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How Serious Are You About Your Officer Survival…Really?

How Serious Are You About Your Officer Survival…Really?

Are you serious about your officer safety and survival? No really, are you? We all read the officer killed summaries, lament the tragic circumstances, vow “that will never happen to me” and then within a week or two we often go right back to work and engage in the same habits and tactics that have always allowed us to “get by.”

As we continue ahead into a year of increasing violence against law enforcers and general uncertainty in our society, please take more than a few minutes to examine your own work habits, attitude and mindset, and ask your self a few tough questions.

How Are my Driving Habits?

I used to love to drive fast; it was one of my favorite things about being a cop. It wasn’t until fairly late in my career that I realized how terribly dangerous and utterly unnecessary excessive speed can be, and yet we continue to die (or become gravely injured) in preventable traffic crashes.

I just received an email from an investigator friend of mine who asked “If we all slowed down by 10 mph and we all wore our seatbelts, how many lives could we save?” She raises a good point. How fast do you drive? Do you mistakenly think that the rest of the motoring public pays any attention to your marked car, your overheads and your siren? Do you wear your seatbelt or are you depending on the airbag and a bit of luck to save you in a crash?

The next time you plop yourself into the driver’s seat of your patrol car, the transport van, or your unmarked unit, tilt that rearview mirror toward you, look yourself right in the eye, and ask “Are there things I can do to make myself a better, safer driver?” The answer is undoubtedly going to be “yes there is!” Do them.

Have I Become Complacent?

There’s always lots of talk about “routine” in officer survival training; how bad it is, how dangerous. And yet cops are such creatures of habit; our lives are often so chaotic that certain routines actually comfort and calm us. This isn’t all bad.

I used to put my gunbelt on in the exact same manner every morning, making sure to check every tool in the same order; this ritual helped me transition from off duty to on. Ordering the exact same coffee and bagel every morning isn’t a bad thing either; but doing so at the same time and at the same place most defiantly is.

Making sure you shake every door and check every roof in your permanent nightshift patrol beat is a good thing, but you have to change up the time and order of your checks in order to be effective. In other words, you must always be “unpredictable” to the public and to the bad guys.

What About My Equipment?

When was the last time you conducted a full inspection of your gear; ALL of your gear. Not just your firearm, but your belt, your keepers, your knife, your handcuffs, all of it. Does anything look worn? Does it all fit properly? Are your ‘cuff hinges fast, is your knife blade sharp, are your extra magazines in good shape? Do you carry a back up gun? How about a tactical knife (one made to defend your life, not just to cut seatbelts and jimmy doors)? What about my body armor?

Do I wear it; ALL the time, EVERY time? Do I wear it properly, does it fit, have you checked the expiration date? (yes, body armor expires!) Without proper care, holsters can fail, belt keepers can break, and you could be decreasing your chances of winning a confrontation.

Do I Monitor My Health & Fitness?

We lose cops to heart attacks with some frequency (99.9 % of them are male by the way), but not all are fitness or age related. Additionally, some officers die because they aren’t fit enough to stay in a physical confrontation long enough to win or they don’t have enough stamina at the end of a foot pursuit to finish the fight.

Your body is one of your most important “tools” and you need to take care of it. Being “healthy” isn’t just about how far you can run or how much you can bench press, it also means being aware of your family medical history and making time for regular physicals. I know a number of police officers who discovered they had cancer, diabetes, or blocked arteries as a result of the department’s annual physical. Don’t avoid the doctor, watch your weight, learn about nutrition and hydration, and listen to your body!

How is My Attitude and Mindset?

It’s easy to get down in this job; we deal with the worst of society on the street or in the jail, and in the station we usually have to function within a life-sucking bureaucracy that is a necessary evil of government work.

Check your attitude. Do you let everything get to you? Are you easily frustrated, frequently angry? Pick up a copy of David Pollay’s new book The Law of the Garbage Truck. Learn to let things go and move on, learn to forgive others and especially to forgive yourself. Anger, frustration and what the kids call “drama” can be detrimental to your officer survival.

