By Greg Meyer
My golf pro often mentions the “anyways.” As in, “Don’t do’em.”
An “anyway” is when, during your set-up or your swing-through — or while beginning your backswing — you know something’s not right. Something’s distracting you.
Maybe it’s a noise. Maybe it’s a leaf on the ground near your ball. Maybe it’s a thought that jumps into your head. Maybe you just know your set-up isn’t right.
BUT . . . you go ahead and hit the ball “anyway.” It’s a lousy shot. And you tell yourself, “I knew I should have backed out of that!”
The trick is to count how many “anyways” you had during your round, then eliminate them next time.
In police work, we have our share of “anyways.” And some of them have tragic results.
One night long ago (think “bell bottoms” and “disco”), I was working with a partner in a particularly tough part of town. The two of us made an investigative stop of a car with two guys in it. We drew our handguns (only had six-shooters in those bad old days) and held them low-profile by our legs. We ordered the guys out, told them to assume the position, all the usual stuff. They complied.
My partner and I already knew from the beginning of the shift that on this particular night, he would do the searching, and I would do the guarding. (If you have a partner, you DO plan that stuff, don’t you?)
So I kept my cover behind the passenger door, and my eyes on the suspects.
And then I got a big surprise.
My partner walked up to the suspects, entered my field of vision, and started searching them with one hand, while holding his gun in another. Big tactical no-no. If these two guys were bad enough and so inclined, they could have turned on my partner and quickly disarmed him. Then I’d be facing an armed suspect with my partner in the line of fire . . . my fire and the fire from his own gun.
This was not a good moment. But I sure learned from it.
We were lucky. The rest of the encounter went smoothly. No tragic result here. We sent these fellows on their way.
In the car, my partner was pretty vocal and upset with himself. “I can’t believe I did that! I knew when I walked up to them that I should have put my gun away, and I walked up anyway! Dumb! Dumb! Dumb!”
We all know stories of tragedy that result from tactical “anyways.” Pierce R. Brooks’ classic book, Officer down—Code 3, listed the ten deadly sins in 1976, and they are timeless (you can still get the book at amazon.com):
Lack of concentration. Tombstone courage. Not enough rest. Taking a bad position. Not heeding the danger signs. Failure to watch the hands. Relaxing too soon. Improper handcuffing. No search or poor search. Dirty or inoperative equipment.
“I’m by myself, but I’ll move on this guy before my back-up gets here anyway.”
“I didn’t really thoroughly search this guy before I put him in my backseat, but he looks like a decent guy so I’ll just drive him to the station anyway.”
“This radio battery seems weak, but it’s just a few more hours in the shift, so I’ll keep using it anyway.”
“I know I’m off duty, my gun’s in my glove compartment, but I’m in a hurry, so I’ll go into this bank unarmed anyway.”
Brooks didn’t mention safe-driving issues in his wonderful book. But I read an article today that detailed the deaths of 16 officers who lost their lives in the line of duty during a two-month period earlier this year. Here is how they died:
Crash. Crash. Crash. Shot. Crash. Heart attack. Shot. Shot. Shot. Crash. Crash. Shot. Shot. Crash. Crash. Crash.
In other words, slightly more than half died in traffic collisions, which is consistent with law enforcement history. Check out the stories behind the names on “the wall.”
“I’m driving over my personal limits here, but I’ve gotta get to this back-up call, so I’ll keep pushing it anyway.”
“This traffic’s whizzing by me pretty fast, but I’ll be out of here soon, so I’ll just keep standing here anyway.”
“Of course I don’t wear my seatbelt, I need to be ready for action, so I’ll keep driving without it anyway.”
Whether it’s shootings or crashes, we’ve buried too many folks, folks.
So I say, let’s do away with the anyways. Take note when you do an anyway. Get a little mad at yourself.
Then make yourself a promise.
And do it a little better and a little safer next time!
Anyways, I hope you do.