As we head into the weekend, here are a few officer survival questions to consider. Think of this as a pop-quiz with a deadly serious pass-fail grade.
Back Up Gun
Are you carrying a back up gun (BUG)? If not, why not? I don’t care if your Glock or SIG SAUER pistol has never failed. You carry it long enough, it will break. When it goes down, you better have a plan B.
If you are carrying a BUG, where are you carrying it? Can you get to it if you need it? Can you get to it if you’ve been knocked down, or if you are wrestling with someone?
When is the last time you practiced with your BUG? Can you shoot it -accurately- with one hand? Your off-hand?
Are you calling in your stops before you turn on your lights, or are you waiting until your lights are on and the subject is reacting? Do you even call in all of your stops?
Are you paying attention to the movements of the occupants? Can you see if they are putting something under the seat…or pulling something out? Are the front occupants switching seats?
Are you using a passenger-side approach to your advantage? Are you aware of the traffic patterns around your stop location? Are you in danger from passing motorists?
Are you backing up your partners even if they haven’t requested another unit?
When dispatched, are you checking the history of the location? Sure, dispatch is supposed to tell you if we’ve been there before, but are you double-checking their work with your in-car computer?
Are you waiting for your cover officer before making contact? Where are you parking your cruiser? Are you so close that someone inside the target residence could see your car? Can they see the car through a 3-9x variable scope?
How are you making your approach? Do you walk up the sidewalk, or use the neighbor’s yard and landscaping to conceal your approach? Are you looking around in case the suspect left the residence and is waiting to ambush you?
After making contact with the involved parties, is anyone else inside? Have you used a protective sweep to make sure you know who is there? Do you need to call for an additional cover unit due to the number of people involved?
When responding to a bar fight, are you bringing enough help? Do you wait until they are there to make contact? Do you stage at one location, and then go in together? Do you keep retreat as an option if things start to go south on you?
At loud party complaints, do you take a partner with you, or try to handle it yourself? Do you know anything about the party prior to contact? Is the party sponsored by a local church group or a motorcycle gang? Do you and your partners consciously stay together, or do you get separated in the crowds?
There is not any one strategy that works every time for every person in every circumstance. Stay flexible with any call you go on. The questions above are suggestive in nature, but hopefully prompt you to evaluate whatever techniques you use. Through tough self-questioning you may be able to find weaknesses in your approaches to dangerous calls, and improve your ability to prevail.