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2013 in Review: 5 observations on the past year

Two news events — the Dorner incident and the Boston Marathon bombing — and three things that came up during my own ongoing training stand out in my memory as having been particularly instructive


Three things — two in seminar settings, and one on the square range — that came up during my own ongoing training are among my handful of memories of 2013 highlighted in this space. At top, I meet and speak with Lieutenant Brian Murphy of the Oak Creek (Wis.) Police Department. At middle, I work on my rapid deployment carbine skills in a training near San Jose (Calif.). At bottom, I stand with my good friend, Bob Paudert, Chief of Police (Ret.) from West Memphis PD.

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The year 2013 is all but behind us, and 2014 is about to begin. Today, as I reflect on the last dozen months, a handful of issues and incidents stand out in my memory.

I’m thinking specifically about two news events — the Christopher Dorner attacks and the Boston Marathon bombing — and three things that came up during my own ongoing participation in law enforcement training.

There are many more items that merit mention in this space, but in the interest of brevity — and my own sanity — I’m going to limit myself to the following five things. Add your own thoughts about the year 2013 in the comments area below.

1.) The Dorner Incident
When news began to break that an ex-LAPD cop was hunting down police officers and their families on the streets of Southern California, it became abundantly clear that this thing was going to be important.

Less than a year before this event jumped off, I and my Police1 Columnists had started work on a series of articles on dealing with the prospect of having to draw down on a fellow officer.

I immediately knew that the spirit — if not the specifics — of our 2012 effort was in play, in stark relief, in 2013.

I realized, of course, that Dorner was no longer a cop (far from it!) when he went on his rampage, but I also knew that he didn’t turn in his training and experience when he turned in his badge. Further, it seems he also didn’t turn in his uniforms.

It wasn’t clear at the time, but during a debrief I recently attended in San Diego, there was discussion that Dorner may have committed his first two murders in uniform, replete with an imitation badge. This remains unconfirmed (and perhaps, forever unknown) but it does provoke thought.

Be ready for a fight with a well-trained and well-armed adversary. There are countless people out there — from Sovereign Citizens to cartel gangbangers — who would like nothing better than to take the life of a police officer.

They will think nothing of wearing a police uniform to get the drop on a cop.

They may have had police and/or military training — at the very least, they’ve probably participated in enough private training to make an encounter with them a very serious enterprise. Further, they carry carbines — do you have a body armor carrier into which you can quickly insert a rifle plate? Give that some thought.

2.) The Tourniquet Debate
Just before we broke for Monday lunch at the 10th annual ILEETA Conference in Wheeling, news of the Boston Marathon bombing began hitting attendees’ smartphones. I personally got five text messages almost simultaneously. I saved this one:

“2 IEDs in Boston. Carnage. Casualties. Lost legs and limbs. Improvised tourniquets everywhere.”

Joseph Blansfield, Boston Medical Center’s trauma program manager, said in the aftermath of the attack that “without a doubt, tourniquets were a difference-maker and saved lives.”

In my opinion, the Boston Marathon bombing put to rest any remaining “debate” on whether or not patrol officers should train to use tourniquets — and carry at least one while on duty.

A tourniquet in the trunk of your squad car isn’t likely to help you very much (unless you’re also in the trunk of your squad car).

A plastic flexi-cuff will do in a pinch, but having a quality, purpose-built piece of kit on your person — and having the training to use it properly — may one day save a life.

3.) Meeting Brian Murphy
Just days after the Boston Marathon bombing, I had the incredible good fortune to meet Lieutenant Brian Murphy, who was shot 17 times when he was the first officer responding to the rampage at the Sikh Temple in Oak Creek, Wisconsin.

If you want (or need) some inspiration about mindset, I encourage you to seek an audience with Lieutenant Murphy. During his ILEETA presentation, Murphy explained how he told himself: “I’m not going out like this. I’m not going out in a parking lot.”

He literally willed himself to remain alive.

He described how even when things were at their worst, he remained calm. He talked about the importance of his training: he kept doing his autogenic breathing en route to the hospital.

Murphy was shot 17 times and not only did he live to tell about it, he fought back to active duty. He ended his presentation with a picture of him getting into uniform. Beside the photo were the words: “Never Give Up.”

Speaking with Lieutenant Brian Murphy is something I will never forget.

In fact, I think about it almost every day.

4.) Square Range Lessons
I’m tremendously fortunate to have regular and recurring opportunities to do my firearms training with some of the top police instructors — and shooters — in the San Francisco Bay Area.

By the happenstance of how my availability lined up with range trainings, over the past year or so I’ve been putting more work in on carbine training than pistol. But by putting additional focus into my rifle work, I allowed my time with the pistol to slip below an ideal level.

During an exercise conducted by my friend Kyle Gentry — who was lead instructor in the absence of my friend Ken Hardesty — we were challenged to leave the rifles under the shelter behind us and work a pistol drill.

My handling and manipulations were fine — that stuff is about as automatic as tying my shoes — but my hits were not what they were only a few months prior. Shooting is a fungible skill, as I was reminded that day on the square range.

One other observation from that day of training: Don’t assume your rifle optics — which went into the gun safe perfectly and properly zeroed — will retain that zero. I run top-quality gear, but I must have knocked it or something, because as we began our day, I was barely even on paper from the 50-yard line.

Lessons learned.

5.) Humbled and Honored
I’m constantly cognizant of the impact Police1 has on law enforcement, but this fact was vividly illustrated for me as Chief Bob Paudert flipped to the final slide of his Sovereign Citizens presentation at the 2013 CATO Conference in November.

He paused, gazed about, and said, “Before I finish, I want to recognize one person in the room. Doug Wyllie, I know you’re here. Where are you?”

I raised my hand.

He said, “Stand up, so people here can see you.”

I stood.

“That’s Doug Wyllie, from PoliceOne” he said. “He’s a great friend to law enforcement.”

Standing there, looking out upon a room filled with roughly 1,000 Tier One SWAT cops from Washington, Oregon, Utah, Nevada, and California, I was humbled and honored to have been recognized so publicly by such a great an American as Chief Bob Paudert.

Sitting here, contemplating the positive impact Police1 will have for police officers in 2014 and beyond, I’m equally humbled and honored to serve you — my beloved Police1 Members — both on the website and behind the scenes.

Aside from loving and caring for my family, being skipper of the ship here at Police1 is the most important and amazing thing I’ve ever done.

To all my Police1 brothers and sisters, may you have a safe and successful 2014.

Doug Wyllie writes police training content on a wide range of topics and trends affecting the law enforcement community. Doug was a co-founder of the Policing Matters podcast and a longtime co-host of the program.