Boyd for policing

Several years ago, I posted Major PJ Trembley’s Master’s Thesis on the Articles page.  I had forgotten that at the time, Lt. Fred Leland of the Walpole, MA, Police Department, and owner of Law Enforcement & Security Consulting, Inc., had written an introduction calling attention to Maj Trembley’s paper for law enforcement professionals.

Boyd felt that his philosophy reflected deeper principles that manifest themselves in all forms of conflict, not just war — hence “Patterns of Conflict.”  As the author of a book on how these principles operate in business, I obviously agree.  Perhaps by examining their applications to law enforcement, which should not be thought of as conflict, per se, but which can have elements of it, we can develop a more profound understanding of these fundamental concepts.

Fred has kindly granted me permission to repost his introduction; I apologize for the slight delay.


Major PJ Tremblay just gave permission to share his brilliant paper called “Shaping and Adapting – Unlocking the Power of Colonel John Boyd’s OODA Loop.pdf” with police and those who visit our website. This paper explains the actual complex nature of the Boyd Cycle verses its often oversimplified and misunderstood OODA Loop.

The paper is thoroughly researched and discusses numerous factors crucial in making sound decisions. Feedback loops are discussed as well as the difference between direct outside observations and indirect causal loops as the difference between “top down” processing and “bottom up” processing of perception. While “top down” processing refers to a person’s expectations of what is likely to occur based on previous experiences and inherent mobilization of selective mechanisms that influence focus and attention, the “bottom up” processing are the actual observations sensed.

The Major goes on to explain what I believe is an important concept for police to understand called incestuous amplification. Incestuous amplification occurs when one’s preconceptions misshape the observations that one is sensing. These misshapen observations then blur the true connection between the individual and the environment because the brain begins to synthesize cues and preconceived responses. This has huge implications on how we train and prepare officers for dynamic encounters. You must read this piece.


Fred writes on this and a myriad of other topics on his blog, http://lesc.net/blog/

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