OK. If you are starting field training as a cadet soon with a police department, or even if you are interested in becoming a Field Training Officer than you, my friend, have come to the right place. I have a TON of shit to say about that topic. So buckle up.
I have a good friend that is preparing himself to go through the police academy and then shortly after will be out on the road for “Field Training” or their FTO program as I am used to hearing it, what prompted me to start this series. I will cover a lot of different topics in depth but this is just the primer and “off the cuff” if you will.
Rule #1: Go Home Alive. Yeah. No Shit Sherlock…
How do we accomplish this. If you look at TCCC (Tactical Combat Casualty Care) they teach their students how to respond to the leading preventable causes of death in the field. I often think of police and military work the same way. The most likely way to die as an operator? Specifically in police work?
The FBI tracks, or tries to (what could possibly fall through the cracks when a huge bureaucracy tracks violent or animated human events through a mandatory standardized reporting system???) all deaths related to Law Enforcement Officers in the US and our Territories and even some military deaths if killed during LE operations etc. The links I am providing here for you to see the SOURCE MATERIAL (something I have a habit of doing, we’ll cover that later) are both officers that have been Feloniously Killed and Accidentally Killed.
Let’s leave accidents out for today and focus on the bad guys -vs- us.
- 11 officers who died had responded to disturbance calls.
- 9 officers were fatally injured during traffic pursuits or stops.
- 7 officers were involved in ambush (entrapment/premeditation) situations.
- 7 officers died as a result of investigating suspicious persons or circumstances.
- 5 officers were conducting investigative activity (surveillance, search, interview, etc.).
- 4 officers died as a result of arrest situations.
- 4 officers were killed as a result of tactical situations (barricaded offender, hostage taking, high-risk entry, etc.).
- 3 officers were handling persons with mental illnesses.
- 1 officer was killed in an unprovoked attack.
(The above Circumstances list is an excerpt from the FBI’s webpage on 2014 LEO Felonious Deaths)
I want to point something out here that the uninitiated may not know yet, but soon will once on patrol. Unless you have the perfect squad and a smart tactical supervisor you will likely see patrol officers cancelling backup on several types of calls. I have personally seen many many circumstances where experienced officers responding to Disturbances/Traffic Stops/Suspicious Circumstances/Arrests/Mental people etc. (all listed above) cancel their backup … JUST because. We weren’t short on manpower, there was no tactical advantage of going alone, no pressing issues, just … plain … “I got this…”.
I think this is a Culture issue. Tough guys. Attitudes. Whatever. Blow me. I have worked with some VERY high speed guys and I have had what some people consider to be training that you couldn’t PAY for to get better than what was provided to me. I am CONSTANTLY seeing absolutely elementary tactical mistakes that are done blatantly and with tough-guy attitudes. “Let me just turn my back to this nut-job, he’s probably harmless”. Or one of my absolute favorites “Hey, you’re under arrest now, take a seat in my car… wait… you don’t have anything dangerous on you, do you? No? Ok, take a seat”. If I showed my face* on here than the picture of my face right now would speak more than my words sure would. (My “shocked” face… I’m sure you could imagine)
So, full circle, the top three (it’s a tie, so four) types of hopefully PREVENTABLE deaths to LEO’s would be:
A more detailed look at:
Disturbances – Traffic (Pursuits/Stops) – Ambushes – Suspicious Circumstances
- Disturbances – When people call 911 their is already a loss of communication. Dispatches have to ask certain questions in a certain order. Bureaucracy right? So you can’t just call 911 and say what’s happening. Sometimes…SOMETIMES that’s a good thing. Because a lot of callers themselves are idiots and not just the people they are calling about. So they either LIE, or LEAVE OUT DETAILS, or HAVE AN AGENDA or just plain don’t have all the facts themselves etc. Let me tell you what happens in a standard (not all cops) cop’s head. “Unit #1 and #2 please respond to a disturbance at 123 Elm Street. Caller says it’s a small group of people that have been talking loudly all night”. OK time to take a trip inside Regular-Cop’s head: “OMG these fucking assholes. I have thirty fucking emails left to dig through and I would REALLY like to look at this new tactical gun website I just found on my phone. I bet what’s happening is people being fucking normal and this nosy fucking neighbor has nothing better to do than to call us at 1am just because ‘wahhhh my neighbors are being loud’ ” So this officer responds on the radio: “This is Unit #1, Cancel Unit #2, I’ll take care of this … it’s just going to turn out to be a neighbor-issue”.
