Recently I was speaking with Aaron Tomlinson, a police trainer at Fox Valley Technical College in Appleton, Wisconsin. He gave me permission to share with you an analogy he uses to prepare his recruits to stay alert on the contacts they will make in their future career.
To paraphrase, Aaron tells them that the day-to-day contacts an officer makes on the street are much like the game of Bingo.
Each number called out is like a call for service answered, leading them toward “bingo” — the inevitable confrontation that lies ahead.
Poised Like a Panther
He asks students if they have ever watched a 78 year old lady play Bingo. While fully engaged she sits on the edge of her chair poised like a panther ready to strike. As each number is called her eyes squint as they thoroughly scan each card she holds so as not to miss a number, attempting to stay one step ahead of her opponents.
This gray-haired granny knows that if she gets lackadaisical, zones out, or just plain snoozes she loses. She stays alert, and pays attention because the next number called might be a “Bingo!”
No matter how proficient in professionally communicating with members of the public an officer becomes, the next physical confrontation lies irrevocably in the future for every police officer as “Bingo” is in every game of Bingo.
Ask yourself, “Am I bingo-ready throughout every contact? Am I at least as alert as a 78-year-old Grandma playing ‘Bingo’?”
You should be — your life depends on it.
Remember, confrontation for you is as inevitable on the street as “bingo” in the game of that same name. Unlike Bingo it is not a game that you are playing. Like Bingo, however there is no second place on the street.
You have to be — at all times — bingo-ready.
Got the message?