Last week I attended the five day Centrifuge Training- Instructor VCQB (Vehicle Close Quarters Combat) course. The range/host was a local police department. I had previously hosted Pat Rogers at this range years ago.
I went through the police academy in the 90s and my training that covers fighting around vehicles was minimal and continued to be minimal since. In the class, this deficit was not uncommon and seems to be a sad national trend. Considering the amount of time I spend in a police vehicle and work around it, a lot more attention to these concepts that were taught are needed on a large scale.
I found the Centrifuge course was well structured and the content was based on the commonalities of officer involved shootings (OIS) around vehicles. The course analyzed what we as cops have been taught and how it is reflected in OIS to our detriment. From there the drills reinforced the lessons and learning points. Each day started with a classroom portion that covered video analysis of OIS and then various stats that reinforce the concepts of the day. There was a natural progression of material that built upon the last lesson.
There are nuances with fighting around a vehicle that include advantages and disadvantages along the long and short axis of the vehicle. The officer’s ability to see and remain mobile to maneuver are extremely important factors. Recognizing human performance/behavior and natural reactions help develop better tactics and positioning. All of this starts with understanding points of cover versus concealment along a commercial vehicle. Ballistic demonstrations were provided using a couple different vehicles and different weapons. Pillars were shot with a variety of calibers and types of ammunition. Doors and windows (windshields) were shot to see their affect on bullet trajectories. This understanding was a building block of the course. What was shown is not common knowledge.
The drills acted as a means of familiarization of concepts to start and then later incorporated additional facets until we reached a point near the end of the course where multiple concepts were being used simultaneously subconsciously. Workshop segments functioned at the speed of the end user. The concept of “work at the speed of control” was something brought up frequently any time students were handling firearms. The idea behind that was to not outrun headlights or go so fast your actions are unsafe. Unsafe behavior does result in removal from the program.
Having competent peers in class helped a competitive spirit and acted as outstanding coaches (parts of the course put students in as coaches and had students reteach material to fellow students). Jared and Andy, though students with me, were excellent partners in further discussing class material and concepts as well as shooting partners.
A completely unrelated to the course material takeaway was the value of Uncrustables. The host provided a cooler full of them daily and water. Those sandwiches proved to be an excellent range food. The course did not have structured breaks and definitely no lunch breaks. We might have had a couple 15 min breaks scattered through the week. Reloading mags doesn’t count as a break. This isn’t a complaint- the opposite. There was a lot of content and the course can only go as fast as the students can absorb and apply it.
Based on feedback from prior students, the course and drills have evolved from just a couple years ago. It is constantly being fine tuned and improved.
Overall, I found this course provided information that I should have gotten in the 90s and it should be reinforced regularly. The content is definitely cop-centrict using real world data from sources like UCR, FBI, etc. I definitely recommend this course for any cop that works in or around a police vehicle.