The latest FBI statistics for 2013 indicate nearly 50,000 officers were victims of line of duty assaults. Almost 30% of the assaulted cops were injured, and in almost 80% of the attacks the thugs used personal weapons, i.e., hands, fists, feet, etc. Based on the number of officers employed, the rate of assaults on cops for 2013 was almost 10 per 100 sworn officers. The takeaway? The likelihood of you being attacked is great, particularly in today’s explosive climate of hatred toward the police. In addition, preliminary 2014 statistics show 51 LEOs feloniously killed in the line of duty. That’s an 89% increase from the previous year. Not good.
Recently, a detective in Birmingham, Alabama was pistol-whipped unconscious during a traffic stop. Obviously, an altercation occurred and the thug was able to gain control of the officer’s weapon. The question then becomes, “Officer, why didn’t you shoot your attacker?” Sadly, the detective replied he didn’t shoot the man because of the outcry surrounding a spate of police shootings nationally. What’s worse, after the beating onlookers took photos of the injured cop and made disparaging remarks about the incident on social media.
In another instance, three thugs in Queens beat an NYPD cop as he tried to tow an illegally parked motorcycle. They knocked him to the ground, and then robbed and beat him until a neighbor waving a big stick eventually scared the men off.
Because of recent events in Ferguson and Baltimore, civil unrest seems to be almost sanctioned by city fathers, the media, and even some chiefs. Mobs are allowed to form and block traffic on Interstates, a crime, yet no action is taken. There’s an old bromide that states, “the inmates are running the asylum.” We’re seeing that happen in some of our major cities. We saw the Baltimore mayor order the cops to stand down and allow rioting. In Ferguson, we saw police allow rioters to loot and burn businesses. It’s clear the cops were not at fault in those incidents. Orders came from on high—misplaced and erroneous to be sure—but cops were ultimately blamed. Thugs, it seems, no longer bear responsibility for their criminal actions.
The result of allowing lawlessness to rule the streets is that the profession of policing has lost respect. The media, and subsequently, police departments, scrutinize officers every move. Discipline seems swift and harsh. Can anyone blame our men and women in blue for not being aggressive and taking thugs off the street? I’m surprised arrests are still being made, particularly when a crowd of screaming, threatening miscreants show up at every call and impede the police in their official duties.
One thing is certain—the lack of respect and the unprecedented scrutiny of police has emboldened every knuckle dragger on the street. They don’t think twice about attacking a cop because they know the crowd and the media will back their actions. It’s as if attacking the police is in vogue . . . it’s politically correct.
This untenable situation means officers must be overly vigilant to protect each other. That translates to being in battle ready condition on even the most innocent of calls, even those that may only require a report being written. In particular, defensive tactics must be sharp and up to speed. Ground fighting expertise is a must because more often than not the battle will go down to the ground. It’s imperative you know how to fight on your back and be able to retain your weapon. Just as important as physical tactics is having a warrior mindset. Know and be convinced that you will win and are prepared for every confrontation. Routinely review the “what ifs” and visualize taking action.
Officers should be routinely trained on deploying the Taser. There’s no way we can win every physical altercation, and part of winning is transitioning from a physical confrontation to one involving less lethal or lethal. Someone is always bigger and badder than we are. Moreover, we shouldn’t be expected to win MMA-type fights, that’s not why we were hired. And that’s also why we have less-lethal weapons. However, Tasers are not always effective, and their use should always involve having a second option.
Although we still have batons and chemical agents in our less-lethal toolkit, their use doesn’t always achieve the sought after results. Chemical deployment, in particular, often affects the officer as much as the intended subject. Batons, by their very nature, cause physical harm and sometimes visible injury as well. Use of batons are prima facia evidence to the media of police brutality, regardless of the circumstances. I see fewer officers deploying either.
The bottom line is working the streets today is more dangerous than ever. Social media, movies, erroneous news reports, and outright lies are triggering violent behavior aimed at the Thin Blue Line. Now, more than ever, your survival skills need to be the best they’ve ever been. Don’t wonder if you’ll be attacked, be ready for when it happens.
Stay Safe, Brothers and Sisters!