By John Thomas Grohn
Are You Good Enough?
Ah, the Internet. Where people can sit in the relative safety and comfort of their humble abodes (whether they live with mom and dad is really not relevant) and spout off at all things of which they probably have little exposure to. This includes tactics and how it pertains to law enforcement.
I’m guilty of lurking around several forums. I sometimes post but rarely respond to idiotic topics or discussions. I mean really, what’s the point of putting in my 2 cents, responding to some unknown person vomiting all his opinions and theories into the computer? Opinions that he heard from a friend, or theories he thought up while playing the latest online action game. But sometimes — just sometimes — someone gets my goat and I have to respond to something I read on these forums.
Think About This
Let me give you a scenario. You’re working uniformed patrol on the night shift for a mid-sized agency of about 100 officers. You share your sector of responsibility within the city you work with another officer. Your town isn’t New York City hectic, but it’s fairly steady in terms of volume of calls. You’re a 10-year veteran of law enforcement. You train every so often at the police range, which mostly consists of square range shooting, trying to get better at your department’s qualification course. No stress, no change in your training curriculum. You’re an average shot at 3 to 10 yards when the range is all yours and there’s no pressure. You’re carrying around 15 or so extra pounds, but hey, life is hard. You work, go home, eat at weird times, have court every so often, kids, the wife and home repairs. You’re a busy guy; physical fitness comes last for you.
One night, you and your partner, who’s a lot like you in terms of their approach to training, get a fairly “routine” noise call. The reporting party is complaining they hear a loud stereo and loud voices coming from a house next door. By God, it’s 10 p.m. and they have work in the morning. Yes officer, I’ll gladly sign the noise complaint.
U p the stairs you go, maybe just a little out of breath given the three flights you walked up. With a little bit of “lets get this over with” attitude, you give the door a good rap with your flashlight. No response from the occupants, but you can hear the music from five blocks away. And if you really listen, you think you hear a child crying. So you knock a bit harder and yell from the front door, “Police! Turn down the music and come to the door!”
On the third hard rap with your flashlight (LAPD can’t do this due to the Nerf lights they carry) the door swings open fast — and hard. Looking at you is a small boy, maybe 9 years old. He is crying and there’s what appears to be blood on the front of his Spiderman jammies. You try to speak to him but the noise is so loud, your voice is lost in the bass of the music. The boy is crying now and you can see the tears falling down his cheeks. “Your mom what?” you ask.
As you stand there in the doorway, trying to decipher your situation, mom’s boyfriend comes into your view. “No, this is not right,” you say to yourself as you see the blue steel gun pressed up against the temple of mom.
With the music blaring and the child crying you hear him say, “I’ll kill her.”
Know What You Can Control
Let’s take a step back from the scene. Your time to prepare, your time to test yourself, your time to make decisions, is prior to going into service. Police work is full of variables. The seemingly mundane may spiral out of control and turn into a hot mess. What can you control?
You can’t control who covers you on the call, or the suspect who has it in his mind that you’re the great Satan and you must die. You can’t control the domestic violence victim who decides you will not arrest her abuser.
You can only control you. You need to be prepared. You need to learn to pre-think situations. You need to practice not standing flat-footed, saying such things like, “Huh? What?” There’s a reason martial artists stand with their knees bent — to move in any direction instantly.
Find your inner martial artist.