2010 in Review: 25 foundational principles
An accumulation of time-tested tips, tidbits, and lessons learned from the unique vantage point of the PoliceOne Editor’s Corner
Assignment: Write about the top law enforcement trends, as I see them, in 2010. Gads, where do I even start? Continued ambush attacks on our law enforcers in places like Hoonah, Alaska and McKinney, Texas. Gotta be on the list, right? Thwarted terrorist attacks in places like Portland, Oregon and Chicago, Illinois? Surely those have to be on the list, no? Battles waged — in courts and voting booths — over drug legalization and amnesty for illegal immigrants. A must for any 2010 list, correct? Hiring freezes, pay cuts, mass layoffs, and whole departments shuttering their doors. Doubtlessly these have to be covered in this space, yeah? New police automobiles like the Dodge Charger Pursuit, the Ford Interceptor, and the Chevrolet Caprice. Certainly can’t neglect those, can I?
Yep, I can and I will. Regardless of the specifics of those — and myriad other — watershed events this year, the most significant single issue is that we saw a nearly 40 percent rise in line-of-duty deaths in law enforcement in 2010. Nothing could be more important. As of this writing, 162 American law enforcers were killed in the line of duty this year, up from 117 in 2009. Ten more officers died by gunfire in 2010 — 59, up from 49 in 2009. Eighteen more died as a result of vehicle incidents — 73, up from 51 last year. Five more died of heart attack — 14, up from nine last year.
This is the current count at the hour I post this item to PoliceOne, with a full two days remaining in the year. I can only pray those numbers don’t go up before the ball above Times Square is lowered and the voices below are raised.
While writing a column that supposes some sort of “closure” on the events of the past 12 months might make everyone feel a little bit better about entering 2011 — or more accurately, about putting 2010 behind us — that’s not my job. I’m supposed to be a conduit of information that makes officers safer and more successful on the streets. So, that’s what I aim to do. Now, while every last line of what follows is something you’ve heard before, the calendar’s annual inflection point is also a natural moment of reflection — a time when people engage in repetition of hymns, mantras, promises, prayers, and resolutions.
Please be advised: This list is anything but complete. In fact, in order to even make it manageable I’ve pulled several fairly obvious — if somewhat redundant — tips out of it. Further, the list is in no preferential order. I’ve purposefully jumbled these foundational principles such that there’s no one item that may be perceived as more — or less — important than any other. Finally, this list is not one of my own creation. Every last tidbit and tactical tip has already appeared on PoliceOne as a member comment or columnist contribution at one time or another during 2010. They all have been presented as a direct — or indirect — thought stemming from the most important individual events of the past 12 months. I’ve merely re-phrased those life-saving, life-affirming lessons into a series of proclamations you can use as your internal self-talk, whether on patrol or off duty with your family and friends.
Here we go...
I fully acknowledge that this is basic, ordinary stuff — it is well-worn stuff — that to some may come off as merely a series of positive-minded platitudes. That’s a legit opinion, but I’d dispute it. To me, these are lessons learned from a year of reading, writing, editing, and posting hundreds of tips and columns to PoliceOne. They’re an accumulation of concepts shared in thousands of email, phone, and personal conversations I’ve had the good fortune to have with law enforcers across this great country in the past calendar year. Yeah, you’ve heard it all before, but this stuff is timeless for a reason — it remains as valid today as it was the day it was first spoken.
So, as I tie up this, my final column of 2010, I want to simply say that the above sentiments go out to every law enforcer who protects and serves — every warrior who keeps our country and our communities safe. It’s my honor to serve with you in the capacity I do. You are in my thoughts and prayers, always. Here’s to a safe and successful 2011.
— PoliceOne Senior Editor Doug Wyllie
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