10 reasons why American police officers are warriors

Many outside law enforcement — and a few within the profession — believe the term "warrior" should be eliminated from police training

Are police officers warriors, or guardians? No doubt police officers are true guardians, but is it proper for police trainers to refer to them as warriors and develop in them a warrior’s mindset?

Many outside law enforcement — and a few within the profession — believe the term "warrior" should be eliminated from police training. 

As a retired police officer in my 40th year as a police trainer I would like to engage in a nonpolitical, factual discussion of this issue and give you my educated answer to this question.

The Birth of the "Police Warrior"
The use of the term "warrior," evolved gradually in police training, because police officers were being killed in the line of duty in the '60s and '70s in startling numbers. In the midst of these killings a watershed event for police trainers occurred. That was the killing of four California High Patrol Officers in a restaurant parking lot in Newhall, California on April 6, 1970. This was a defining moment for the police survival movement.

Also during this period, the term "war" was inserted into police efforts — not by the police, but by politicians. Rampant crime in the '60s caused the creation of the National Crime Commission in the late '60s. The Crime Commission’s efforts and recommendations eventually caused the term "War on Crime" to creep into the public conversation.

Additionally the term "War on Drugs," was coined by President Nixon in 1971.

The recognition that police officers were combatants in these "wars," coupled with the need for police officers to be in possession of not only survival skills, but a survival attitude eventually led to the widespread use of the term "warriors," by police trainers in the '70s and '80s.

Ten Reasons Police Officers are Warriors
Whether, or not the term "War on Drugs," is accurate is certainly debatable. 

However, here are 10 reasons police trainers need to continue to develop attributes, skills and attitudes of a warrior in every police officer they train: 

1. September 11, 2001: Coordinated attacks in New York, Washington, D.C. and Pennsylvania killed 2,996. These attacks destroyed the World Trade Center, damaged the Pentagon and caused Flight 93 to disintegrate as it was intentionally flown into the ground, while its passengers courageously attempted to wrest control of the plane away from terrorists. Sixty police officers gave their lives on that day, trying to save others.

2. November 5, 2009: Thirteen disarmed American soldiers were killed and 32 were wounded in an attack at their home base inside Fort Hood. Two civilian police officers responded, and immediately engaged the shooter in a gunfight that ended the carnage. One of those officers was seriously wounded.

3. April 15, 2013: Three Americans were killed and 264 were maimed by two pressure-cooker-bombs at the finish line of the Boston Marathon. After the two terrorist-bombers discovered they were being pursued they killed one police officer and eventually became heavily engaged in a gunbattle with other officers. Another officer was seriously wounded in this engagement. One terrorist was killed in the fight, while the other fled. This killer was eventually hunted down and found hiding inside a parked boat. He was captured by police.

4. May 2015: Two heavily armed terrorists were stopped by Garland, Texas police officers as they launched an attack on a convention of cartoonists. These would-be killers were immediately engaged in a firefight by the lone officer and were both killed. No one else was injured.

5. July 16, 2015: Four Marines were killed, and a Navy Recruiter and a police officer were wounded in an armed drive-by terrorist attack in Chattanooga, Tennessee. The shooter became involved in a gunbattle with local police and was eventually killed.

6. September 2, 2015: Fourteen people were killed and 22 wounded by a terrorist husband and wife team in San Bernardino, California. Police officers located the shooters, pursued them and eventually engaged them in a 5 minute gun battle. Both terrorists were killed by the officers.

7. April 5, 2016: A man screaming “Allahu Akbar!” as he attacked a Jewish man is arrested by New York City Police, who were on the scene immediately.

8. June 12, 2016: In a heavily armed attack inside an Orlando, Florida nightclub, 49 people were killed and 53 were wounded. Police officers were heavily engaged in this incident from beginning to end saving many. The terrorist was killed in a gunbattle with police.

9. Local and Federal police officers, thwart and continue to stop impending terrorist attacks across the country through ongoing investigations and interdiction stops.

10. Police officers are intervening as first responders in terrorist attacks all over the world in places like Paris, Brussels, Beslan, Istanbul, London, Mumbai, and engaging in mortal combat with heavily armed radical Jihadist terrorists, attacking defenseless civilian targets. 

Many in this nation fail to recognize that believers in a radical Islamic-jihadist ideology are waging a brutal world-wide-war against civilization. This nation is at war, whether one chooses to admit it, or not. The front lines are not just in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Syria. This is a new kind of war where Americans, dancing in a club, attending a conference, running in a marathon, or sitting at a restaurant can, in an instant, be violently thrust into the front lines.

When this happens Seal Team Six and the 101st Airborne Division would be very willing — yet unable — to intervene in a timely manner. The warriors who will be thrust into the fight to do battle with this insidious enemy will be police officers.

So, are police officers guardians, or warriors?

My answer to this question is unequivocally, "Yes!"

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