Proper Police Action Requires...What?

"No man has a chance to enjoy permanent success until he begins to look in the mirror for the real cause of all his mistakes" ~Napoleon Hill

I found an old "Street Survival" Personal Resource Guide I had gotten from a seminar they put on here in Massachusetts back in 1997. They were back here again in June up in Marlboro but i missed the opportunity to attend. My point in mentioning this is simple "If you get the opportunity to attend the Street Survival Seminar, do so. The two I have attended have been outstanding and always left me thinking about how to better myself and better prepare those I work with for the challenges law enforcement faces. The thing I admired most about these seminars is that they always seemed to focus on the mental and moral aspects of policing as well as the physical. They understood that what we do is not a game that requires merely brute force but instead that law enforcement, peacekeeping, requires the mental mindset and ability to make sound decisions as well. They always stressed that "proper police action requires a balance between safety and efficiency (I would add EFFECTIVENESS), with a primary emphasis on safety. Proper action requires that you: remain alert, have a plan, a practiced response with options, in mind and, that you be decisive. You want to avoid over-reaction as well as under-reaction.

The Street Survival Personal Resource Guide described over-reaction as:

  • Taking more action than necessary
  • Over-extending beyond your capabilities
  • Rushing up on dangerous situations or individuals
  • Rushing into threat location
  • Acting on impulse
  • Defending your EGO or the pride of your agency
  • The paradox to over-reaction in under-reaction which they described as:

  • Not taking enough action
  • Permitting "immunity zone" thinking "it can't happen here"
  • Under-estimating your adversary
  • Exhibiting carelessness
  • Giving into to complacency
  • Refusing to make decisions
  • Police action requires that your physical abilities and skills be effective BUT you must also have the mental capacity to calm yourself under pressure and think on your feet. This will allow you to adapt, and make an effective change to an altered situation and position yourself where you cannot lose. This means exploring every situation to its fullest and recognizing the signs and signals of danger as well, as, the signs and signals of voulantary compliance, without relaxing your awareness or becoming complacent. Not always an easy task in real time dynamic situations although a very important ability to possess.

    You must, as well, consider reasonable and legal tactical options to control the situation. This includes your tactical response and approach, your social skills and ability to communicate, negotiate, manipulate and even deception in an effort to gain the outcome you seek. This also includes reasonable force options that take into consideration, the purpose of any level of force, which is control. AND the always important understanding that there are tactical options, that there is no one scientific solution to a tactical problem. If a tactic or technique is not working and you cannot control the subject or the circumstances you can always disengage and then redeploy when circumstances are more favorable.

    Strength of character, strong tactics (mental and physical) and controlled emotions lead to a proper, effective and safe police action. As I write this post i cannot help but think about this advice and that there is nothing new here. This "Street Survival" Resource is 15 years old and the same principles were taught in the 1989 class I also attended and they continue to be taught today! Which begs me to ask the question: Why aren't we applying these ideas more consistently? Why are we not consistently walking our talk?

    The job of a peacekeeper is tough but we must understand that winning is about much more than the gun you carry, the equipment you use and your ability to fight. It is more about your mental abilities and capacity to innovate and decide. As Yogi Berra said; "90% of this game is half mental" so remember to be flexible, when according with an adversary and use everything in your tactical toolbox to achieve a safe and effective outcome on the street. Please adjust your thinking to that which reinforce sound strategic, tactical and survival principles you already know but may need re-motivation to use consistently.

    "Render more service than that for which you are paid and you will soon be paid for more than you render. The law of increasing returns takes care of this." ~Napoleon Hill

    Stay Oriented!

    Fred