What if the occupant bailed out, jumped the fence and fled over the bridge? Will you chase? Can you?

I often flashback to certain past events in my life, like Marine Corps School of Infantry (SOI), circa 1989. I was an 18-year-old Private sitting with the others in my platoon, paying close attention to a crusty old Gunny who was going over the finer points of how to lay a proper ambush.

I sat there trying to focus on the class, fighting through the discomfort of the previous forced march; my lips so chapped that at night they’d stick together, and each morning tearing open the wound as I awoke to eat or drink. I’ll never forget when someone broke the instructors speech by raising his hand high in the air and asking, “Gunnery Sergeant, what if this here claymore mine gets turned all around the wrong way by accident?”

There was deafening silence as we all wondered who’d ask such a stupid question. The gunny looked off to the side, shook his head and raised his right hand, adjusting his cover higher up on his forehead as he spat out a stream of tobacco and replied, “Well, what if grasshoppers had machine guns?” There was even more silence followed by, “Then birds wouldn’t mess with them!”


It’s 22 years later and I’m now the instructor, teaching firearms to academy recruits. I’ve been in law enforcement for about 10 years and, knowing my audience, this is not an exceptional duration of time. I don’t think of myself as particularly salty; I still learn new things about my job and myself almost every time I clear the station. Is that so unusual? It shouldn’t be.

The question my platoon mate asked the Gunny was a stupid question — yes, there are stupid questions. However, are we really asking ourselves enough of the right questions, such as how will we respond to crisis situations while on- or off-duty? And, are we keeping sharp by always playing the “what if” game?



What if you need to render life saving aid? Do you have any trauma gear on you? How far away is your first aid kit?


I routinely spend my own money and use my vacation time to attend tactical and job related training. I send hundreds of rounds downrange each month, and religiously carry a backup gun, tourniquet and combat gauze while in uniform, on my person. I carry a sturdy folding knife in my pocket and a third pistol magazine on my belt. I have a second shotgun loaded with slugs in my patrol car, which I take to alarm calls just in case it’s valid, and armed suspects are in fact burglarizing the place. I always carry off-duty, to include a reload or even a second gun. I surround myself with other warriors, so when I hit the field, I know there are other meat eaters out there with me. This is important enough to me, I intentionally work the worst shift so I can work with the people I do.


It would be easy to call me a nut, or maybe even paranoid. That’s a copout for those who won’t consider the options and the endgame. It’s easy to repeat the mantra of “going home safe at night,” and I don’t mean any disrespect to those who say it; but, for me, that’s not it.

Ten years ago during my first week in the police academy, we were asked to write down our greatest fear of what might happen on the job. I feared someone getting seriously hurt or killed because of something I did or didn’t do.



What if gunfire erupts from the upper-story window of this apartment as you arrive on a mundane party call?


What if my primary gun goes down? What if the car in front of me stops and someone gets out with a gun? What if my partner or I take a round to an artery while we’re on a foot patrol .5 miles from our cars? What if the guy I’m talking to decides to play MMA for the day? Do I have the skills or stamina to defeat him, or at least hold him off until help arrives?

It’s every cop’s obligation to keep their partners, citizens they serve, family and themselves safe and as free from harm as possible. It’s why I always remember that crusty Gunny’s question: What if grasshoppers had machine guns? Have you asked yourself that question lately? Ever? If not, why?