No doubt about it, police officers have a dangerous job. Sure, their training teaches them many ways to stay safe, but time passes and officers develop their own routines. Unfortunately, the “it won’t happen to me” mindset often tags along with a “routine.” As a result, well, sometimes unfortunate things happen when an officer lets down his guard and/or ignores his training.
No two calls are exactly the same. Events unfold differently. No two suspects act in the exact same manner. No two houses or businesses are exactly the same (layouts and furnishings differ). Vehicles and their occupants differ. Even the people officers interact with on a daily basis behave differently from one day to the next (moods change, life events affect disposition, etc.). Cases and scenarios are never exactly like those taught and practiced in the academy. And, well, you get the idea—officers must be able to react appropriately to every single situation, even when they change course every few minutes or even as quickly as a fraction of a second.
So, using what they’ve been taught, combined with a handful of common sense and a boat load of department rules and regulations, officers go about their daily business of keeping people safe while enforcing the laws of their communities and states. Easy money, right?
After all, what could possibly go wrong if officers follow rules and the procedures they learned during training? Well … there is a slight problem. You see, police officers are human. I know, that’s a bit of eye-opening news. But it’s true. Let’s all say it together. POLICE OFFICERS ARE HUMAN. And what is it that humans do on occasion? That’s right. They make mistakes. We all do.
The problem with a police officer making a mistake, even a slight one, is that his error could result in the loss of a life, including their own. Think about that for a minute. We make a mistake like … oh, let’s say we slipped up and left a grocery bag on top of the car and then drove off spilling prune juice, Preparation H, and a couple of boxes of Depends along the way home. What’s the worst that could happen other than our neighbors learning about our pesky bowel troubles?
Police officers, however, make one little mistake, such as forgetting to load their gun after cleaning it, and the next thing they know they’re in a one-sided shootout.
So let’s explore a few things cops should NOT do. Here’s a list of ten.
1. When accepting a prisoner/suspect from another officer, NEVER assume the other officer conducted a thorough search. Always, Always, Always search every suspect before placing them inside your patrol vehicle, even if it was your captain or your training officer who delivered the prisoner to you.
2. Never assume a suspect is compliant, even if they seem meek and mild at the time of arrest. You never know what will set them off. Handcuff every suspect/arrestee before placing them in your car.
3. Never give up during a fight. Remember, you WILL survive and you WILL win. No exceptions, even when the bad guy is bigger, meaner, and stronger … and green.
4. Never lose your temper. Remaining calm allows an officer to think through the situation. Knee-jerk reactions often occur during moments of anger, and knee-jerk reactions are not always the appropriate response to the immediate situation. Be cool and your training will tell you what to do next.
5. Never allow anyone to invade your personal space. Keep them (especially criminal suspects) at least an arm length or more away from you. Any closer and you’ll not be able to react properly should an attack occur.
6. Never hold your flashlight in your “gun hand.” Doing so would prevent you from drawing your weapon should you need it in a hurry.
7. When knocking on a door, never stand directly in front of it. Doors do not stop bullets (the same is so for drywall, plywood, etc.).
8. Do not allow emergency situations to cloud your judgement and thoughts. This includes when at the local jail or other places where you’ve secured your weapon inside a lockbox while processing a suspect. There’s nothing worse than arriving at the scene of an intense shootout where you suddenly realize that you’ve left your gun at the county jail.
9. When transporting and/or processing prisoners/suspects do not sit or stand with your weapon next to the bad guy.
10. Never, under any circumstance, give up/surrender your weapon. That’s NEVER, as in NEVER.
*By the way, the detective in the top photo is fingerprinting a suspect he’d arrested for possessing and selling large quantities of cocaine. Do you see anything he’s doing that’s wrong and/or unsafe?