Tips for doing paperwork in your squad
We were deeply saddened to learn of the recent loss of a Canadian brother. Our heartfelt condolences go out to his family, friends and his fellow officers. We extend our gratitude to the four paramedics who had the courage to, at great risk to themselves, immediately jump to action in an effort to try and help Constable Czapnik. Their bravery is admirable and reflective of the kind of dedication and selflessness demonstrated by the best of the best in the broad family of “first responders.”
Although we have not had an opportunity to confirm the exact details of this tragic incident beyond news reports, we felt it important to share a few general officer safety reminders relative to the type of scenario in which this terrible attack occurred. Please note that although the following points may not have had specific relevance to the incident that cost the life of Constable Czapmik, please keep them in mind as important foundational concepts that can play a crucial role in your safety and survival.
Consider where you park.
If it’s within your control, try to select an area where you can easily see someone approaching your squad. An ideal situation would be one where you’re able to back into a spot that doesn’t allow for someone to approach you from behind.
Also, refrain from doing paperwork or otherwise sitting idle close to the scene of a call where subjects you’ve had contact with can quickly locate and approach you. Move away from the scene to complete your paperwork.
Lastly, although seemingly obvious, pick a spot that you know from experience to be relatively safe and protected if you’re able.
Watch your interior lighting.
At night, interior lighting in your squad can be a major officer safety factor. It’s best to avoid a bright white bulb in your dome light. Not only does this kind of sharp lighting fully illuminate you and the interior of your vehicle, but it can make it very difficult to see out your windows and can seriously compromise your night vision.
There are a number of options you can use to filter or otherwise diminish the level of intensity of your interior lighting without inhibiting your ability to see; things like using a red or amber bulb in your dome light, using heat resistant paint to coat the interior of your dome light cover, inserting a heat resistant gel sheet, cut to size, inside your dome cover, etc.
Try to work in an upright position.
Whenever possible, it’s best to try to use your steering wheel as a platform for positioning your clipboard and paperwork as opposed to keeping them in your lap or laying them across an arm rest or other low position that requires you to look down for prolonged periods of time. Positioning your clipboard at the level of the steering wheel will allow you to sufficiently read and write while maintaining the ability to quickly and easily glance up to look through the windshield. This positioning also allows you to spot approaching people in your peripheral vision much faster than if you were looking down.
Remember to glance.
When you’re sitting in your squad focusing on paperwork or something other than the exterior atmosphere, make it a point to frequently glance up and around, through the windshield, into the main rear view mirror and into each side mirror. If you’re in a location where vehicles are passing by you from the front, try not to catch a direct blast of approaching headlights in the eye. This can throw off your night vision.
Keep your car running.
If you need to get out of the area quickly, not having to take the extra step of starting your car can save you precious seconds.
Try to avoid sitting in one area for a prolonged period of time. If you’ve got a lot of paperwork to complete, intermittently move to different locations.