information about these studies.
In addition to the two published studies mentioned, we have several projects in the works that will be included in future editions of the Tactical Corner. These include:
- 21-Foot Rule: ALERRT has been testing the long-taught “21-Foot Rule” over the past several months. We have systematically broken down an encounter where an officer is charged by an individual with an edged weapon. We are in the final phases of this research and will have a report out for publication and in the Tactical Corner soon.
- Blue-on-Blue: With a couple of recent officer-on-officer shootings, we’ve started looking at way to reduce the misidentification of a plainclothes officer in a dynamic situation.
- Vision-Training: ALERRT is also examining ways to improve the speed and accuracy of identifying the presence of a weapon during a dynamic situation. Our goal is to speed up the process of positively identifying the presence of a weapon to improve officer safety and decision-making.
- Low-Light: ALERRT has long taught a course on operating in low-light conditions. Our research team has begun testing various aspects of these tactics to further validate and potentially improve what we know about operating in low-light conditions.
In addition to the reports generated, our research department has a session at the annual ALERRT conference. During this session we discuss several of the studies we conducted over the course of the year. We want attendees to fully understand what we are studying, why we are studying these topics, and how we develop the experiments. Attendees will see a lot of video and pictures of the research process as well as learn the results without being bogged down by a bunch of research language. Our goal is to disseminate findings that help keep first responders safe in their day-to-day job.
Lastly, we always welcome ideas for research projects. Please send us an email if you have any ideas or tactics that may warrant further research.
As always, thanks for what you do. Stay safe.