September 11, 2001 Reflect and Remember.

September 7, 2011 By Dennis O'Connor

Dennis O'Connor
Dennis O'Connor is the Director of Training for the Government Training Institute, with over twenty five years of Law Enforcement service.

As we approach the tenth anniversary of 911, we as a nation should reflect on the bravery of our first responders and civilians that lost their lives on that tragic day. The days that followed showed a unity among Americans, regardless of background and differences that could be felt around the world.

Our country was soon propelled into the war to defend our democracy and freedoms that our constitution entitles us to have. The war on Terrorism soon became a national goal among our military and our law enforcement.

Having had worked as a law enforcement officer in a jurisdiction in close proximity to New York, Washington D.C. and Pennsylvania, I felt the winds of change that were about to occur in our daily lives. My department was inundated with money, equipment and training as were other jurisdictions.

As the years pressed on, I retired and took on the role of a tactical instructor, tasked with teaching tactical officers advanced combat skills in the event another terrorist incident were to take place. While with the Government Training Institute, I have been instructed by and trained with individuals from the military's Elite Special Operations Community. It was clear to me that these individuals with their vast talents did not train to cover liabilities or to put a check mark next to the completed box, but to survive in a worst case scenario and to complete a specified mission. This was accomplished not by theory but by real world events, real missions and tragedy in the form of lost lives during tactical missions. After they mourned their losses, to ensure not to repeat what had occurred, they dissected the incident and developed better tactics.

Unfortunately, in the law enforcement tactical community we train to assess liability and to put a check mark in the box. When an officer dies, we mourn their loss but rarely revisit the incident to see what went wrong and how to better prepare ourselves for the future. Typically after actions of this type of critical incident are rarely spoken about and bits and pieces eventually make it out into the law enforcement community.

Having served in the capacity of a tactical law enforcement officer and as a trainer, I am fully aware of shrinking budgets and limited training time. All of law enforcement, tactical and otherwise need to realize the worst case scenario is just around the corner. Our tactical officers need to be equivalent to the members of our military special operation in their disciplines and abilities. Whether it's a mission overseas in theater executed by service members or a mission within the United States executed by a tactical team, the precision to execute this mission should be accomplished by a highly trained and disciplined group of individuals.

There should be no excuses, no complaints about budgets or training time because we need to understand that the liability lies within the lack or complacency in our training. The stake holders, our citizens, deserve to know that our law enforcement officers are more than prepared for the worst case scenario.

As stated before, September 11th is fast approaching and our memories should be of the lives that were taken that day and the void left in so many families. Let us learn that these types of individuals, these terrorists will never stop and we, as a unified nation, need to realize that our first line of defense are our first responders as they were that tragic day ten years ago.