Cause and Effect

Step outside of the patrol car in a thunderstorm without a raincoat and you're gonna get wet. Your lack of proper planning or preparations caused your exposure to the elements. Like freezing on a winter's night because you didn't dress properly; being in the dark because your only flashlight died; dehydrating on a hot summer tour of duty because you didn't drink enough water - one action or lack of action affected the outcome.

Cause and effect also known as causality examines the relationship between one event (the cause) with a second event (the effect) as a resulting consequence.

You didn't make it thunderstorm by not wearing the proper rain garb. Your dying flashlight didn't make the warehouse dark. Your failure to properly equip and prepare caused you to be wet and in the dark. Being rain soaked is a mild consequence compared to more severe impacts of lack of planning and prepping on your part. Here are some more serious effects and their causes:

  • Revolving your game plan around non-violent cooperative suspects and confronting a hyper-violent suspect intent on your demise
  • Not wearing body armor and getting shot in the torso
  • Failure to properly search a suspect and being attacked with a concealed knife or gun
  • Placing all faith in ___________ (fill in the blank with your favorite less-lethal tool) and not having a Plan B when it fails
  • Driving too fast and too recklessly to a call, losing control and colliding with a tree
  • Walking up to the driver's side of every car stopped and getting ambushed by a suspect
  • Lack of competency with your duty pistol and missing the suspect that's trying to kill you
  • Not following policy and procedures and being disciplined
  • Not using cover and being caught out in the open in a gunfight
  • Limited skills on your part while confronting a suspect who's skilled and practiced
  • Complacency - being surprised
  • Winging an enforcement operation instead of planning and things suddenly go south
  • Believing you're special and being totally shocked to find out you're not
  • Thinking it can't happen to you and finding out the hard way that it can and is right now

The list goes on but the premise that your: lack of training and practice, failing to carry or wear the right equipment, exercising poor tactics, driving too damn fast, not paying attention, violating policy, and thinking it can’t or won’t happen to you - can result in injury or death to you, other LEO’s or innocent citizens - all cause and effect of your own actions.

The Antithesis

...Or opposite of the foregoing is that you control the only thing(s) you can in this here world - yourself. Truth is that it can and does happen to law enforcement officers everyday in this country and that the only way you can influence the outcome is by practicing proper prior planning and preparing like your life depends on it.

As ruthless as needed, for as long as necessary.
- Gen. George Patton

I can't tell you what your fight will look like, how long it will take, distances, time frames, number of suspects, amount of light and I can't tell you what you'll need to win it. What I can tell you is that everything you need has to be on your person and only accurate and effective force on target will affect the outcome and that in some cases your life hangs in the balance. I can also tell you that your prior training will matter. To what extent and in what manner is up to how recent, relevant, realistic and repetitive it was.

When Capt. Sullenberger pilot of US Airways flight 1549 hit a flock of birds shortly after taking off from New York's LaGuardia Airport, he was confronted with two disabled engines and a planeload full of passengers. At that instant he only had time to fly the plane. Capt. Sully didn't have time to think about how he would ditch the plane in the Hudson River he only had time to make the decision and fly the plane. Sullenberger's preparations for this amazing display of piloting were done long before in his committed physical and mental training. In this case the effect of catastrophic engine failure was mitigated by a man who trained his whole life to be that good and be ready.

In an interview with Katie Couric Capt. Sullenberger said, "One way of looking at this might be that for 42 years, I've been making small, regular deposits in this bank of experience: education and training. And on January 15 the balance was sufficient so that I could make a very large withdrawal."

Ask Capt. Sullenberger if it can happen to you. I'm sure if you ask him what it took for him to safely ditch the plane he would say everything he had and then some.

Control the effect by anticipating and preparing for the cause. Head in the game, arms and equipment ready, anticipating resistance and ready with a trained response - ready to fly the plane when and if it becomes necessary. For the love of goodness, read Capt. Sullenberger's quote above again take it to heart and apply that mindset and preparation to your law enforcement career. That cause will result in a direct, positive and powerful effect on you.