By Michael Weissberg

The training star is a good device to illustrate the concept of synergy in a law enforcement training program: training, education, practice, hardware, skill, and policy. each of the six are important in a good training program.

When I first conceived of this, I used a sheriff’s star, which I admit may be a bit corny, but it seemed the way to go. I arranged the six items around a five pointed star, and made training the center of the star, instead of using a six-pointed star (Fig. 1).

Police Officers should never stop training. If a department is found to be deficient in its training of officers, liability may transfer to the individual officer, for not requesting training, to the supervisor (vicarious liability), for not recommending training, and to the department, for not offering training. The legal case which is most often quoted in failure to train issues is City of Canton, Ohio v. Harris, 489 U.S. 378 (1989).

We train often for survival. Many officers boasting in bars have said “I’d rather be tried by twelve than carried by six” in a fit of bravado, to justify a use of force that is otherwise not justifiable. An officer can only be considered to be successful if they live, and their life is worth living after the encounter. I invented Weissberg’s First Law: Successful Survival in order to define that situation:

1. If you do not survive the encounter you have been unsuccessful.

2. If you survive the encounter, but are maimed, disfigured, or crippled, you have been unsuccessful.

3. If you survive the encounter, but have left yourself open to civil lawsuits, and are rendered penniless, you have been unsuccessful.

4. If you survive the encounter, but are fired or sent to prison, you have been unsuccessful.

5. If you survive the encounter, but are responsible for the death of another officer, or an innocent bystander, you have been unsuccessful.

6. If you survive the encounter, but are ridden with guilt, emotionally crippled, or are rendered unstable, because deadly force was not appropriate, you have been unsuccessful.

Remember: If you survive the encounter, and come out mentally, physically, emotionally, financially, and legally unscathed, only then have you have been successful! Using the “Training Star” to prepare yourself, so that you can be successful in your career, enables you to use action, rather than reaction, to prepare in a way that ensures your actions will be justifiable.

About the Author 

Professor Weissberg began his career as an educator in 1988. A graduate of the University of Miami, Weissberg holds Master’s degrees in Education, Criminal Justice, and Psychology, from Nova Southeastern University, Florida International University, and Northcentral University. 

Weissberg has taught on the undergraduate level at Miami Dade College, St. Thomas University, and Florida International University, and graduate school at Nova Southeastern University. Professor Weissberg is a professor and chair of the forensic science department at Keiser University, and has written 21 books and many articles. Weissberg has served as a Police Officer, Crime Scene Investigator, Police Academy Instructor, Police Detective, Police Sergeant, Shift Commander, and Acting Lieutenant; he retired from full time law enforcement in 2013. 

Fig. 1 “The Training Star” graphic reproduced by permission from: 

Weissberg, M. (2011): What every cop must know: tactical preparation for 

the worst day of your life. Miami: White Mountain Publishing Co.