I re-read this article recently and believe it is a perfect reminder for us as we work in the security and law enforcement fields.
Over the years I have seen many variations of “deadly errors” that law enforcement and security officers make to get themselves hurt. I invite you to draw up this list in your own words and post it where you think it will do the most good. It isn’t just a good reminder to you, but to everyone who reads it and many of its points can make all occupations safer and more aware.
1. Failure to maintain proficiency and care of weapon and equipment. How many officers do you know who are trying to prove they can go several qualifications without cleaning their firearm? Ask almost any range master in any agency. They’ll tell you some incredible “dirty gun” stories.
2. Improper search, no search, and improper use of handcuffs. I was recently reminded about this by a young officer’s death. He had been killed in a booking area by a hidden weapon that had been missed even though the suspect had been in the custody of numerous officers. When we, as security officials arrest and hold for the police, let’s make sure we aren’t transferring a criminal that has a hidden weapon on him because we didn’t do our job. Since that death, the booking officers have reported that several hundred weapons have been recovered from arrestees who were not searched properly, in that same county.
3. Sleepy or asleep. In the era of 12-hour shifts and off-duty jobs taken to ease financial stress this is more important than ever. Tired officers are a danger to themselves, and to others. Get your rest.
4. Relaxing too soon. “Yes” people can become “no” people in an instant, and it is important to make sure the whole scene is safe before you kick back and savor another great arrest.
5. Missing the danger signs. Many people leak anxiety to us merely because they are stressed, but they could be planning to hurt us. Pay attention, know the difference, and listen to the verbal cues as well as the nonverbal hints.
6. Taking a bad position. Since when is a rose bush cover or a high-risk stop distance 10 feet? Tactically sound positions and real cover can make a huge difference in your ability to win.
7. Failure to watch their hands. When my alter ego Buck Savage told Rookie to “watch the hands,” he was dead right and yet how many times do officers fail to do this simple task? Get into the habit of observing and paying attention to: the overall person, their hands and their surroundings.
8. Tombstone courage. Many lists call this failure to wait for back-up or “The John Wayne Syndrome.” I call it foolish and a good way to get others hurt as well as yourself.
9. Preoccupation. Science now confirms that if we aren’t focused inside our head, we have a very real chance of getting hurt, that is, if we are doing anything more than sitting on the couch.
10. Apathy. This bad boy kills us like Raid kills bugs. It is caused by things like routine, familiarity with the suspect, years of getting away with bad habits, or simply losing the love of the job. Worse, this is a tough one to see when it’s in the heart of someone you care about. Apathy is such a passive trait, and it often causes one or several of the other nine deadly errors on this list. Watch for it in yourself and in others.
Write this list using your terminology, your impressions, your own experiences and then post it wherever you think it matters. Challenge others to make their own lists. But whatever you do, don’t make the mistakes on this list.
Wow, Christmas season again! It is most of our favorite time of the year. Please make sure you keep in mind that there are some desperate folks out there and just because it’s the holidays, not everyone is in the Christmas spirit! Keep yourself and those you are working to protect safe at all times. Thanks for working with us in 2013. I am forever grateful to the fine men and women that comprise the TriCorps workforce. Have a wonderful Christmas and holiday Season. Thanks for a job well done in 2013.