As 2013 draws to a close, we can be thankful that we are looking at a marked reduction in officer fatalities. We mourn those lost and remember those who were injured in our wonderful and dangerous profession. It is in remembering those dangers and constantly balancing the odds in our favor that we can continue this positive trend into the future.
Back in January 2011, PoliceOne Editor in Chief Doug Wyllie asked me to write an article about the terrible start of the year we were having in terms of LEO deaths and injuries.
That article, “Entering 2011 in a ‘Conspiracy of Safety’,” started a grassroots response from dispatchers to chiefs and sheriffs; signs and postings started popping up all over, saying “Not Today.” This was just one link in the chain of officer safety that has led to a remarkable reduction of officer deaths and injury, even with violent crime on the rise.
PoliceOne has been a huge supporter of the “Not Today” philosophy along with other initiates, not the least of which has been its full-court press of positive officer safety articles and videos in its content, and an editorial staff that takes getting crime-fighters home safe and sound as a personal mission.
As part of PoliceOne’s 2013 end-of-year collection, Doug recently asked me to comment about the “Not Today” conspiracy as we wrap up its third year.
The best commentary would not be mine, but the comments of the active crime-fighters out there who live day to day with constant risks and have applied it to their lives. I recently asked members of our “JD Buck Savage” Facebook fan page what “Not Today” means to them. Here are just a few of the hundreds of responses that were posted.
What ‘Not Today’ Means to You
“From the safety of retirement, I can say during my career there were some things that I took to heart: Always wear your vest! Remember the seven Ps (Proper Prior Practice Prevents Piss-Poor Performance) and Always cheat, always win! There are no ‘fair’ fights in law enforcement; it’s not a boxing match. Go home safely!”
“Dave, AZDPS Officer Seth Meeske was shot four times just south of Payson in September during a nighttime traffic stop. The vehicle immediately sped away. Although he couldn’t return fire, he kept his composure, called in the vehicle description, drove himself three miles to the hospital with an arterial wound in his left forearm, a bullet wound through his right thigh, and glass shards in his eyes, face and mouth prompting him to think he was also shot in the face. All the while his overriding concern was for his partner, who was on his first day as a solo officer, who found and pursued the vehicle. In my 28 years with the department, I’d say that this hero had a ‘Not Today’ mindset.”
“What everyone has written, including you Dave, I absolutely agree with. But ‘Not Today’ can also mean Not forgetting to wear your vest, wear your seatbelt, watch your speed ... and not being complacent.”
“I was involved in an on-duty fatal shooting three months before my 23rd birthday and three months before being on the job for two years. I would not give up, used proper tactical techniques, learned from my mistakes, and went home after my shifts.”
“It means I recognize that while some things may be beyond my control, my responsibility to respond and continue the fight is something I not only can control, but have an obligation to. A simple reminder of the mindset required so I can fulfill my duty to go home at the end of my shift.”
“‘Not Today’ to me, as a dispatcher, means that I have successfully brought my officers back to the station at the end of their shift. Doing so is not only my job, but it is a privilege to be able to do so and proudly say so.”
“It means the day will come when the good lord calls me home ... but not today. I’m not done here.”
“It means to me that even though I didn’t get attacked or face a life-and-death situation, I didn’t allow anyone the OPPORTUNITY to get the better of me that day, so every day for me is a ‘Not Today’ moment!”
“‘Not Today’ means that I will deploy all of my skills in a measured, skillful fashion, aware that even though I will be criticized, maligned, and probably sued, I will prevail in any incident where the public safety or my life are threatened.”
“I and my partners will all go home at the end of this shift. Anything less is unacceptable! I will also always remain vigilant and aware so that I am not caught off guard. But really, Dave, you’ve said it best: ‘Not on this call, not on this shift, I WILL NOT be caught unaware!’”
“I will not drop my guard. I will not yield to complacency. I will not be a statistic. I will not allow my vigilance to dull. I will not leave my survival to chance. I will not widow my loved ones. I will not rest under a flag. Not Today.”
“’Not today’ is not just about me. It is a contract I sign with my family every day I go to work that I will win. I may return to the Lord today, but it won’t be because I lost the fight. It is a promise to the people I serve that if I have anything to say about it, evil won’t touch you today.”
“The Prime Directive: Everyone in my command goes home alive at the end of the shift.”
“Evil will come for me ... And I will make it sorry when it finds me!”
“It means that every single one of my 1,300 officers that drove themselves to work gets to drive themselves home, and that’s the way it’s been for the last 34 years.”
I could list more than a hundred great thoughts I received, but chose the above as representation of the mindset that people have about “Not Today.” I want to end with a very good thought from one of our brothers. Thanks to all of you who contributed ideas!
“’Not Today’ is an everyday way of life. It’s the love for our people. It’s our reason for living. Not Today is caring for not only our partners, brothers, and sisters, but everyone. It’s the compassion for a victim and the strength for a lost one. It’s the comforting blanket of peace and order. It’s the laughs of our children and the hugs and kisses of family. It’s the feeling that most people have that they don’t have to stop to think, Are my kids OK in their room tonight or safe at school today. All because when we take the oath and every day we put on the uniform it’s a silent Not Today. So at each call we go to we always think as we show ourselves en route we say NOT TODAY! Be safe everyone!”