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Learning from the audio of 'San Diego 998'

Learning from videotape and audiotape of life-and-death incidents is one of the foundational principles of the Street Survival Seminar

Editor’s Note: This article — I believe it to be either the 400th or 401st I’ve written for PoliceOne — is dedicated to the memory of all law enforcement officers who have made the ultimate sacrifice in the service of their community. May you rest in peace... 

On August 6th of this year, San Diego Police Officer Jeremy Henwood was fatally wounded in a senseless and vicious attack. He was transported via ambulance to a local hospital where he succumbed to his injuries.

Within a few short days of this incident, several of my many “pen pal” friends across the country sent me links to the below video clip. I listened to it — it’s audio, with an accompanying slide show in tribute to Officer Henwood — and decided at that time to not immediately post it on PoliceOne. I believed that there needed to be some time and space between this sickening tragedy and the “lessons” to be learned from it — which, incidentally, are NOT about anything done (or not done) by Officer Henwood.

More on that in just a moment, but for now, I’ll suffice it to say, “It’s the Comms.”

Alchemy from Tragedy
Before I get there, I want to explain why I decided to post this today. In sum, it is because next week — for the first time in more than three years — I will once again be in attendance at the Street Survival Seminar. I’m taking my new PoliceOne partner, Hayley Hudson, with me — it will be her first Seminar — and I’m looking forward to helping her understand the depth and the magnitude of the educational opportunity she’s about to experience. Learning from videotape and audiotape of life-and-death incidents is one of the foundational principles of the Street Survival Seminar, so with our Seminar just days away, I thought it as fitting a time as any to post this item.

As I stated, the lessons — for me at least — most plainly evident in this seven minutes or so of audiotape is the radio traffic. The responding officers, the dispatcher, and the air unit (Able) performed in an exemplary fashion, despite being in the most dire of straits imaginable. One of the people who sent this to me had forwarded with it a snippet from the email he’d received:

Here is the link to the San Diego 998. Listen to the radio discipline and remember the officers are responding to one of their own down. They have outstanding control of their traffic. They maintained their control and ended up catching the bad guy. Keep this in mind when you are in a stressful situation and remember that control of your radio demeanor will make the difference between catching and not catching the bad guy, as well as the safety of your fellow officers.

I don’t know who said that (names and email addresses in this string were removed entirely), but I do know I couldn’t have said it better myself.

By the time I write again here on PoliceOne, I’ll have once again experienced the immense power of the Street Survival Seminar. I hope to immediately and over a prolonged period of time convert that energy into articles and tactical tips which enable officers to be safer and more successful on the street.

Stay safe my friends.

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