Consider for a moment responding to a 911 hang-up call in one of your middle-class neighborhoods only find out that when you arrive the suspect you are about to encounter is a recently discharged military service veteran home from Iraq or Afghanistan. Your suspect in this incident (probably a domestic) could be a battle hardened combat veteran who has spent the last year, if not more, surviving hyper violent firefights in an urban warfare setting. Worse yet, the suspect had been trained by the military to not only survive the urban battlefield, but to shoot, move and communicate with extreme efficiency. Has the hair on your back stood up yet? To complicate matters, the veteran has been psychologically conditioned (due to combat) to fragment their personality so that they can hug and kiss their children one moment and then very quickly respond violently to kill someone they have identified as a threat as if functioning robotically. He or she pulls a trigger without hesitation and doesn't worry about litigation, politics or Use of Force Continuums.
The media doesn't talk about it, the Pentagon quietly tries to address it and the President last month directed the VA to better treat our soldiers, airmen, sailors and Marines for it. We are talking about PTSD, or Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and according to the U.S. Veterans Administration there will be approximately 300,000 of our servicemen and women being re-integrated back into our society who suffer from PTSD with varying severity.
Vets are special; they have earned our respect and admiration while at the same time it would be in our best interest to treat them a little different than everyone else, because they are different.
There They Go Again
You know what I am talking about here; that cop we've all worked with that would respond to a call in-progress and simply walk up to the front door as if making a delivery instead of deploying invisibly. How many times have you said to yourself, "One of these days...", you know it's coming. The positive relationship between poor tactics, or no tactics at all, and the officer who is killed or injured does not just affect the lazy patrolman or woman. All of us suffer from those moments occasionally where our head is not firmly fashioned where it needs to be and the best do dies sometimes, because as human beings we were engineered to fail. When the chips are down and Mr. Murphy is stacked against you then only thing that will save your backside are good tactics. By the way, our military members are taught to expect Mr. Murphy and overcome and adapt. In other words they are trained from Day One to succeed in an environment when nothing is thought will go right. Are you?
Get Better (because someone else is)
Basic patrol officers are venturing into a stage of police history where violent encounters are dramatically worse then they have ever been. Uniform officers are being tasked with more tactical roles and responsibilities, because the threat has evolved to be more militant then ever before. Waiting on SWAT can be a long wait when your adversary is trying to close in on you for the kill. Most jurisdictions in the U.S. do not have full-time SWAT so from the point the call originates until the heavy weapons platoon arrives can range anywhere from 30 minutes to 2 hours. Until SWAT gets there, it's up to the patrol units to handle the critical incident. The blending of general patrol functions with traditional SWAT capabilities is tragically in response to cops, and others, dying. This blending, I believe, will continue, as does Patrolman Matthew Wintrick of the Lakewood, Ohio, Police Division and operator for the Westshore Enforcement Bureau SWAT.