STREET READY: It is prime time to pull yourself up by your bootstraps


Get serious. It is time to pull yourself up by your bootstraps…

Fitness for duty encompasses mental and physical well-being. Being street ready is crucial to public safety. It is prime time to pull yourself up by your bootstraps.

Preparing oneself for modern policing is akin to passengers on a plane bracing for impact. Conversely to planes, policing contains matters of not if, but when.

The old ways of cop life are over. They seem like a very distance memory.  Contemporary events are forcing law enforcement into yet another huge reformation period.

Stop the excuses. Don’t be a p***y. You can slack off when you retire.

Street readiness in cops is now a necessity rather than just optimum output envisioned in a police force. It entails both mental and physical preparedness. In fact, it means something entirely different than it did 20 years ago. Perhaps the definition is similar, but flavored with more intensity.

The ambushes on law enforcement and bold aggressions have brought fear and horror not only to a community, but the country as a whole. The murders of fellow officers unsettle the police mind. Furthermore, they remind us how important awareness and duty fitness can affect a chance to change the tides.

Stress. It can consume you if you let it. Control it, rather than let it control you.

“Excellence is not an act, but a habit.” ~Aristotle

No longer are days of patrol or investigation considered “routine”. While there remains those days of the mundane and simple, duty has become obscure and more polarized. Police have always trained and preached to prepare for that “one day”. But are you really ready? No one may really understand preparation until those moments occur to put you in the fire.

How do you prepare for possible attacks on police officers?  Are you mentally and physically equipped to rush into a mass shooting incident?

Mind channeling, focus, and discipline are key to the new age of policing.

It would be so easy to throw your hands up and walk away from the human misery. But, being a cop is who you are and what you know. Those things called “duty”, “obligation”, and “dedication” loom over your head. Well, that and bills too. Plus, overall, it is a great career. 

“The coward is the one who lets his fear overcome his sense of duty.” ~George S. Patton

We have come to an age where elite physical fitness and mental well-being are at the forefront of the law enforcement profession and forced into the working environment. What standards suffice a baseline of officer fitness? I guess that depends upon in what condition you want to come out of in a fight. Forget department standards. Think about your individual goals and benchmarks. Is average or minimal good enough?

Changes in the mindset move these adaptations to a lifestyle rather than a discipline or job requirement. The modern world problems put a new spin on how an officer thinks, behaves, and trains. With civil disobedience and physical action being taken against law enforcement officials, police must revisit how they live.

Perhaps cliche, but true to its meaning, the warrior mindset has become a concrete part of an officer’s vernacular.  

STREET READY: It is prime time to pull yourself up by your bootstraps
Warrior Mindset (Photo Credit: Erick Le Rouge)

It is hard to comprehend the downward spiral of behavior in the United States, however, departments and organizations have to adjust to the changes and evolve to combat societal dissonance. More so now than ever, an officer’s job performance and survival is dependent upon lifestyle and training.  Ultimately, any one of us might be in a fight for our life. Other lives also depend upon how well we battle. Why wouldn’t you want to be prepared to the best of your ability?

Sure, we can all get caught up in the humdrum of the daily grind and before we know it, we are knee deep in several donuts. There is no expectation to be perfect. However, the public presumes a certain level of performance and when we serve as backup, our brothers and sisters deserve quality and competency. Our loved ones do not want that daily greeting and kiss goodbye to be the last. As for myself, I really like winning. 

This is not rocket science.

  1. Move your arses!. Physical fitness is required upon officer candidacy. Sometimes we witness fellow officers falling victim to stress which adds bulk to the belt-line. After a cop is comfortable in their career and their physical fitness declines, so do the benefits of “fit body-fit mind.” Fitness standards have been a popular issue. Fitness has never been more crucial in law enforcement than it is today. It accelerates your stamina during an average work day. Endurance and strength diminish some of the mental and physical fatigue officers undergo. At the same time, fitness helps to sustain your mental clarity throughout any given day. You cannot afford to learn from hindsight.
  2. The spooky effects of an insane brain. Ever been going through the motions and maintaining duty on the edge? Your mental status matters. Influences come from many angles which can bombard an officer’s psyche. Sleep is a big contributor to wellness and goes hand in hand with both mental and physical health. When an officer is well rested and physically fit, he or she tends to be more emotionally stable and empathetic toward others. What is well rested, you ask? It is no secret officers often suffer from sleep deprivation. Sleep seems somewhat impossible to achieve during periods of call outs and long shifts. Law enforcement decision making skills are paramount to public safety, so naturally, mental clarity counts big time. Sound reasoning is simultaneous to proper reactions in dynamic situations.  Balancing family, work, and hobbies can be a difficult undertaking. One’s emotional stability includes managing some type of sleep regimen. Quality rest, nutrition, and exercise attribute greatly to mental focus.
  3. Garbage in, garbage out. This old adage also applies to our bodies. Feed the machine. Although it is not probable that all persons will embrace clean eating habits, officers can adopt moderation. Of course we know the top three foods to avoid, but still tempt us: refined sugars, processed foods, and soda. It certainly is uncomfortable when your A.S.P. or other tools poke you in the muffin top. If you encounter a battle of the bulge inhibiting simple movement and fortitude, it is time to act. Excess pudge jeopardizes everyone’s safety and limits your physical abilities.
  4. Train the brain.Hone your skills by keeping updated and educated on police technologies, best practices, and professional standards. Emotional intelligence is comprised of components dependent upon many inputs including professional knowledge, psychological and emotional stability, interpersonal communications, reactionary skills, maturity, control, and experience. These elements are key to regulating your resolve and problem solving capabilities. Some courses are formal through police agencies and affiliates, while many books await you on the shelf. Get busy. You cannot afford to be ignorant.
  5. Good works. Who would even place community service in with emergency preparedness? Think about it. A solid community with coalitions and partnerships is your ally. Becoming a member of the community you work in will make a big impact on police receptiveness and information sharing which can be critical in a time of crisis. Personal connection is a counter move to breaking the disconnection.

Be street ready in any law enforcement position.

Early in my patrol career, I faced a hard lesson when I came up short in physical endurance on a call.  Many people call those moments “rude awakenings”. 

“The school of hard knocks is an accelerated curriculum.” ~Menander of Athens

Barely able to sustain a long foot pursuit, I reached the suspect only to end with a fight when I was almost gassed out. It was a struggle, but I got the job done. That woke me up the hard way and I vowed to never again be a liability to my peers nor citizens.

Being street ready is obviously a priority. Street ready means more than just being fit. It is above average. It includes emotional intelligence along with physical endurance and strength. But not just “good enough”. Not just minimum standards. 

As a detective, stress and call out demands overshadowed good habits at times where I had to reset my nutrition and exercise management. It was easy to slide into an unhealthy cycle when your caseload dictates your life. Before you know it, you can lose your fitness focus. 

Why do you care about my stories? You probably do not, but observations tell me my experiences are not unique ones. Too commonly, officers get wrapped up in life and lose sight of critical things. 

Ultimately, learning through hard knocks is not optimal.

Today, it has become more imperative to out train and out smart those who vilify police officers, attack our quality of life, and disrupt peace.  We can suppose most people have boundaries, but there are those times moral bankruptcy prevails. Criminals use the advantage of surprise. We have to be ready for that. Law enforcement officers must be stronger both mentally and physically than the bad guys.

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