#246: Police Training & Police Misconduct | Making Sense With Sam Harris

Key Takeaways

  • “The default bias by the public is that use of force is illegitimate.” -Sam Harris
  • Public visibility of police performance and accountability has never been so high but police training hasn’t changed since the 1970s
  • Police officers in America are the most undertrained profession in the country: police – 664 hours; cosmetologist – 1600 hours; barber- 1500 hours
  • The majority of officers are good people who want to do the right thing – but when they’re underequipped and tested, who do we blame?
  • “To tell the difference between good cops and bad cops, give all cops sufficient training for challenges they face. Then you see which cops adhere to that raining and which deliberately deviate.” – Rener Gracie
  • “We’re expecting more [from police] than we’re giving them the skills to do.” – Rener Gracie
  • Prescribed solution: one hour of tailored jiu-jitsu per week for officers, first 100 seconds of restraint should be body-to-body contact to slow down the tempo and de-escalate
  • Promising results in Marietta, GA: cops enrolled in vetted civilian jiu-jitsu classes 2x/week. This resulted in higher confidence among officers; reduced taser use; reduced serious injury to officers and suspects; saved money on worker’s compensation and lawsuits
  • Proper training will provide a path forward for civilians and cities to rebuild trust

Introduction

Rener Gracie (@RenerGracie) is the eldest grandson of Grandmaster Helio Gracie, the creator of Gracie Jiu-Jitsu. He is an American Brazilian jiu-jitsu practitioner, a chief instructor at the Gracie University (formerly Gracie Jiu-Jitsu Academy), and the co-creator of the Gracie University online curriculum.

On this episode of Making Sense, Sam Harris speaks with Rener Gracie about police procedure and about the special relevance of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu for safely controlling resisting suspects.

Host: Sam Harris (@SamHarrisOrg)

Jiu-Jitsu

  • Helio Gracie was the creator of Brazilian jiu-jitsu, adapted from Japanese jiu-jitsu
  • Gracie challenge matches started in Brazil and extended to Hermosa Beach, CA when Grandmaster Gracie moved
  • Jiu-jitsu violates the distance of traditional martial arts which are about speed, extension, strength
  • Jiu-jitsu is about grappling on the ground where the opponent has less strength and capacity
  • The core of jiu-jitsu: the art of giving smaller, less powerful people the ability to defend and overcome by distance management and energy efficiency
  • Jiu-jitsu levels the playing field among people of different sizes and neutralizes violence – without using violence

Police Undertraining

  • “There’s never been a greater gap between the level of force police are using and the level of force the public believes police should be using.” – Rener Gracie
  • Police are generally poorly trained and in over their heads when violence ensues and escalates
  • The assumption is that cops are well-trained on firearms and arrest – it’s just not true
  • Just 664 hours is (California) state-mandated requirement of training – for comparison, it’s 1600 hours to become a cosmetologist and 1500 hours to become a barber
    • There is no federal requirement, each state controls the hours of training
  • We’re taking a poorly trained, average person who has probably never been in a fight and putting them in threatening situations – what do we expect to happen?
  • “Police officers in America are the most undertrained professionals in the country.” – Rener Gracier
  • The average police officer in California receives four hours of arrest and control training every two years
    • Only one of those hours is physical control tactics
  • Reasons for excessive use of force: (1) officer is deliberately going above and beyond intentionally; (2) the officer is so undertrained that survival response takes over because responses are all fear-based by this point
  • The presence of a police firearm changes everything – the response is elevated automatically where someone disarms the officer, or the officer fires
  • There is a real threat when a suspect’s hands disappear – they could be holding a gun within a second
  • “99% of people are unable to rationally interpret what they see when they see these videos of arrest going haywire” – Sam Harris
  • The majority of officers are good people who want to do the right thing – but when they’re underequipped and tested, who do we blame?

Gracie Survival Tactics (GST): Using Jiu-Jitsu For Policing

  • Public visibility of police performance and accountability has never been so high
  • The more trained an officer is, the less likely they are to have their weapon taken or be knocked out by the suspect
  • Some officers’ lives are in danger – but the danger is due to the significant lack of training officers receive
  • “We’re expecting more than we’re giving them the skills to do.” – Rener Gracie
  • Recommendation: one-hour jiu-jitsu training per week adapted for police and weapon conflict
  • Tactic: body-to-body control or 100 seconds to slow everything down
  • “To tell the difference between good cops and bad cops, give all cops sufficient training for challenges they face. Then you see which cops adhere to that raining and which deliberately deviate.” – Rener Gracie

Damaging New Bill In New York

  • New York passed a bill that criminalized choke-hold, neck restraints, torso restraint – etc. – even if nothing happened to the suspect
  • The people who wrote this bill incorrectly believe that cops are sufficiently trained in arrest and control
  • Rear naked choke is practiced by hundreds of thousands of jiu-jitsu schools every year by people who have been on both sides – the risk of death is absolutely minimal
  • A violent criminal cannot be held down without using your hands – you’re forcing the cop to escalate their strategy
  • Civilians think this is good for them but it’s disastrous
  • This bill is going to incentivize the use of baton or weapon because you can’t restrain anyone by using force on the torso
  • All techniques outlawed are monumentally safer than what has been outlawed – there is basically no way to restrain someone without hurting them now

The Marietta, Georgia Jiu-Jitsu Experiment

  • Marietta, GA enrolled rookie cops in jiu-jitsu 2x/week for five months at a civilian gym
  • Officers came out of academy and reported feeling greater confidence than veteran officers
  • There’s a video showing the use of skills by officers making arrests without punching in the head, cursing, violence
  • The program was so successful, Murrieta agency opened it up and sponsored training for all officers
  • Over 18-months since the program was instituted:
    • Taser deployment reduced by 23% in the jiu-jitsu population
    • Use of force injuries to officers decreased by 48% – 0 were in jiu-jitsu trained officers
    • Agency saved $66,000+ in worker’s compensation claims since officers weren’t hurt on the job
    • Serious injury to suspects was down 53% for officers who were trained in jiu-jitsu
  • The program was paid for by asset forfeiture funds and exploring grants in the Georgia senate
Waking Up with Sam Harris : ,
Notes By Maryann

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