Part Two Examining O.C. Company’s Role in Police Training, Scandals
By Nick Kipley
The Lexipol motto is, “Predictable is Preventable,” and as such, President Gordon Graham offers free “tips of the day” on their website’s home page.
These tips are formatted as one- or two-minute-long videos where Graham himself talks directly to the camera, energetically explaining the topic and wearing his signature thick-framed glasses. The videos are archived on Lexipol’s website and are categorized in terms of Public Safety, Law Enforcement, Fire, and Custody. The format of each video begins with Graham walking into frame and saying, “Hello, Gordon Graham here with Lexipol …” and then explaining an analogous yet common scenario specific to whichever category the video happens to fall under. After this, he then offers a motivational explanation as to how to handle the situation in the Lexipol fashion. It’s impossible to say that his motives aren’t good-hearted.
They all deal with the wellbeing of public safety officials; some of the videos deal with ways such officials can de-stress healthily from their undoubtedly stressful careers; some outline the dangers of tobacco and alcohol abuse; some have to do with how to speak properly to a reporter or lawyer.
Some, however, have the sort of ominous ring to them particular to the scenarios that have been recently flooding the news on a national level. They stress tactics that erode the moral ambiguity of certain life-or-death decisions in favor of always seeking ways to explain such decisions in a light that is as unambiguous as possible by having that lack of ambiguity come from certain standards written by the Lexipol Police Training Manuals that many law enforcement agencies nationwide—Graham claims in a video purporting the benefits of such training manuals—have either adopted piecemeal or have allowed to very heavily influence their policy practices upon.
In a tip of the day called, “Don’t Just Survive—Prevail,” Graham describes a situation in which it’s “oh-dark-thirty” and the officer behind the wheel of the patrol car—“You,” Graham addresses—has just stopped a suspect in another vehicle.
The suspect that “You,” have just stopped, Graham explains, “Is determined not to go back to prison. You don’t know that. But he is not going back.”
The scenario that unfolds happens with uncanny speed and must truly be one of the nightmares of law enforcement officials, everywhere: “No sooner have you put your squad car in park that he’s out the door, gun in hand,” Graham says, diverging slightly to refocus and readjust his point, “Every one of you out there watching me right now would agree that surviving this—or any—type of deadly force encounter is the ultimate goal.”
This makes perfect sense. Graham has, according to the website for his risk consultancy business “Graham Research Consultants,” 33 years of law enforcement experience spanning multiple agencies and positions. In those three decades, he undoubtedly heard stories of, or saw firsthand accounts of, many unfortunate things occur to men and women just trying to keep the public safe from harm.
Unfortunately, though, Graham’s biography also claims that he was, “Raised in San Francisco in the 1950s, [where] he not only learned that love of God, love of Country, and love of family was critical, but he was also taught the immense value of continuous learning, hard work and the importance of always doing the right thing.”
This commitment to “doing the right thing” is where Lexipol occasionally runs off the rails. In one video called, “The Militarization of The Police,” Graham enthusiastically discusses how military cuts in the 1990s led to the deep discounting of the kinds of armored vehicles and military weaponry seen on the news controlling what he calls, “high-risk, low-frequency events,” situations which sound eerily similar to the rioting in Ferguson and Baltimore.
Graham doesn’t say that such weaponry should seldom be used; rather he claims that in order to effectively use such heavy machinery, the departments in question must use “sound” discretion and have equally sound policies in place. Like Lexipol’s.
In other words, if you were suddenly made Police Chief of a department of 37 people, and tomorrow you found yourself forced into a situation in which you needed to utilize that Desert Storm surplus M3A1 Bradley Fighting Vehicle you bought back during the booming Clinton years, because you—as Chief of this very small department—think it’s “the right thing to do,” (or whatever) it’s best to have all your legal bases covered before taking your mini-tank out for a spin, flattening the cars and scaring the people in balaclavas throwing rocks and Molotov cocktails half to death … . But that could just be my interpretation of what he’s saying.
Anyway, in going back to, “Don’t Just Survive—Prevail,” Graham very quickly moves from the nightmare scenario in which a police officer on a routine traffic stop has to use deadly force in a split second in which he or she is caught off guard, to a very long explanation as to the reasoning the officer must adopt so that they are never caught off guard.
This is because the final components to some Lexipol “tips of the day” have certain, strange, “character shaping” elements to them. Videos like, “Be Careful What You Say In Writing,” and “Use of Force: Don’t Say Something Stupid,” seem more like ways to get everyone on the same page in terms of deflecting potential lawsuits then it does providing tips for exceptional policing.
And the attitude that Graham claims an officer in that nightmare-traffic-stop-situation must have before even going on duty?
Here’s a transcript:
“Consider for a moment what surviving the encounter means: YOU are not DEAD,” he explains, with just as much spoken emphasis where I’ve capitalized. “You can still be alive but seriously injured and maybe even permanently disabled. However, put that into context with WINNING such an encounter, not only SURVIVING, BUT WINNING. PREVAILING. WINNING.”
Then, in what could be described as “using someone’s Post-Traumatic Stress Trigger to really drive the point home,” Graham continues talking directly into the camera in conclusion:
“In some cases maybe the encounter was so violent that the mere fact that you survived is a miracle. But to instill the WILL to PREVAIL in any given life-threatening event gives you A MENTAL EDGE that just may be the extra boost you need to see you through success.”
It bears mentioning that “success” here does directly translate to “fatally shooting a human being who is threatening your life by brandishing a weapon,” not, you know, Call of Duty or anything … anyway, he finishes with:
“Of all the tools you have to help you do your job, the one between your ears is the most important. Like any precision tool, it constantly needs to be fine-tuned. Fine-tune your brain not just to SURVIVE but to PREVAIL.”
In next week’s addition to this piece, the Independent will be analyzing the constitutionality of Lexipol’s policies with help from the American Civil Liberties Union and others.