Ambush prevention: Get your head out of your apps
As a police trainer and a career-long field training officer, I have to say this about many of the officers, who have started in the last several years or so.
If you do not change your behavior, you will be the most prone-to-ambush generation of police officers in history thanks to one deadly addiction you have.
The AM-FM Radio
As an FTO, I used to tell officers on their first night with me, “While on patrol, a patrol officer should attempt – every minute of his or her shift – to actively use all five senses."
To ensure that I succeed in this goal, I never turned the AM-FM radio on. I choose to keep it off, patrolling with the window open. In this manner, I am more likely to hear glass breaking, tires squealing, or a woman screaming for help.
Sometimes I’d turn the ignition on and the radio would invariably be left blaring by whoever had the squad before us. I would say something pithy like, “I guess not everyone agrees with me on this, but I for one choose to listen to my beat on duty and listen to the beat off duty.”
Technological Tunnel Vision
The AM-FM radio is a slight distraction compared to the sinister technological tunnel vision caused by personal technology. There are too many on-duty cops with a heads-down posture engrossed and even mentally incapacitated by the act of texting.
It is an incessant unending cycle with some that consumes nearly every waking moment.
It is incredible to watch the loss of senses that occurs when someone begins nonstop texting and “tweeting” on duty.
These officers are voluntarily climbing into their own coffins face down, leaving it to chance that some bad guy won’t show up to close the lid.
It’s one ambush they’ll never see coming.
Words from a Caring FTO
Consider me for a moment to be your grizzled old FTO who cares about you deeply.
I am putting my hand on your shoulder and looking straight into your eyes as I say to you, with great sincerity and concern, “You have to pay attention out there. Look up, look out, and get your head out of your apps!”
This article, originally published 07/23/2013, has been updated.
- Officer Safety