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Police Training

May 13, 2014

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Dash-cam video offers reminder about thoroughly searching suspects

Submitted by:
Doug Wyllie, PoliceOne Editor in Chief

Dash-cam video. Gun hidden in waist band. Improper search. One dead suspect. And one or two officers taking a breath, knowing they may have just gotten really, really lucky to have lived to tell the tale.

Last year, police in a Dallas suburb caught 32-year-old David Hartman, a man found to be riding a motorcycle that had been reported stolen. Once in the back of the squad, Hartman is seen slipping his handcuffs under his feet, drawing his handgun, shooting out the window, and attempting to escape.

Ultimately, Hartman is fatally shot by officers.

Using "Stupid" to get Smarter
As you’ll hear in the video, Austin Police Association President Wayne Vincent says — and we all know — that there's a difference between a pat down and a search. Saliently — and sadly — he also explains to the TV reporter one of the reasons why cops sometimes fail to fully search a subject before putting them in the back of the squad car. 

“Too many times… officers are in a hurry to put the person behind in the back seat, not hurt them, not fight with them anymore, because we get in trouble for using excessive force and sometimes those searches aren't conducted,” Vincent said. “Sometimes you go home and you think about how stupid you were, but that just makes you better.”

The operative phrase there — in my opinion — is to take any such mistake and use it as an opportunity to make yourself and everyone on your shift safer and more successful. To “get better.”

Let’s take this video, share it, talk about it, and use it to get better. Your job is supremely difficult, and mistakes are going to sometimes happen, but if we can use each mistake as a teaching / learning opportunity, those mistakes may be mitigated. 

Check out the video. Stay safe out there my friends. 

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