As LEOs (law enforcement officers), our biggest enemy is not the criminal, but our own carelessness. With the exception of a deliberate ambush, there are few situations where LEOs have been killed that probably couldn’t have been prevented by alertness, proper tactics and training. While the numbers of mistakes we make daily are endless, there are a certain recurring few that turn up in a large volume of tragic cases.
Sin #1: Failure to Maintain Skills
Unfortunately most cops aren’t “gun” people. A great number train two or three times annually when they’re dragged kicking and screaming to the range for mandatory qualifications. Gun battles are quick, dynamic, up close and usually in low-light conditions. Under stress, we default to our level of training. Our skill level and maintenance of our equipment are two of those factors. This means taking the time to train on our own.
Who among us would want to die because of an improperly maintained weapon, which is a totally avoidable situation? Even among those who take our weapons and train seriously, many fail to care for more commonplace items such as handcuffs, Tasers, or vehicles. And ironically, we’re far more likely to use these tools.
Sin #2: Improper Handcuff Use
The most dangerous weapons are those we fail to see. Missing a weapon on a search has more than just the potential to be fatal; it can put the armed suspect in closer proximity to us even with our backs to them… such as a suspect in the back seat of your patrol car. Worse yet, we may find ourselves unarmed in a jail or booking situation.
Cuffing should be systematic and thorough, and include a methodical search. Check the tightness of cuffs, always double-lock them with keyholes up, and keep cuffs well maintained and lubed. Never assume since a suspect is cuffed, they’re not a threat.