Sunday, May 26, 2013

Older and Wiser?

When you're a brand new copper, with maybe a year or two on, you find that you run head-long into every situation, with little regard for your own safety. It's exciting. It's fun. It's scary as hell, but that's okay. It's still new.

I find the farther into my career I get, the less I feel the need to run as fast as I can into every shit storm that blows my way. I still go in of course. I just don't run blindly into it without any thought.

As a cop progresses in service time, he or she comes to realize that the bravado and all that other macho bullshit is more and more likely to get you hurt, and cause one of your partners to have to come in and rescue you. That subjects your partners to the same danger you so carelessly subjected yourself to.

I recently put two hash marks on my left shirt sleeve. That means I have over ten years as a cop. I have learned a thing or two in that time, and one of the most important of those things is caution. Do not confuse caution with fear, paranoia, or dereliction of duty.

In the past ten plus years I have experienced enough close calls... enough red flags... enough of the hair on the back of my neck standing up to realize that if it takes me thirty extra seconds to get to a call, or an extra minute to make my way through a building search, it's a good thing. If I rush into a dangerous situation, I may not get there at all. Then how much help will I be to the people who are calling for help?

I recently accompanied a young officer into one of our city parks in search of a carjacking suspect. The park is full of hills, trees, and all sorts of hides and ambush spots that are not friendly to us. As I walked into the park, the youngster trotted off ahead of me. I had to call him back several times and tell him to stay close. It took some time to convince him that I was there to cover him, and if he ran off around a bend and out of my sight there would be nothing I could do for him if he got into a gun fight.

There was absolutely no need to run after the bad guy. First off, we didn't even know if he was still in the park. Second, if he WAS in the park, he had the advantage. He had already had plenty of time to get to high ground if he so desired. Granted, most criminals are not smart enough to worry about high ground, or setting up an ambush. They just want to get away. But more and more we hear about coppers getting hurt or killed because they ran in without thinking. I'm damned if that's going to be me. I intend to have every advantage I can get when going up against the enemy.

Especially if all it costs me is a few extra seconds...


scyban12 said...

I completely agree with you. When conducting firearm or tactics courses, I tell my students that the over riding rule is the 1/10 of a second rule. It ONLY takes a 1/10 of a second to make a desison, not make a desision, take a action, or not take a action that you will regret for the rest of your life. Take a momment and think.....then act.
Personal opinion anyway.

sean embree said...

they taught similar in my first aid courses. not to run into to a unknown scene.

ASM826 said...

And that reasonable, genuine desire for self protection, the "make sure you go home at the end of the shift" thinking, is why I consider myself responsible for my own safety and security.