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Complacency vs. Paranoia

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Sg_max50

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Posted almost 5 years ago

 

Where does one draw the line between remaining uncomplacent(not a real word) and paranoia? I know an officer should never become complacent with any situation but does that lead into paranoia and that "us vs them" mentallity? Do officers feel that they can never trust anyone or are they just more guarded when first meeting someone? This is something I never get to ask on a ride-along, but I would like to hear your opinions here. I cant read this in a book and am curious about this side of the LE perspective. Does that "us vs them'' mentallity just come with the territory for every officer or am I just confusing it with gut instinct?

White_shirt_max50

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Rate This | Posted almost 5 years ago

 

First I would like to commend you on a very good question. There is no one size fits all response as all situations differ. Also keep in mind we are all wired differently. A domestic call or a felony vehicle check and the adrenalin rush kicks in. A call such as a minor theft or vandalism will be approaced in a more relaxed attitude. I have heard radio communication with officers in a high speed pursuit who speak in a normal tone while others may scream and shout their transmission. In this profession it is difficult to trust people as many lie even when the truth is easier. Some officers do take the Us vs. Them mindset. I may have drifted away from your questions on my response but wanted to give examples of  how officers are different.

Nqdz7m_max50

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Rate This | Posted almost 5 years ago

 

This is an intelligent question and one not often addressed in formal studies.  My guess is that seasoning has something to do with it, as well as the individual's personal approach to given situations, as chiefdennis has said.  I'm looking to seeing other input here!

Photo_user_blank_big

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Rate This | Posted almost 5 years ago

 

 Excellent question!

Vscndsign_max50

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Rate This | Posted almost 5 years ago

 

I think you're talking about having discernment.. which is like having instincts - being able to read people vs. just being like a Robot..


This is what really bothers me about 911 and how we now deal with and treat people who have to fly. 


I'd say it's always best to be safer than sorry but sometimes how people in positions with power handle things can turn that saying around somehow.

Vscndsign_max50

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Rate This | Posted almost 5 years ago

 

I think you're talking about having discernment.. which is like having instincts - being able to read people vs. just being like a Robot..


This is what really bothers me about 911 and how we now deal with and treat people who have to fly. 


I'd say it's always best to be safer than sorry but sometimes how people in positions with power handle things can turn that saying around somehow.

Th_detective_max50

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Rated +1 | Posted almost 5 years ago

 

The main diference between non-complacency and paranoia is that the paranoia infers an unnatural fear or overwhelming sense of dread about a situation or series of events.  Someone who is truly paranoid could never survive in a LEO work environment.  I do not see paranoia as a common trait among the LEOs that I have worked with over the past 30 years.  What I do see is a sense of tactical awareness.  By its very nature our work is dangerous, even deadly in some instances.  Our uniforms and our jobs make us easy targets for those with the mindset to hurt or kill us. It is when we let our guard down that we are most susceptable to injury or death.


Tactical awareness is a LEO mindset in which we approach each encounter with a sense of prepredness, based upon our training, for any situation that may arise during that encounter.  While we fully understand that not everyone we come in contact with poses a physical threat to us, we also fully understand that those who do pose that threat do not come to us with a specific costume or sign identifying them as such. Tactical awareness is an alert state of mind in which we are aware of our surroundings and those individuals within those surroundings.  It is much easier to deal with a situation that you see coming, or are prepared for, than to deal with a situation that takes you completely by suprise or off balace (either physically or mentally).


LEOs train continuously so that much of our tactical awareness becomes second nature to us.  It becomes instinctive rather than having to pause to think about it.  Those that fail to practice tactical awareness, or become complacent, tend to be the ones most prone to attack, although even the most seasoned veteran LEO with a full tactical mindset is not totally impervious to such an attack, he/she is just more likely to survive the attack because of the ability to react quickly based upon their tactical mindset!


 


"Be a yardstick of quality. Some people aren't used to an environment where excellence is expected."
Steve Jobs

Retleo (MODERATOR #8)
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Rate This | Posted almost 5 years ago

 

I don't trust anybody upon first meeting them. I don't see it as being paranoid as much as erring on the side of caution. That attitude of "Us vs. Them" is actually real, and once you get into LE you'll see why.  It's really easy to get too. When you have to arrest a woman who dipped her 6 months old baby's feet in boiling water to make the baby stop crying, or the man who kept his daughter literally locked in a closet for 4 months. It quickly becomes an "Us vs. Them" world. These are the same people you see at the Grocery Store everyday etc. So you never know about some people until you REALLY get to know them, and even then not really.