If you’re not following the picture I’m trying to paint, scroll back up to the number one cause of felonious deaths for LEO’s. Responding to disturbances.
2. Traffic – My dad had a saying back when he was a Sgt on the road he would tell his guys all the time, and I believe (and the FBI stats apparently agree) rightfully so “IF I HEAR A UNIT MAKING A TRAFFIC STOP IN THE MIDDLE OF THE NIGHT, AND ONE OF YOU OTHER GUYS ARE NEAR HIM, AND NOT TIED UP ON SOMETHING, AND I LEAVE MY DESK, GET IN MY CAR, DRIVE OUT TO THAT UNIT’S TRAFFIC STOP, AND I GET THERE AND NONE OF YOU HAVE RESPONDED AS BACKUP YET, YOU WILL BE ANSWERING TO ME”. Well he wasn’t often at his desk, he was a working Sgt but he used it to paint more of a picture which was that as a squad you had better be backing each other up, and that as a squad and a team we will create an atmosphere of using smart tactics and we will work as a team, even if the Sgt is a dickhead. 🙂
Also, dont drive like a fucking idiot. I’m sure that the “accidental LEO deaths” like above shows that quite a few cops died from driving like idiots. So a quick tip that I personally use when running reds-and-blues to a hot call; I say to myself, over and over on loop in my head “Where is the next spot that a kid could run out into the street or a dumb teen could pull out, in their first car, too fast into the street”. Keeps my speed in check. Also keeps your paycheck coming, crashes=time off, and keeps you alive not to mention.
3. Ambushes – For the short couple months that my Field Training Officer was in the passenger seat next to me, I always used to get a laugh or a sneer or a chuckle when my FTO said something to the effect of “Why are you parking all the way over here”. He laughed at my response (naturally, a great way to promote tactical operating, duh) which was something to the effect of “Well, I’m about to bury my head in the laptop for about 45 mins for this report and I want to situate myself properly so that I don’t get ambushed, or if I do, I can see it coming and respond”. (Note: try not to bury your head in your computer, build yourself some type of mental reminder like paragraph to paragraph or box to box on your report to remind yourself to look left-right-back-front-and blind spots.)
I am no longer that recruit. I am a real life big-boy with my own car and my own gun. HOWEVER I still get laughed at when I take the extra few seconds to use smart tactics an mention the word “ambush” because ambushes never happen to cops right???
4. Suspicious Circumstances – Similar to #1 above, Disturbance Calls, but even more so. ALLLLLLLLLLLL the fucking time I hear “Unit #1 and #2 respond to a suspicious car/person/whatever at 123 Elm (bad neighborhood right?). Caller states that the car/person/whatever shouldn’t be there”.
Guess what I hear next. Go ahead. Take a second and use that big sexy brain of yours. “Heyyyyyyyyyyyy dispatch. I’ll head over that way, it’s probably nothing. Go ahead and _____________________________”. Anybody? Anybody know what the most common phrase I hear is, to the 3rd/or 4th most deadly call by statistics from the FBI… “Cancel my backup… It’s probably nothing”.
Anyways, thanks for humoring me. I do love a good rant. Basically use your courage, you’re going to need it, to stand up for yourself against other idiot cops when you want to go the extra few steps and use some tactics. Come to find out I have seen more premadonna bitches in the Alpha-Male community than anywhere else.