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D.I.R.G.A.F. Will Get You Killed

The acronym D.I.R.G.A.F. (pronounced Dear-Gaf and standing for Do I Really Give A F*%#) was first explained to me by a burned out, cynical defense attorney over 20 years ago.  The comment was that she really didn’t care anything about her client.  Didn’t believe he was innocent, buy his story or really care about what happened to him in court on the case we were dealing with.  Truth be told, she knew he was guilty as sin and was looking to get minimal time or a “deal” for a guilty plea.  Now, her lack of concern for her client made my case against him a walk in the park but a staunch defender of justice – she was not.

I wouldn’t want to be treated by a doctor who had a DIRGAF attitude, fly with a DIRGAF airline pilot, or have service provided by an uncaring bus driver, car mechanic, chef, or fireman. 

And I don’t want to work with or have law enforcement services provided by a cop or be supervised by someone with a serious case of D.I.R.G.A.F.

Professionals Care

Recently when dealing with a dermatologist on a suspected skin cancer spot on my face, I was reassured when the doctor personally called and left a message that the biopsy was negative and the tissue benign.  This doctor (who likes to talk guns while examining me by the way) took the time to personally call me and give me the good news.  His actions made a difference to me and my family. 

In the same period of time I’ve been confronted with police coworkers whose jaundiced attitude and lack of “giving a f*%#” whether on the range or on the street have made it difficult to train them and difficult to perform my duties.  “KD,” they say, “I just don’t care anymore.”  As they go through the motions of doing their job.  Since apathy (lack of interest or concern) is one of the Ten Deadly Errors as delineated by former lawman Pierce Brooks so many years ago in his seminal “…officer down, code three.”, (Motorola Teleprograms, Inc.; 1975).  It is certainly clear that D.I.R.G.A.F. or apathy can get you killed.

The opposite of not caring then is caring, being concerned or taking interest.  Taking an active role (interest) in your job, preparations and training will help keep the cynical or apathetic wolves at bay.  Yes, it is a crappy time in LE nationwide.  With agencies forced to do more with less and at the whim of ignorant political agendas, being a cop is tough.  That said, responding to calls or dealing with suspects while unconcerned or with little interest is a good way to get yourself and well as your partners killed, it is the exact opposite attitude that a working cop should exhibit.

In the middle of a serious resisting or shootout, no one cares that you’re burned out, disgruntled or “don’t give a crap.”

Work at It

Hopefully you don’t drive your vehicle without regular and routine maintenance.  Proper tire inflation, lubrication and tune up ensure that your automobile will get you where it is you’re headed.  Same too, your attitude and commitment to stay “dialed in” needs maintenance.  Crappy attention to the risks of the police job and lack of training in the skills necessary to perform your function can, among other things, can lead to apathy and a poor attitude which affect your ready status.  Quite honestly I don’t know of a squared away well trained officer who exhibits a D.I.R.G.A.F. attitude.  The intent focus on the will to win is the antithesis of the “I don’t care attitude.”

Pick up an LE related book or magazine, go to a training course, put on the bag clothes and work on your empty hand strikes and kicks on the heavy bag, go to the range and work on your pistol skills – energy into attention and preparation will chase away the evils of antipathy and apathy.

What Do You Care About?

I hear from officers all the time who state that they focus on their families and their private life.  They answer their calls as dispatched but don’t really care about their J.O.B. anymore.   Cool deal but if you don’t care about and focus on the preparation for and the perils of the street you may  never make it home to them.  The C.P.A. down the street can maybe afford to leave his work at work but they don’t have a national memorial for C.P.A.’s murdered in the line of duty in Washington, D.C.  There is little concern about a trend of C.P.A.’s getting ambushed by armed suspects just because they’re certified public accountants.  An accountant who doesn’t give a f*%# and engages in sloppy number crunching may lose business – a cop with DIRGAF can get himself and others killed.  The “proof in the pudding” on this topic is the number of guns and dope removed from suspects during the booking process at the county jails and the amount of contraband found by squared away officers who inspect their patrol vehicle backseats prior to their tour of duty.  A plastic baggie of dope is one thing, finding a gun or knife is another matter entirely.  Sloppy searches kill cops and are usually performed by, you guessed it, cops that “don’t give a f*%#.”

I.G.A.F. – I Give A F*%#!

Yeah, I care.  I care about you my Brothers and Sisters in Blue (Black, Brown, White and Green whatever color uniform you wear)!  Sometimes I’ve been accused of caring too much.  “KD,” they say, “you worry too much.  It will be alright.”  Justifying poor, little or no training; crappy or lack of equipment, lack of leadership and direction from the top, facilities that are in disrepair or sorely lacking – they say, “You just have to let it go.”  “That will be the day,” is my response.  My passion for law enforcement training and keeping officers alive is my driving force.  I have seen the positive effects of officers exposed to relevant and realistic training programs.  Too many officers have commented to me that training saved their life for me to back down my concern and caring about my mission.

I’ve seen how effective a properly motivated, trained, prepared and well equipped officer can be on the streets and how they can prevail in dire circumstances.  I’ve also seen how ill motivated and ill prepared officers have curled up into fetal positions and taken a beating or worse.

Final Thoughts

Take an active part in your own survival.  Work each day to properly educate, train and prepare yourself to ensure your own survival – care.  Pierce Brooks listed Apathy as #10 on his Ten Deadly Errors and stated it was, “A deadly disease for the cynical veteran police officer.”  We all have rough days and sometimes it’s good to walk away from an issue or problem at work to maintain your sanity and keep your blood pressure down.  But apathy or not caring is a disease endemic to service providers.  An uncaring clerk at the cable TV service counter can render poor service; an uncaring lawman exposes not only himself but every other Brother and Sister in blue to risk.  D.I.R.G.A.F. in L.E. can lead to D.E.A.T.H. where you are certainly free of cares of this world!


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About The Author:

Kevin Davis is a full-time officer assigned to the training bureau where he specializes in use of force, firearms and tactical training. With over 23 years in law enforcement, his previous experience includes patrol, corrections, narcotics and he is a former team leader and lead instructor for his agency's SWAT team with over 500 call-outs in tactical operations.