Impediments to Your Survival

Oct. 22, 2012
How officers are their own worst enemies in their own survival

Can you, your attitude or approach to your duties actually work against you on the street in your own survival?  You bet, from a lack of study on the law and recent court decisions to engaging in a qualification mindset at the range and much more, you can build negative walls, barricades or barriers.  Let’s examine the common personal roadblocks officers erect to prevent them from achieving full preparedness, self-protection and ability.

  • Ego – We all have one and most of the hard chargers I hang with are pretty self-assured and self-confidant people.  That said, don’t let your ego prevent you from, A) Learning anything new, or B) Acknowledging your skills aren’t where they need to be or have diminished.  Arriving late and unprepared with the equipment you need to training is indicative of an ego driven attitude which says, this in unimportant.  So too is going through the motions instead of actually working up a sweat while engaging in repetitions of life saving skills.

Humble yourself to the training.  Set your aside your ego, learn and improve.  Open yourself up to learning something or engaging in repetitions to keep your skills smooth.  Understand that training is the lifeblood of the LEO and there is always something new to learn or something that is stale which needs maintenance.  Don’t get “lot rot” as un-driven cars and un-flown planes get when sitting dormant.

  • Time – There are 24 hours in each day and each week equals seven days.  That said you must find some time between 12:01 a.m. on Sunday night and midnight on Saturday to invest in keeping your backside alive and kicking.  Yes home chores, extra jobs, kid ball games and relaxing with the family are important but this J.O.B. is different than the ones held by others.  There are people out there you will kill you if you give them the opportunity or your skills are not up to stopping them.

A small investment of your time in skill development and maintenance, professional development as well as attention to your weapons and equipment will pay off when the fecal material meets the wind pusher.  You don’t pay the price for preparation; you reap the benefits – pure and simple.  Five minutes of your time spent practicing a skill – draw-stroke, baton strike, empty hand control technique, whatever – can vastly improve your abilities as well as keep your skills fresh.  The question is if five minutes can make a difference, how about 15 minutes three times a week?

  • Equipment – Recently I’ve seen some serious errors applied by officers in the approach to their equipment such as: Pistols improperly cleaned with too much solvent applied.  This leads to a sticky sludge build-up which slows or stops firing pins and strikers.  Never apply solvent directly to your pistol but rather apply to a brush or patch and then clean your handgun.

Holsters need to be inspected and replaced as needed.  I’ve seen too many holsters that are “de-laminating” from daily carry.  Not only is this an unprofessional appearance it is an indicator to dangerous suspects that the officer is not prepared.  They think – this officer doesn’t take care of equipment which means in a thug’s mind he is unprepared to defend himself.

Missing, broken or equipment in poor condition cannot aid you in your survival.  It has to be on your person or accessible, in working order and able to withstand an intense application.  Flashlights need to be bright and functional, handcuffs operating smoothly, baton and OC spray working and on your belt and more. 

This stuff only takes care of you when you take care of it!

  • Commitment – When you raised your hand and took that oath upon being sworn in you were committed and determined.  Fresh out of the academy you were in shape and focused on your career in law enforcement.  But as time and experience goes on, commitment oftentimes wanes.  What was once a laser like commitment to be one’s best begins to blur with life’s other pulls and pushes as well as cynicism.

Refocus and recommit right now because job violence in LE is a reality and it is abundantly clear that what separates winners in life and in violent encounters from losers is the commitment to train and prepare to do one’s best and make it home at the end of the shift.  That commitment drives you forward when excuses to do otherwise arise.

  • Winning Mindset – The often neglected but vitally important ingredient of proper mindset is essential to your winning the day on the street.  Even the most indifferent or lazy officer has a mindset even though it may be negative.  For instance, belief that it won’t happen here or to you, is a mindset.  It’s just an unbelievably ignorant mindset when operating as an LEO. 

What we want is a winning mindset which is premised on the fact that “it” can and will happen to you, you just don’t know when/where and you must be aware and ready for it.  That the preparations and training you engage in now are the method and manner by which you will win. 

The Winning Mindset is based on: awareness of the kinds and types of threats that exist in LE; people and environment constant threat scan; decisiveness based on knowledge of the law and hard won experience; competence/confidence in your skills based on training; accepting that fear is a natural response and that you can win the day regardless; intense drive to take care of business – to control or stop the threat, to operate safely and tactically, to get up off the deck if knocked down; to win the day regardless.

Five to Win

So what’s the opposite of building personal roadblocks to your survival?  Building strong positive links and pathways in your brain and body, thus getting the deck stacked firmly in your favor. 

  • Check your ego at the door and train to win
  • Devote some time for training to win
  • Properly clean and maintain your firearms and equipment
  • Recommit yourself to what you need to do to win
  • Sharpen and maintain your winning mindset

It all starts with a decision.  To be positive and win and to engage in those things which further that goal or to adopt a mindset and attitude which manifests itself in building brick walls and then running at them full speed?  That’s the question.  For or against – which do you choose?

About the Author

Kevin Davis | Tactical Survival Contributor

Kevin R. Davis retired from the Akron Police Department after 31 years with a total of 39 years in law enforcement.  Kevin was a street patrol officer, narcotics detective, full-time use of force, suspect control, and firearms instructor, and detective assigned to the Body Worn Camera Unit.  Kevin is the author of Use of Force Investigations: A Manual for Law Enforcement, and is an active consultant and expert witness on use of force incidents.  Kevin's website is 

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