28 Nov 2016
November 28, 2016

Officer Survival in 2017

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According to several sources, there have been 61 shooting deaths of law enforcement officers as of November 27, 2016. And while the FBI statistics on assaults for 2016 have not been released yet, the 2015 report indicates 50,212 officers were assaulted while performing their duties. Out of those 28.4% (or 14,260) were injured.


What do we do in 2017 to better our odds? There are many ideas and suggestions out there, here are mine.

Increased and improved training

     Mental Mindset:

Many, not all, of us have become complacent. It’s the same ole, same ole day in, day out. What do you do to “switch on” when you go to work? I suggest spending just a couple moments before each shift to mentally prepare yourself not only for what you may have to do that day, but why you must do it. What is your “survival trigger?” A great question to ask yourself is “What is the thing, person, place or entity that will keep me in the fight to win it?” Think about those things while suiting up. Think about your brothers you may be working with and how important it is to you that they go home safe as well. To quote the character Dienekes in the Steven Pressfield novel “Gates of Fire” – “The opposite of fear, is love”. Anyone can conquer fear when they love something more than they fear anything else.

     Learn from history:


Many officers were assaulted, and killed, this year while in their vehicle. How often do you practice your draw while seated in a vehicle? Do you need to get your seatbelt off first? Is it cumbersome to draw from your hip while in the vehicle? Is the vehicle set up advantageously for an efficient draw? Do you need to address management to seek a better holster system to increase officer safety?
Some officers were attacked while subduing another subject. Do you train to deal with multiple subjects? How often? Is it enough or do you need to up the ante?
Several attacks this year were also with edged or handheld weapons. Are you prepared for this type of attack? Do you train on how to “buy time” to get to your weapon? How often are you challenging yourself on close quarter’s defensive tactics?
I encourage every department to “whitewash” or do an after action review of use of force incidents at least once a month. This is not the management after action that may take place, but rather a panel strategically comprised of defensive tactics instructors. These instructors can adequately address questions like: “What’s working? What’s not? How do we improve our tactics? Where did these assaults take place? Were they close quarter or in a wide open area? Do we need to address use of force reasonableness”? I think management would be hard pressed to turn such a request down when officer safety is the primary goal.

Equipment modifications or alternatives

Earlier I addressed possible equipment modifications such as holsters which offer better access while in a vehicle. I would also add reviewing the carriage of issued equipment, reviewing/changing vehicle setup, researching and considering adding ballistic foam or other ballistic shielding to vehicle doors, and the list goes on…

Strength in numbers

Don’t go it alone if you don’t have to! I know this seems obvious but many of us are hardwired that we can do anything ourselves. I also know that this suggestion is also dependent upon manning, size of the shift, management protocol etc. All I ask is that when there is a chance for someone else to come along or respond with you…..take it!

Lastly, This is becoming a deadlier job that we all knew it would be when we signed up. You are the gatekeepers and heroes many people wish they could be. Make no mistake, it takes a very special person to strap on a weapon and wade into the depths of evil and criminal elements that seem to be growing by the minute. I applaud and respect you all!!

Joe Bezotte is the CEO and Lead Instructor for Core Security Consulting LLC. Joe currently trains corporate and private security teams, executive protection teams, military and law enforcement units.