This isn’t preachy…I’m not your Mom or Dad and have made enough mistakes to not consider myself the end-all in tactics or infallible but I’m going to offer you some of the best advice you’ll ever get on officer safety. Listen. Just listen. As the saying goes, the Good Lord gave you two ears and one mouth so that you can listen two times as much as you speak.
That’s not to say that you shouldn’t ask questions if points need clarified or a topic or area of concern for you needs addressed. It just means that there exists around you tremendous experience and lessons to be learned, if you just may attention and listen to what is offered. Even if it turns out that bad advice or information was given, at least it caused you to examine the way you do things and hold them up to the light of day to see if they can sustain the close scrutiny.
I’ll give you a couple of examples:
A. You’re at the range and the instructor says, “You can possibly improve your shooting by working on your grip. I’ve noticed that your gun-hand thumb is curled downward which prevents your support hand from making full contact with the side of the pistol. Try this (and he demonstrates a proper grip).”
B. A veteran officer backs you up on a traffic stop and after you cite and release the driver he offers you this tactical tip, “Listen, why don’t you try approaching the passenger-side of the vehicle instead of walking up to the driver’s side. Depending on the environment you’re less at risk from other vehicles and suspects anticipate and plan for a driver’s side approach.”
Now you could circle your ego wagon on both bits of advice and refuse to consider that, you know what, that instructor just might know his business and might have my best interest at heart on the pistol range and you know what that old time copper might just have a point on that passenger side approach… Or you could just listen and try out their suggestions.
As an instructor in these dangerous times when violence against law enforcement just reached a ten year high in 2011 that, we: read, study, and attempt to find out the best material we can to help keep officers alive and instruct that material to the troops and they just don’t listen.