Sg_max50

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Rate This | Posted almost 5 years ago

 

Thanks everyone for your responses.


Chief, thanks for getting the ball rolling. It's a big topic and didn't really have one direction in mind, hence the multiple questions, so there is no one answer I am looking for. You all touched on some good points. Complacency kills as I've heard time and time again and I understand the need for an officer to always prepare for the worst. As LE's you guys put your lives on the line every day and when it's you life at stake, you can't be too cautious. BSL1123 actually touched the core of what I was interested in. Does that Tactical Awareness (mentioned by retleo)  carry over into everyday life to the point where you feel you just can't trust anyone, at least not right away? It sounds like for some it may. That is more where I was getting at with the paranoia aspect, in terms of how one is affected outside the job. Is that why officers tend to befriend other officers? Also, when I think of the word paranoia, I am thinking of the stress involved with having that Tactical Awareness mind set all the time. Does this mind set effect relationships peronally and professionally for that matter. I'm not even saying it's a bad thing. I can see how having this mindset is a great thing. I welcome and look forward to hearing the positive and negative sides of having this mindset


 

Sg_max50

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Rate This | Posted almost 5 years ago

 

chiefdennis says ...



First I would like to commend you on a very good question. There is no one size fits all response as all situations differ. Also keep in mind we are all wired differently. A domestic call or a felony vehicle check and the adrenalin rush kicks in. A call such as a minor theft or vandalism will be approaced in a more relaxed attitude. I have heard radio communication with officers in a high speed pursuit who speak in a normal tone while others may scream and shout their transmission. In this profession it is difficult to trust people as many lie even when the truth is easier. Some officers do take the Us vs. Them mindset. I may have drifted away from your questions on my response but wanted to give examples of  how officers are different.



You didn't stray at all. I was thinking that an officer may have this Tactical Awareness mind set all the time which may be stressful. I think you are in part saying that, at times this may be true, but there are situations where the awareness may not be so heightened. Thus, an officer is objective to each situation they enter and react as the situatuion changes.

Sg_max50

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Rate This | Posted almost 5 years ago

 

ShockUSMC87 says ...



I havent been a cop for long and I have already devloped the full blown "Us vs. Them" mentality. I had it as a Marine too, but not this bad.


I question my trust with friends I have had for years and years now and for no reason.....however police officers whom I havent known nearly as long have my trust. Im not sure how it works or why it devlops, but it does.


Once again I havent been in the profession for long, but it is true that as a LEO u see the worst the world has to offer and over the past couple of days I have seen things that has blown my mind.....I would venture to say thats a major contributing factor.



Good point. I guess it just comes with the territory. Are there any officers that don't have this kinda mentallity? IMO, LE is a unique career in that you are not only and LE on the job, but off the job as well. It becomes a lifestyle. Shock, do you think it's wrong to distrust friends you have trusted for years now? Do you think It's right to have instant trust in an officer you just met? I'm not implying anything, just looking for insight and opinions.


P.S. Glad your training's going well.

Wcsa_range_deane_p7240007_max50

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Rate This | Posted almost 5 years ago

 

One person's tactical awareness is another person's paranoia.  As has been said, after you've had to deal with extreme situations and lying people long enough, you learn to approach new people with a sense of caution/aloofness. 


Not that different (in principal) from the following situations:


- a person who's been burned multiple times with relationships - they learn not to blindly trust new people.


- a person who's been laid off or screwed over by management - they learn not to blindly trust employers or supervisors.


- a person who's had their house or car burglarized - they never feel 100% safe again.


In all these cases (including police work), I consider it just smart tactics and ways to deal / survive.


 

Sg_max50

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Rate This | Posted almost 5 years ago

 

dino98 says ...



One person's tactical awareness is another person's paranoia.  As has been said, after you've had to deal with extreme situations and lying people long enough, you learn to approach new people with a sense of caution/aloofness. 


Not that different (in principal) from the following situations:


- a person who's been burned multiple times with relationships - they learn not to blindly trust new people.


- a person who's been laid off or screwed over by management - they learn not to blindly trust employers or supervisors.


- a person who's had their house or car burglarized - they never feel 100% safe again.


In all these cases (including police work), I consider it just smart tactics and ways to deal / survive.


 



That's a good point. Good examples. As I mentioned above, I can see it as a good and bad thing. As you put it, this "mentallity" seems to be a learning experience and thus, one is bettered by the circumstance. That's good and I agree. On the other hand it seems it can become a problem as well. Sometimes people who are victims of "burglaries", "bad relationships" need treatment because their mentallity affects them in a negative way, impacting their life. Just a thought. Thanks for the response.