When Officer Safety Comes Second
There are bad people in this world.
You wouldn’t have signed up to do this job if it weren’t so. You would not wear a shield or star of tin upon your breast if it weren’t so.
You would not wear body armor and a gun, or carry a heavy vest, helmet, and rifle on patrol if it weren’t so.
One of things drilled into all of us at every Police Academy across the country is, “Officer Safety First.”
For generations of baby cops, this mantra led to a street survival attitude, that has helped to keep them safe and frame their actions when responding to the call. This has been a good thing.
Officer safety IS most important – going home at the end of each shift to your family IS most important – until it isn’t.
A School Resource Officer in Parkland, Florida failed to act last week. He was on scene, armed, on duty, and within hearing distance of the gunfire. And he did not engage. He did not enter and do battle with the assailant.
If the Deputy had entered those blood soaked hallways and counterattacked, he may have lost his life. He may have been grievously wounded, or paralyzed. He may have been incapable of completing the mission of stopping the threat – due to the tactical situation that sometimes includes real life limits on what one can accomplish.
But he also may have been successful. Most shooters are not mentally prepared to engage in a gunfight with a first responder – they are wolves slaughtering the innocent, not ready for a sheepdog to protect the flock; and as such they either flee or commit suicide once bullets come flying in their own direction.
Either way, the killing stops. The shooter is suppressed into a more contained area, they self-select the “appeal to a higher court” option with a bullet to their own brain pan, they surrender, they flee.
Or, you engage in a gun battle with the shooter and they kill you.
Or you kill them.
That is the job. That is the stakes we play for. That is WHY the Thin Blue Line is a culture of warriors.
The cold calculus of a mass shooting always equals out to someone dying. Our job is to limit the loss of life, even if that means we lose our own.
If that isn’t something you’re prepared to do as an Officer, Deputy or Trooper – then I thank you for your service, and please find another career – because when the emergency tone sounds, bullets are flying and the innocent are falling – if you don’t already know what you’d do, this is the wrong career for you, friend.
The Deputy that did not enter and engage, failing to act to protect the children he swore to defend as a School Resource Officer, is no longer a Deputy at all. He has resigned in disgrace, as he should have, as he is unfit to wear a badge.
When the next ticking time bomb of humanity arms themselves with their weapons of choice and goes on a rampage, the first responder to that scene will be one of our brethren.
And those officers, on that call, HAVE to know that sometimes officer safety comes second, and react as needed to stop the threat.
They will have gone to work like it was any other ordinary shift – and have unexpectedly responded to the call which shall define their career – be they a 1 year rookie officer or a 30 year veteran.
Did they practice at the range recently? Is their weapon oiled? Are they in shape and ready to run? Are they right with God and in their family?
It might be you, and it might be tomorrow – or even later today.
Train hard. Stay motivated. Protect the innocent.
When Officer Safety Comes Second, it may be your life at stake as a cost to save others.
That’s the job.
Are you ready?
Dan Cincinnatus | P2 Concepts Writer/Instructor
Photo Credit, Cristobal Herrera