It’s funny how in our line of work, sometimes we forget things that happened in our careers. I guess we have to move on and forget incidents as the next incident over shadows the past. It was only reading comments about carrying extra ammunition that a memory of an incident popped up.
The discussion entailed an officer carrying more than his allotted departmental issue of ammo. A harrowing shootout made him realize what the department issues and feels is adequate may not translate to the realities of what we encounter on the job, in the street.
For years I carried and Smith and Wesson six shot revolver on duty with the standard departmental issue of 50 rounds. I carried 4 speed loaders thinking that that should be adequate. I was a supervisor and so thought what chance would I have of becoming involved in a fire fight? I was wrong on all counts.
The night that changed my thinking forever involved a gun battle with two rival drug gangs firing on each other with Tech 9 sub machine guns. 60 rounds were exchanged. A responding officer was pinned down and screaming for help. I was the closest unit. Pulling around the corner I found myself between the two gunmen. My main concern was to cover myself and get that officer to safety.
I looked woefully at my revolver with only 6 rounds now knowing this may not end well for me. I located the officer. He jumped into my patrol vehicle and I rammed the transmission into drive burning tires and getting he and I out of the line of fire.
The next day I purchased a GLOCK 17, qualified at the range and vowed never, ever to get caught short on firepower and ammunition. From that point on I carried two guns, at least 100 rounds of ammunition. I knew then that no officer was immune to a violent confrontation in the street involving the use of deadly force.
The sad part of what we are seeing in law enforcement is not the beefing up and training of our police forces, but rather the hands holding Officer Friendly approach with people who may not share that softer approach. From my stand point, I could have been the nicest cop on the block that night, but those individuals firing in every direction didn’t care how nice I was or caring. They wanted nothing but death for their adversary and any cop getting in their way.
Instead of toning down our police, instead of blaming them for every ill in society, instead of putting the blame for ill conceived laws in their laps, shouldn’t we, instead, be upping their capabilities? Upping their training, upping their ability to respond quickly so as to maximize the protection they could afford to the public and themselves instead of minimizing their effectiveness and ham stringing their ability to do their jobs seems to be the direction law enforcement should be taking.
Instead we see NYPD’s Bratton blaming the police for every ill throughout black history and telling their officers to close their eyes in a violent confrontation, pop a peppermint candy to calm the officer down and spray protesters with baby oil so they cannot interlock arms. The reality as I had experienced is that more officers are being shot and killed than any time in recent history. Arm them and give them the means to come home safely and stop this “feel good” approach to policing. Wake up to the reality around us or we will be burying more officers.
Captain Robert Cubby served for 38 years with the Jersey City (NJ) Police Department, now retired. A PTSD survivor, he has been involved in PTSD issues with the CISM team. A prolific author, Captain Cubby focuses on writing about his experiences and solving police problems. He is a National Alliance on Mental Health (NAMI) instructor about police matters and a frequent conference speaker.