If you are distracted by a fight with your spouse, a negative comment by your sergeant, or your own poor performance during yesterday’s qualifications, you won’t be 100% ready to win when the unexpected occurs. Fix what needs to be fixed, get your game on, and make sure your mindset is where it needs to be. You must see yourself as a “winner” every time you hit the street.

There is no denying the “war on cops,” we’re getting shot at, run over, stabbed, and assaulted every single day, so you must commit to doing everything you can to increase your own chances of survival, and by doing so, you’ll be a role model to your brothers and sisters in blue, which will increase their chances of winning as well. Stay safe!


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    hydroponic3

    over 3 years ago

    58 Comments

    Interesting read, I feel it's important to know about these things.

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    AFlemingJr

    over 3 years ago

    48 Comments

    Thanks again for a well written article.

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    JAG45

    over 3 years ago

    90 Comments

    Erery so often you have to stop and take a look around, and a long hard one at yourself.

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    jwoods4290

    over 3 years ago

    66 Comments

    thats oustanding.. gotta say i like this website alot. credit to you.

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    AKangel

    over 3 years ago

    4976 Comments

    Great article, Thanks Sgt Smith, BE Safe.....

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    SStrauss

    over 3 years ago

    1256 Comments

    Thanks Sgt. Smith. Stay safe and BE safe.

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    hasaan0406

    over 3 years ago

    104 Comments

    excellent information and reminders...thank you for your knowledge, experience and commrodery. have a great weekend all and BE SAFE!!!!

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    TreeHugger719

    over 3 years ago

    464 Comments

    BUMP @ TxLeo1210

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    TreeHugger719

    over 3 years ago

    464 Comments

    Great Article!!!

    @SHARRI8: This article has nothing to do with improper police work and your extremely random comment is neither appropiate here nor appreciated, not by this Officer anyway.

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    MIKIESPLACE

    over 3 years ago

    1372 Comments

    well done.

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    SHARRI8

    over 3 years ago

    106 Comments

    I TRY TO ALWAYS SHOW RESPECT TO EVERY POLICE OFFICER I HAVE EVER ENCOUNTERED.BUT I HAVE NO RESPECT FOR ANY POLICE OFFICER WHO WOULD ALTER A POLICE REPORT....FOR HIS OWN GAIN......REMEMBER WE AS THE PUBLIC HAVE PUT OUR TRUST IN YOU TO PROTECT US......

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    USLawman1983

    over 3 years ago

    1572 Comments

    Great article, Sarge. I'll pass it on. I just wish all heeded the advice. I still see some deputies not wearing body armor and rarely go to the range.
    I never wanted to go that route so seven years ago I quit smoking once and for all, and two years ago I lost 60+ lbs. and have kept it off since. Three days a week in the gym w/ lots of cardio, weightlifting and boxing.
    Twice a month at the range for meaningful, realistic training. Even though I've been in this game for 28 years, I still consider myself a work in progress and always looking to keep my edge sharp. Websites like PL and articles like yours are a part of that as well. Thanks & be safe.

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    CJ017

    over 3 years ago

    8 Comments

    Excellent article, and great head-start for anyone who wants to become a police officer, and for those who are already serving in the force to stay alert and ALIVE!

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    TxLeo1210

    over 3 years ago

    28 Comments

    One of the best articles I have read in a long time. Simple and straightforward. I preach a number of these points to all those I supervise. I had to take a little heat when I made it a "requirement" that all my guys on my shift carry a blade with them, but I got through it by enlightening some people. Stay safe brothers and sisters. Like I tell my guys everything else can be fixed, but you getting yourself, or another officer, hurt or killed because of a lack of officers safety... that can't be fixed, once it's done, it's done!!!!!.

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    gcoleman

    over 3 years ago

    2440 Comments

    "Gentleman this is a football" Vince Lombardi>mindset of focus and freshness in the basics.

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