What if . . . terror strikes when you are nearby?

Basic police training requires the “what if” exercise. Police academy instructors drill it into recruits. Field training officers do the same with trainees. Well prepared operational plans ask the question ad nauseam. “What if” this happens? “What if” that occurs?

Planning for contingencies and worst case scenario is a key to success and survival.

A news reporter said, “This should be a wake up call,” when reporting on the terror attack in Manchester a few days ago. A wake up call? Has he been sleeping since September 11, 2001? Just because there is a perceived lull in the action does not mean terrorists have surrendered. Anyone “sleeping” in our current world climate should be ashamed. Yet I know that is reality. People have a short memory.

But what do you do when the “what if” occurs and you’re off-duty? “What if” you do not have access to your normal gear and safety equipment?

People that have not been through basic police training frequently say, “I don’t know what I’d do.” Or, “No one knows what they’d do in the given circumstances.”

Cops may not know what they would do A-Z, but there is one thing they WILL DO, and one thing they WILL NOT do when crime or terror strikes nearby.

When terror strikes nearby

They WILL DO something. Their intuitive nature requires a response to PROTECT OTHERS and NEUTRALIZE THREATS.

They WILL NOT freeze.

People have gifts. Some sing, others act, creativity flows easily from the artistic. But cops respond when others freeze or flee. It is our gift, and our curse. And don’t underestimate citizens outside of law enforcement that have this innate ability. There are plenty of stories of Good Samaritans that have become unwitting heroes.

My challenge to everyone is prepare your mind in advance. Several great Army generals have declared, “Any plan is better than no plan at all.” Plan to do something proactive that will protect yourself and others. Do not allow yourself to be slaughtered.

I joke with friends and family during trips in and out of airports, foreign and domestic, “Remember to die in action rather than on your knees.”

“What if” exercise

If you have never prepared yourself with the “what if” exercise, do it. The next time you walk into a bank, what will you do if there’s a robbery? Is your cell phone accessible to dial 911 and leave the line open? Where is the nearest place for cover? What will you do? If you are authorized to carry a firearm, is it on your person or in your glovebox?

For years I rode dirt bikes in the California desert with my sons. We could be miles from camp, in the middle of no where, and I’d play the “what if” game with them as teenagers. “What if I crashed and lay unconscious. What would you do?” I asked. “What are the basics of first aid? Which way is camp? Where would you go for help?”

While it sounds paranoid, the exercise prepared them for several emergencies they encountered during their teenage and young adult years. Do the same with your kids. Family recreation can become a valuable learning tool.

Whether you are in law enforcement or not, you need to put your mind through the “What if” exercise. The world is simply too dangerous to be mentally disengaged.

– Jim McNeff, editor-in-chief, Law Enforcement Today

(Photo courtesy Hamilton Police)