Archive for the ‘Police Procedure’ Category
Predatory animals watch and stalk their prey before moving in for the kill. They’re extremely patient, waiting for the right target—the weakest animal in the pack—because the battle is easier.
Criminals often exhibit similar behavior when interacting with law enforcement. The cop who looks and acts weak—the meekest of the herd—often finds himself the target of all sorts of grief, from verbal abuse all the way to physical assault.
So what do cops do as a front line defense against all that unnecessary heartache? Well, for starters, they’re taught to have and demonstrate what’s known as Command Presence.
An officer who looks sharp, acts sharp, and is sharp, has an advantage over the officer who dresses sloppily and isn’t all that confident about their work. The latter are the officers who most often find themselves having the most difficulties on the street.
Command presence is all about being at the top of the game. Taking a few minutes to be sure your shoes, badge, and brass are polished goes a long way toward projecting a positive image. So does wearing a clean and neatly pressed uniform. And let’s don’t forget regular trips to the folks who cut hair for a living. The combination of these things help to make an officer look confident. Think about it…who would you trust more, the officer with the dirty, wrinkled clothing and shaggy hair, or the officer who looks fresh and sharp, and projects a solid air of authority?
Crooks size up officers the same way you do. They just have other things in mind when they do. They watch, looking for the weak ones, and those are the officers who’ll most likely be dealing with escape attempts, lies, and other criminal tricks.
Tips for developing a better command presence.
- Be professional at all times. And that includes updated training. A cop who knows his job inside out projects more confidence. The same is true with physical training. Stay in shape and know, trust, and practice your defensive tactics.
- Good posture is important. The officer who stands straight and tall has an advantage over the officer who slouches. Poor posture often comes across as a weakness, especially when confronting an aggressive suspect.
- Always make and maintain eye contact when speaking to someone.
- Honesty and consistency are important traits. Bad guys will quickly learn that what you say is what you mean, each and every time.
- Always treat everyone fairly and with dignity.
- First impressions only come around once, so make it your best effort. If a suspect’s first impression of you is that you’re meek and weak, well, you can expect to have a rough day.
- Size up everyone. Always be aware of who and what you’re dealing with, and stay one step ahead of the person in front of you. Remember, that person may want to kill you, so be prepared to do what it takes to survive. Do this each and every time you come into contact with someone. No exceptions! You never know which person is the one who plans to do you harm.
Most importantly, believe in yourself. Have confidence in what you do and who you are. All the shoe-shining and training in the world will not help you if you’re playing make believe. The bad guys will see through that in a heartbeat.
Remember, command presence is only the first step in the “stay safe” equation. Others include:
1. Be aware of your surroundings. What can the bad guy use as a weapon? Does he have a friend lurking in the shadows? Do YOU have an escape route, if needed?.
2. Officers must be prepared, without hesitation, to do what it takes to control a situation. Many times, all that’s needed to gain and maintain control is verbal instruction, and it would be wonderful if a handful of nouns and verbs were the ultimate “fix-all” tools. However, we don’t live in an always-happy world filled only with glitter, delicious chocolate, and smile factories. So, unfortunately, use of force will come into play during an officer’s career…many times.
3. Never, ever, be in the position where you’re forced to react after-the-fact to a situation you weren’t prepared to handle. If the situation is one where you absolutely must place your hands on a suspect, then be prepared to see the arrest through until the suspect is in restraints and tucked safely away in the rear compartment of your patrol car.
4. When encountering a violent suspect, think ahead and be prepared to increase the level of force used to effectively make the arrest. The idea is not to injure anyone. Instead, the goal is to engage, arrest, and restrain without unnecessary harm to anyone. If the suspect chooses to fight until there only one person left standing, then be certain that person is you.
5. Effective command presence leaves no doubt as to who’s in charge of the situation, even without speaking a single word.
So wear the badge proudly, stand tall, and do what it takes to come home at night.
Suicide is generally not a popular topic among law enforcement professionals. In fact, to take one’s own life is often thought of as an act that’s beneath the dignity of the badge. Likewise, conditions that are frequently precursors to an officer’s suicide—depression, PTSD, etc.—are also often considered demeaning, and as a sign of weakness.
In the past, it was rare for a police department to recognize that officer suicide could actually be work-related. Instead, blame for the troubles were most often placed squarely on the officer, with the department citing possible marriage troubles, other family issues, financial difficulties, etc., as the reason(s) for the suicide.
Fortunately, some law enforcement administrators have begun to acknowledge the very real correlation between PTSD and suicide, and they have suicide prevention programs in place. Still, it is important that officers recognize the warning signs and seek help. It is also equally as important that fellow officers and supervisors act proactively when they see a coworker exhibiting the warning signs associated with PTSD and/or potential suicide.
Unfortunately, the “sweep the problem under the rug and hope it goes away” mentality still exists in many law enforcement agencies across the country. Hopefully, they’ll all soon come to realize that good mental health is as equally important as an officer’s ability to run a mile and earn a passing score on the firing range.
Mike Bond, a career law enforcement professional and assistant professor of criminal justice, compiled the following data for a recent article.
- 2008 police suicides: 141
- 2009 police suicides: 143
- 2012 police suicides: 126
Police suicides in the study:
- The average age of officers in 2012 was 42 at time of suicide
- The average time on job as a police officer at the time of suicide was 16 years of service
- 91 percent of suicides were by male officers
- The age in which police officers were most at risk was 40 to 44
- The time on the job when police officers are most at risk was 15 to 19 years of service
- 63 percent of police suicide victims were single
- 11 percent of police suicide victims were military veterans
- Firearms were used in 91.5 percent of police suicides
- 83 percent of the police officers had personal problems prior to the suicide
- 11 percent of the police officers committing suicide had legal problems pending
- California and New York had the highest reported police suicides
Some warning signs of police officer suicidal tendencies are:
- is talking about suicide or death, and even glorifying death.
- is giving direct verbal cues, such as “I wish I were dead,” and “I am going to end it all.”
- is giving less direct verbal cues, such as “What’s the point of living?”, “Soon you won’t have to worry about me” and “Who cares if I’m dead, anyway?”
- is now self-isolating from friends and family.
- is expressing the belief that life is meaningless or hopeless.
- starts giving away cherished possessions.
- is exhibiting a sudden and unexplained improvement in mood after being depressed or withdrawn. This is a dangerous sign because the officer has come to terms with his/her own death and is relieved the end is near.
- is neglecting his or her appearance and hygiene.
- is annoyed that he/she is going to do something that will ruin his/her career, but doesn’t care.
- is openly discussing that he/she feels out of control.
- displays behavior changes that include appearing hostile, blaming, argumentative and insubordinate or appear passive, defeated and hopeless.
- develops a morbid interest in suicide or homicide.
- indicates that he/she is feeling overwhelmed and cannot find solutions to his/her problems.
- is asking another officer to keep his/her weapon.
- is out of character by inappropriately use or displaying a weapon unnecessarily.
- exhibits reckless behavior; taking unnecessary risks on the job and/or in his/her personal life. The officer acting like – he/she has a death wish.
- is carrying weapons in a reckless unsafe manner.
- exhibits deteriorating job performance.
- has recent issues with alcohol and/or drugs.
”Preventing police suicide is every officer’s responsibility and obligation as a member of the law enforcement profession. Having the leadership and courage to change a culture of silence does not weaken the profession but strengthens the bonds that make it noble and honorable profession that protects the weak and innocent from harm.
The ethical warrior leads by example and supports others when they are down, and that includes their own.” ~ Mike Bond
*Resourse – NSA/MultiBriefs/Mike Bond