We are trained to face adversaries who have handguns, shotguns, high-powered rifles and edged weapons. The fortunate ones among us have agencies who regularly train shooting skills.
My last agency sent us to the range to qualify twice each year. Once we had qualified, we were done. The bosses considered that training. Hardly.
With regard to guns, there are electronic situational simulators, simunitions, scenario-based training with paint-ball guns or Airsoft equipment. We can practice a whole host of shoot/don't shoot exercises. Heck, for the past couple of years, a vendor has setup such a scenario room for us to use at the FOP tent site during Police Week in D.C.
Then, there is the gear.
Most (but not all) of us wear bullet-resistant body armor. Many hours of study, testing, and large amounts of money have led to new standards for body armor that have recently been put forth by the National Institute of Justice (NIJ).
We want the best handguns. We're being outgunned on the street, so high-powered rifles are becoming the norm. Some agencies, which lack the money to buy them, have enabled their cops to buy them on their own dime and then be trained and qualified to use them on the street.
What Is Reality?
My town is safe. Our residents support the police. They know that we are doing our jobs and trying to keep them safe. Bad things don't happen here.
That is an attitude that can lead a cop to his own funeral. It's called COMPLACENCY.
In preparing for the recent class, I worked with researchers at the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund in Washington, D.C. They are the source of the facts and figures used here.
Question: do the names of any of the towns listed below stand out in your memory?
- Marion, SD - population 825
- Niceville, FL - population 11,684
- Headland, AL - population 3,523
- Centreville, IL - population 5,635
- Georgetown, MD - population 5,100
Here’s what these tiny towns have in common: each one has experienced the loss of one of their officers in 2009. Each one of the cops was shot to death. There was no national news coverage. There was little attention from the media at any level.
Yet, these losses are very, very real. Each one is a father, mother, brother, sister, son or daughter to a family who is left behind in great pain. Each one represents an agency whose officers have been cut to the quick. Likely, each one died in a place where many thought, it can't happen here.
I ache when I think of the attention given the death of some famous rock and roll star turned criminal while the real heroes among us die and no once notices or seems to care.
Where Are You Most Likely To Die?
Of course, the glib answer is: anywhere.
The statistics show that in 2009, the most deadly place to be a cop is FLORIDA.
Considering the past three years, the state far in the lead is Texas. Coming in nearly tied for second place is California and Florida. Behind them are Louisiana, North Carolina and Pennsylvania.
Since the first recorded LE death in 1792, the stats pile up this way (top ten shown - contact me for the remainder of the list):
- Texas: 1,504
- California: 1,453
- New York: 1,305
- Illinois: 948
- Ohio: 743
- Florida: 719
- Pennsylvania: 704
- Missouri: 610
- Michigan: 534
- Georgia: 526
What Are You Most Likely To Be Doing?
This is where old perceptions get shaken up.
You are 190% more likely to die from an accidental event than you are from being shot. Where do most of these accidental events happen? Answer: in or around your police car. There is almost a 2:1 ratio between accidental deaths and deaths from being shot.
The next statistic surprised even me.
I teach cops how to write tickets using computers. Often, it is a handheld computer. When I first started traveling the country in this work, I was astounded at how many cops were taught to stay outside of their car when actually preparing the ticket form. In a few instances, it was even the subject of their general orders.