This isn’t preachy…I’m not your Mom or Dad and have made enough mistakes to not consider myself the end-all in tactics or infallible but I’m going to offer you some of the best advice you’ll ever get on officer safety. Listen. Just listen. As the saying goes, the Good Lord gave you two ears and one mouth so that you can listen two times as much as you speak.
That’s not to say that you shouldn’t ask questions if points need clarified or a topic or area of concern for you needs addressed. It just means that there exists around you tremendous experience and lessons to be learned, if you just may attention and listen to what is offered. Even if it turns out that bad advice or information was given, at least it caused you to examine the way you do things and hold them up to the light of day to see if they can sustain the close scrutiny.
I’ll give you a couple of examples:
A. You’re at the range and the instructor says, “You can possibly improve your shooting by working on your grip. I’ve noticed that your gun-hand thumb is curled downward which prevents your support hand from making full contact with the side of the pistol. Try this (and he demonstrates a proper grip).”
B. A veteran officer backs you up on a traffic stop and after you cite and release the driver he offers you this tactical tip, “Listen, why don’t you try approaching the passenger-side of the vehicle instead of walking up to the driver’s side. Depending on the environment you’re less at risk from other vehicles and suspects anticipate and plan for a driver’s side approach.”
Now you could circle your ego wagon on both bits of advice and refuse to consider that, you know what, that instructor just might know his business and might have my best interest at heart on the pistol range and you know what that old time copper might just have a point on that passenger side approach… Or you could just listen and try out their suggestions.
As an instructor in these dangerous times when violence against law enforcement just reached a ten year high in 2011 that, we: read, study, and attempt to find out the best material we can to help keep officers alive and instruct that material to the troops and they just don’t listen.
Now, we could nod our head like fellow bobble head police figures repeating the mantra, “It won’t happen to me and it doesn’t happen here. It won’t happen to me and it doesn’t happen here.” But the good instructors I know and have had the pleasure to work with and around would look at you out of their one good eye and say, “It does happen here and it can happen to you and it can happen on the next call or in five minutes. Are you prepared? Have you listened?”
Standing on the Shoulders of Giants
There’s a quote attributed to Sir Isaac Newton, “If I have seen further it is by standing on the shoulders of giants.” In my years on the J.O.B., I’ve had the good fortune to train under the greats of LE training – Bruce Siddle, Paul Whitesell, Dave Smith, Ed Nowicki, Brian Willis, Ron Avery, Todd Jarrett, and so many, many more. I count these men as friends and through organizations such as ILEETA (International Law Enforcement Educators and Trainers Association) have had the had the chance to meet and befriend so many more such as Chris Cerino, Dave Spaulding, Chief Jeff Chudwin, Chuck Remsberg, John Bostain, Coach Lindsey, Dr. Alexis Artwohl, Chuck Humes, ad infinitum. Truly, I have been blessed by being able to sit and listen to the training conducted by these great instructors and participate in their programs. When they spoke I listened and learned I was (and still am) a “sponge to learn” as the great British martial artists, writer and awesome trainer Geoff Thompson describes the process. Such great material about officer survival, tactics, firearms and even life is out there oftentimes at your fingertips even if you just look around and yes – listen.