Officers are often asked for “safety tips” or “crime prevention measures” that will make citizens feel safer. They want to know how to prevent vehicles from being broken into or how to load their Christmas shopping bags without fear. You want to give them the phone number to AAA, but you politely respond with standardized speech #17 which eases their fears. Then you return to your now-cold coffee.
We give the public safety tips without thinking, but what about our safety tips? Who do we ask if we need some pointers about doing our jobs more safely and effectively? We find we are a self-supporting system with only each other’s experience to rely on. What advice would you have for officers out there if you could talk to all of them?
- Watch people’s hands This can be said again and again, and still officers ignore the rule. The odds of a suspect hurting you with their hands are many times higher than with their feet. You can practice this at the store, at restaurants or even kids functions. Make it a habit.
- Slow down There is absolutely NO call you are going to worth fleeting out. If your partner is in an old-fashioned bar fight, shooting, or whatever – the best thing you can do to help him or her is to get there.
- Passenger side approach Violator contacts are safer when you appear in their passenger side window. Also, you’ll see some pretty cool stuff from your new perspective. If you haven’t tried it, watching the violator staring at their rear view gives you a much better vantage point.
- Wear your vest I know. I live in Houston and I fully understand. It will never stop any bullets hanging in your closet. It’s important to the people who are important to you.
- Use the tools you have been given and trained with There is nothing heroic about fist fighting a drunk who is swinging a frying pan or trying to wrestle a teenage girl wielding a hammer. Know your use-of-force continuum, and be comfortable escalating when necessary.
This is not an all-inclusive list of ways to stay safe or fail proof plan for your duty hours. These are simply tried and true ideas, developed by LEOs specifically for police officers’ safety. How did I select these 5 as my top picks for safety tips? I have bled, seen another officer bleed or worn a black band on my badge and a dress uniform to a grave site for each one of these rules. These are rules to live by.
Josh Crosby has served in law enforcement 15 years as a patrol officer, narcotics investigator, and criminal detective as well as a defensive tactics instructor, in criminal interdiction and personal protection detail. Josh has trained police officers in four countries and maintains that well-trained officers are safe officers.