Thursday, August 02, 2007

Fatal Errors

by Joyce Tremel

I found the following posted in our squad room.


1. Your Attitude - If you fail to keep your mind on the job while on patrol, or if you carry problems with you into the field, you will start to make errors. It can cost you or other fellow officers their lives.

2. Tombstone Courage - No one doubts that you are brave, but in any situation where time allows, wait for backup. You should not try to make a dangerous apprehension alone and unaided.

3. Not Enough Rest - To do your job, you must be alert. Being sleepy or asleep on the job is not only against regulations, but you endanger yourself, the community and all of your fellow officers.

4. Taking a Bad Position - Never let anyone you are questioning or about to stop get in a better position than you and your vehicle. There is no such thing as a routine call or stop.

5. Danger Signs - You will come to recognize "danger signs"--movements, strange cars, warnings that should alert you to watch your step and approach with caution. Know your beat, your community, and watch for anything that is out of place.

6. Failure To Watch The Hands Of a Suspect - Is he or she reaching for a weapon or getting ready to strike you? How else can a potential killer strike but with his or her hands?

7. Relaxing Too Soon - The "rut" of false alarms. Observe the activity, never take any call as routine or just another false alarm. It's your life on the line.

8. Improper Use or No Handcuffs - Once you have made an arrest, handcuff the prisoner properly.

9. No Search or Poor Search - There are so many places a suspect can hide weapons that your failure to search is a crime against fellow officers. Many criminals carry several weapons and are able and prepared to use them against you.

10. Dirty or Inoperative Weapon - Is your firearm clean? Will it fire? How about ammunition? When did you fire your weapon last so that you know if you can hit a target in combat conditions? What't the sense of carrying any firearm that may not work?

(The above was published by the National Association of Chiefs of Police.)

Most of this seems like common sense to me, but just like any other job, after you do it awhile, you get complacent. In most other jobs though, you're not likely to end up in the morgue.


Tory said...

Wow, I was thinking of how much of this translates into non-police jobs. "Fatal errors" in this instance wouldn't mean actually dying for your job, but "fatal" in the sense of giving up on it and not being able complete your tasks effectively.

ramona said...

Very interesting, Joyce.
When I first started trying to work by computer (as opposed to stylus and papyrus, it was so long ago!), I used to get "you have committed a fatal error" messages all the time. Used to scare me, but it was overkill. All that would happen would be, the computer would restart. Too bad that can't happen in this instance.

Nancy said...

Joyce, I want to know more about taking positions, good and bad. Maybe another blog?

Anonymous said...

Interesting, Joyce!

I also would like to know more about "positions."

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Marta Stephens said...

These are great! Thanks so much for sharing.

Joyce said...

Nancy & Kristine--I'll try to cover taking positions in another blog or maybe some handouts at a meeting. Police officers position their cars in a certain way when they make traffic stops. It's too hard to describe-you'd have to see a diagram or picture.

This is when the Police Academy for Writers would come in handy. You could learn all this stuff!

Lee Lofland said...

Hi guys. I'm on the road today enroute to Portland (I'm in the Phoenix airport right now) to speak for the Willamette Writers Conference.

Joyce is a mind-reader. I was a master instructor for officer safety and defensive tactics in the police academy. I also certified other instructors. One of my presentations this weekend covers officer safety, which includes the proper positioning of police vehicles during traffic stops, how to use various parts of a car for cover (which parts, such as tires, engine, "A" post, etc.).

I'm also going into how officers should stand while handcuffing a suspect as well as how they should stand under normal conditions.

It's a pretty interesting presentation (I hope so, anyway).

Gee, I hate to keep plugging my book, but a lot of this information is in it. :)

Lee Lofland said...

Oh, I agree with Joyce, a police academy for writers would be really cool.

I'll check in later tonight after I've settled in my room. As usual, great topic, Joyce.

Joyce said...

I was wondering where you were today, Lee.

Have fun at the conference!