4 Critical Skills: There’s No App for Them

It is safe to say that today’s generation is more technically advanced than any that came before, not only because of the technology available to them but because of their willingness to embrace it. However, while this technology allows any teenager with a smartphone to determine the current traffic in Dallas or the population of Singapore, it does not do everything. Many of those under 30, the very young people most likely to be in your department’s hiring pool, not only find themselves dependent on their electronic devices but have difficulty functioning without them. This includes performing simple tasks necessary for everyday police work.

iPhonePhysical Fitness – although your smart phone or tablet may contain an unlimited number of apps which allow you to count calories, track distances walked and even how to train for a marathon, none can actually get you up off the sofa. It is no secret that today’s youth are in worse physical condition than any modern generation before them. Just as the military has found it difficult to locate qualified AND fit recruits, police agencies will soon find the hardest part of the academy is likely to be the morning PT.

Social Skills – when many of us were growing up, we spent our days playing ball, riding our bike or simply hanging out… but we did it with our friends. Even early video games required sitting in the same room with someone or going to the local arcade where there we other people. Not today. Today’s youth can literally spend days or even weeks without experiencing any one-on-one contact with another human being. Text and emails are the preferred methods of communication, games are played over the internet, and even homeschooling is more popular than ever before. Bottom line, when a potential cadet is asked to interact with a victim, witness or suspect, they may find that they first need to understand how to interact with people in general.

Communication – today’s youth are always communicating. Texts, emails, and social media allow instant and continued communication, something earlier generations could only dream of. Abbreviated texts, character limits and a general lack of detail means that these same youth often find it difficult to type in a standard format or provide lengthy, detailed accounts of events – such as you would expect to find in a report or affidavit. This lack of basic communication skills may mean that completing anything without drop boxes may be a foreign concept to a new recruit, akin to teaching someone in their mid-40s how to text or tweet.

Navigation – when I was completing Field Training one of the first things my FTO did was hand me a map, the car keys and tell me to get to a specific location. Throughout my training period this same FTO would randomly ask me “Where are we?” so that just in case something happened, I would be able to identify our location. Now, directions are provided by a smart phone mapping app. Even traffic conditions are available at the push of a button. But what if their phone is not available? Could the average 20-something find their way across town? Or pinpoint their location without looking at an electronic icon in their palm?

Do not get me wrong, technology is often a blessing which allows law enforcement to perform valuable tasks in a fraction of the time as 10 years ago. But sometimes you need to get back to the basics and when that happens, you will find there is no app for that.

Disclaimer: The content in this article is the opinion of the writer and does not necessarily reflect the policies or opinions of US Patriot Tactical.

Tom Burrell

Tom enlisted in the US Marine Corps Reserves in 1987. Following service in Desert Storm, he transitioned to active duty with the US Coast Guard. In 1997 he left the USCG to pursue a position in conservation & maritime law enforcement. Tom is currently a Captain and he oversees several programs, including his agency investigation unit. He is also a training instructor in several areas including firearms, defensive tactics and first aid/CPR. In 2006 Tom received his Associate’s Degree in Criminal Justice from Harrisburg Area Community College and in 2010 a Bachelor’s Degree from Penn State University.
Tom Burrell
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