Riding Shotgun

The recent surge in officer layoffs may give cause to revisit history.

The bottom line is, when a fully trained police officer is on the ground, trying to handcuff a husband who just hit his wife, which question will they be asking themselves, I wonder if my Assistant Officer will be able to write this report properly and recognize which penal codes have been violated? OR I wonder if my Assistant Officer can back me up now when the wife starts beating me while trying to take my weapon? My guess is most officers will be more concerned with the latter can this person back me up and if the answer is yes, any other questions with regards to their level of academy training, knowledge of the laws and procedures will get settled later once everyone is safe and back at the station.

Drastic times require innovative thinking.

While the idea of putting a new class of officers in patrol vehicles to act as back ups may sound drastic, the fact of the matter is, statistics clearly show that two manned patrol units are less likely to be fired upon from a suspect than one a manned vehicle. Even the harden criminals who vow to go out in a blaze of glory and swear they'll never be taken alive, when all is said in done, see the merits of being tried by twelve versus carried by six. Or they might suddenly realize life behind bars wasn't/isn't that bad after all. Knowing there are two officers behind them during a traffic stop does give pause to their own fate. For those who do choose to end it all in a blaze of glory, no one can argue that two equally trained and qualified shooters are better than one-on-one; it's just simple math.

While this policy would be sure to stir up controversy amongst labor leaders and the rank and file officers on the street, one thing to keep in mind is the fact that life as we know it has changed. Regardless of whom you blame for our nation's current economic troubles, agency budgets have been and may continue to be dramatically cut with the end result being more officers put at risk. In an ideal world, we'd have enough officers patrolling our cities to provide immediate response to all calls for service, regardless of the level of priority, but that's just not the case. Drastic times require innovative thinking to help find ways to insure the safety of our officers with what little funding your agency may have.

Clearly this is not for every agency and realistically speaking a program like this may never happen. But for agencies whose staffing shortages are causing a clear and present danger to their officer's safety with no resolution in sight, you may want to consider looking back to western history for a simple, yet effective measure to help protect your most precious assets by adding shotgun riders to your force.

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