Today we honor four of the Oakland Police Department’s finest Warriors. It goes without saying that these brave men are not just Oakland’s finest but are representative of Law Enforcement across the United States. These Warriors conducted themselves as professional policemen even in the face of mounting resistance from groups of anti-police radicals that have tormented the Oakland Police in the recent past. These Warriors hit the streets every day willing to keep the citizens of their city safe from criminal enterprise. They did this at the expense of their own lives.
The San Francisco Chronicle reported that late afternoon Saturday, a group of about 50 people lined 73rd Avenue, a block from where Dunakin and Hege were shot. Some shouted obscenities at police. Others said the officers' deaths were retribution for the fatal shooting of Oscar Grant, the unarmed Hayward man killed by a BART Police Officer on an Oakland train platform New Year's Day. Shouts of, "They had it coming!" were heard in the crowd.
I would like the Officers of the Oakland Police department to know that during this time of grief and uncertainty that we are all OPD!
We see short glimpse's of the story on the network news and big city newspapers but certainly not the same amount of coverage that it deserves. Don’t let the lack of support in the media and insults hurled by small groups of radical citizens fool your heart into believing that you are going this alone. The Warriors that patrol every street in this nation grieve with you now. Every SWAT cop that dons his call out gear to bring a conclusion to violent situations grieves with you.
Today, we are all OPD!
I would like to remind all of you Patrol Officers, Traffic Officers, and SWAT Cops of the importance of being a well prepared warrior. A well prepared warrior anticipates that every time he is in contact with another person—whether it’s a traffic stop or a larceny report—he may have to engage the “Warrior Spirit” without a moments notice to survive an encounter that may take his life.
How do we capture that spirit? First, you must always approach every call as if your about to encounter a deadly force situation, no matter what the radio call is. It is most important however, to treat every citizen, victim, suspect, and witness in a professional manner. Treat them the way you would want to be treated if you were that person, but if the situation goes south, engaging the “Warrior Spirit” needs to be automatic. Your focus must teeter on that fine edge with every citizen encounter as if you’re preparing for a SWAT operation. Your focus needs to be clear and you must have the ability to switch to a fighting mode in a fraction of a second without any hesitation. You must always assume that every citizen contact can become a deadly force encounter and if it does you won’t accept failure.
In 1725 a Mohican Chief named “Aupumut” told his warriors:
“When it comes time to die, be not like those whose hearts are filled with the fear of death, so when their time comes they weep and pray for a little more time to live their lives over again in a different way. Sing your death song, and die like a hero going home.”
Chief Aupumut obviously recognized that his warriors’ mindset was the first step in the overall preparation of their development.
The “Warrior Spirit” is a combination of confidence, concentration, and tenacity. Those qualities are worthless without the physical skill and ability to complete the task but so, too, are the physical abilities without the proper mindset.
Here are a few tips to help develop the “Warrior Spirit”:
• Be “aware” all the time and “anticipate” a threat
• Train like you fight
• Never quit
• Build confidence through training and fitness
• Fight chaos with chaos. Use speed, surprise, and violence of action
• Create the mindset that killing a homicidal adversary is an acceptable action
Here is a training principle that I like to use when training SWAT officers:
“Training should be designed to be uncomfortable, physically and mentally, it should take officers to stressful dark places where they have never gone before, under a controlled environment, so that if they are ever taken there by an adversary it won’t be their first time.”
An officer’s ability to react under duress, pain, and seemingly insurmountable odds remains the hallmark of the “Warrior Spirit.” Tenacity against an adversary must be trained, expected, and demanded from our officers.
This past weekend the officers of the Oakland Police Department fought like “Warriors.”
Today their “Warrior Spirit” lives in all of us.
Today, we are all OPD.