With the shooting deaths of police officers in Missouri, Michigan, Texas (2), and Oregon just in the past week, the National Law Enforcement Memorial Fund Preliminary 2011 Fatality Statistics show a 30% increase in officer deaths over last year, but an unbelievable 88% rise in officer death by gunfire.
At Read-Off yesterday, I was staring at my squad. The senior officer was a K9 handler with about ten years on the job. The remainder of the officers had fewer than four years of sworn experience, most with a lot less.
I regularly cover officer deaths at my Read-Offs as safety reminders. I feel it is right to honor the service of fallen law enforcement officers and to highlight the situations that can lead to a critical incident.
In his previous article, The Ten Deadly Errors, Richard reviewed ten officer safety lapses that can get you killed on the street.
In looking back at the ten deadly errors and thinking about them, I came to the conclusion that I could short-form most of them for the New Generation into two important words: Vigilance and Decisiveness.
Vigilance, or situational awareness, is that observational edge that will help you identify danger signs and predict confrontation. This vigilance is to be employed at all times on the job, in all encounters, regardless of the type of call or patrolling. You are the pointy end of the spear. Be sharp. Trust no one, observe everything.
Decisiveness is immediately taking the appropriate action (hands-on, less lethal, or deadly force) when your vigilance has triggered an awareness of danger. Action may beat reaction, but decisive action combines the effectiveness of proper timing with resoluteness. In other words, employing deadly force may be the right answer, but the wrong solution when used a second too late.
With a rise in the ambush-type shootings of law enforcement officers, it is crucial that we constantly look for the danger signs and act upon them instantly and without hesitation.
Randall is a twenty-three year sworn police officer in a mid-sized Florida police department. He has been an FTO, K9 Handler, Detective and SWAT Team Leader. He is currently the Midnight Shift K9 Sergeant and department SWAT Coordinator.
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