By BTS Staff
One of the most important concepts Coach Blauer developed for the S.P.E.A.R. System is the three D’s (Detect, Defuse, and Defend). Like many concepts in the system, on the surface, it is simple to grasp. However as our coaching experience grows, we find deeper meaning and ways to make the message more powerful for our students.
Many years ago, while studying this concept, I had an experience which gave me a stronger personal grasp of the three D’s. I now share this experience with every class I teach in hopes to pass on the power of my discovery.
When I first learned the concept I immediately had a grasp for the basic message; in order to successfully deal with danger, we must first Detect it then try to Defuse it, and finally, Defend ourselves from it. The deepening of my understanding came when, since English is my second language, I hit the dictionaries to find the meaning of the words.
Let’s start with Detect. How do we find the danger?
Coach Blauer always says that as police officers and soldiers we are always looking for dangerous people in dangerous places hence we are always in danger. So it seems that it would be simple to detect it. It is, but we can do better.
When I ask students in class the meaning of the word detect, most people respond with words like find or discover. These are somewhat passive words that imply we somehow stumble onto the danger or that somehow it finds us. Although sometimes this is the case, I believe that we can improve our odds. The word detect is defined in the dictionary as follows: To bring into awareness.
This is a more active definition and its implication is that we are purposefully looking for danger. When finding danger becomes a willful act we are more likely to see it sooner and be more tactical in out responses; our ability to defuse and defend is improved.
This is a normal function of the brain. Just like when we decide that we like a certain car model we suddenly see it in almost every street; when we decide to look for danger on purpose we almost always see it first.
Next we must Defuse.
Again here most students define this as preventing the danger. Although there are situations we can avoid or prevent, the real power of this word comes from its true meaning which is: to make something less dangerous. Remember we already detected the danger so it’s already there, and as police officers and soldier we can’t avoid it, so we must make the situation less dangerous. It’s like defusing a bomb, the explosives are still there but the likelihood of an explosion is smaller because the trigger is no longer part of the mechanism. Through intelligent tactics and choice speech we can make something less dangerous but we must not drop our guard because the danger is still present.
Finally we must Defend ourselves from the danger.
Finding the meaning of this word was very challenging. When I first looked it up I found it said: to protect. Ok so then I looked protect and it said: to defend. I also found in class that this is the way most people define the word. I then started consulting other dictionaries and went back and forth finding the same definitions. After a few more aggravated tries I found one that defined defend as: to take action to protect. Well, at least that was something. We are taking action. Defense was no longer the same passive, subservient word when compared to offense.
But protect was still a mystery until finally I found that the origin of the word protect is the Latin word protegere which means to cover from the front. This was perhaps one of the most powerful discoveries I had made. In essence Defend means: to take action to cover from the front. This implies that once we decide we must do something about danger we need to move towards it. This parallels our moral and tactical imperative as we protect our citizens and our country, not to mention ourselves, from those who seek to do us harm.
Coach Blauer is known for saying that the clarity with which we define something will determine the experience. Bringing clarity to the Three D’s helped me on the street and in the field and it also enhanced the survivability of my team mates and students. I hope it does the same for you.