Statistically, you're correct

     Law enforcement officers almost have to be de facto criminologists. After all, they base behavioral predictions on past practices. Coupled with common sense, the officer can increase crime solving success rates and improve safety by looking at...


     Law enforcement officers almost have to be de facto criminologists. After all, they base behavioral predictions on past practices. Coupled with common sense, the officer can increase crime solving success rates and improve safety by looking at past occurrences to predict likely outcomes.

     There are simple past practices which officers institutionalize, such as things suspects generally do in a foot pursuit. For example: Most suspects will run a short distance then look for a place to hide; In a vehicle pursuit, the most likely turn is a right turn; and, statistically, policy-makers who include a foot pursuit procedure directing officers to respond toward the direction of travel to set up a perimeter, then sweep inside the perimeter are likely to be on the right track.

     Institutional knowledge and statistics help officers make decisions likely to keep them safe. To illustrate this, understand that there are more potential hazards in a bedroom than a living room making it beneficial to locate a light switch. Additionally, looking at statistics on a national scale, close combat shooting practice is most productive.

Bedrooms and kitchens are bad, living rooms are better

     When an officer enters a residence, he immediately places himself at a disadvantage. After all, the officer is the least likely person to know the current layout of a residence. However, there are certain areas more desirable than others.

     First, the officer must create a foundation of safety — watching the hands and scanning for additional subjects should be automatic. Not only while investigating a simple call in progress — even when the call for service is to take a report of a previous incident — it is beneficial to scan a room for potential problems.

     The aspect of territoriality should be a consideration anytime an officer contacts a potential suspect. Territoriality is an adaptive psychological trait when someone has an instinctive need to defend an area within his or her perceived boundaries. However, these limits do not necessarily have to be geographical.

     Territoriality can create a psychological barrier to investigations and an increased risk to officers. For example, it is common for individuals to react when someone infringes on the proximity of their spouse or significant other ("their territory"). For the purposes of officer safety, it is usually better to have the significant other out of sight when handcuffs go on, even if they are the victim.

     The higher the investment in territoriality, the higher the dangerous and threatened a suspect can become. Each person establishes a personal space in his or her psychology. Because a bedroom is significantly more personal than a well-trafficked living room, a person will generally show more aggression there. This aggression can manifest itself in the form of evading questions while rooted in the bedroom, refusing to leave the bedroom or an overt willingness to fight in the bedroom. Although this behavior is hard to predict and even harder to gauge, officers may get better results during interviews and can lessen intensity and hostility of interviewees in common areas like the living room.

     Another reason why bedrooms are not an optimum choice of environments is that people are more likely to have hidden weapons in areas where they have more control. There are fewer possible weapons in the well-trafficked living room — more in the bedroom. On that note, edged weapons are most likely found in the kitchen.

     Armed with this knowledge, officers should make every effort to conduct their business in common areas, whenever possible.

Grab a light switch

     Houses are constructed in conventional ways. It is predictable a light switch that will illuminate most of the room is on the wall just where one can reach it before entering the room.

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