“No one on my beat will try to kill me. I know them all and they like me.”
What would you say to an officer who believes this? Share your thoughts.
By Lt. Jim Glennon, Lombard, IL (ret.)
“It’s really about you as an individual developing the mindset necessary to win and survive on the street.”
I made that comment recently to an attendee at the Calibre Press Street Survival Seminar held in Kalamazoo, MI last month. My remark was in response to the young female officer’s observation that the seminar seemed to speak directly to individuals in a group rather than a group of like-minded law enforcement officers. She informed me that prior to her attendance, she was told by colleagues that the one seminar she absolutely had to attend was the Street Survival Seminar. She went on to say that while most everyone endorsed the seminar, no one really explained what it was all about. “I thought this was going to be all about specific patrol tactics and other types of tactical deployment.”
As we continued to talk she told me that she worked with a great “group of guys” and she loved her supervisor (a repeat attendee) because he made the safety of his officers a “top priority." However she fretted over the possibility of being assigned to another shift where, according to her, the Watch Commander was less concerned with the lives’ of his officers and more concerned with his own career.
She concluded our conversation with; “But now I know that both my safety and my attitude are mine and mine alone. No matter how good my Sergeant is, my safety and winning on the street is unquestionably up to me.”
Her statement summed up the point of the entire Seminar, which is, by the way, the same point that has existed since its inception over 25 years ago: An officer’s safety is dependant on the attitude and perspective of the individual. Chuck Remsberg, the father of the seminar, would have been proud.
But in contrast…
Another younger Officer, probably about 25, approached me during a break at a Street Survival Seminar in Montana. He walked up, shook my hand and went on for several minutes about how much fun he was having at the Seminar (“I can’t believe I’m laughing this much.”) and how emotionally charged he was after watching and discussing the videos that depicted officers being maimed and killed. His remarks were similar to those we hear at all of the Seminars, but I appreciated them all the same.
However, his final comment literally sent a chill up my spine. Just before he turned and walked away he made this off-handed remark:
“But, this really doesn’t apply to me and my department. We only have five guys in my agency. We all live in town, we all went to the same high school. No one on my beat will try to kill me. I know them all and they like me.”
My main concerns after hearing this comment were twofold: One, I needed to resist ringing his neck and two … well… I needed to resist ringing his neck.
What I love about writing these columns is the response I get from police officers all over the country to the rambling words I place in cyberspace. I teach several classes besides Street Survival. Not that this makes me an expert, but two of the classes I facilitate are called: The Warriors Edge: Practical to Tactical Communication and Arresting Conversation. I mention these because a staple in both classes addresses the art of asking questions. What types, based on what, and when to place them. Questions are powerful. They open the door to endless possibilities.
So I am going to end this article with a couple of questions and hope that I get a variety of responses from those of you who are practitioners in the field of law enforcement.
What do you think I said, or should have said, to this young officer from that small town in the Northwest portion of our country?
Over a span of about ten years I presented about 2,000 students with a survey that asked a series of questions that dealt mostly with intra-department communication and the relationship between line-level officers and the administrations they work for. While there were 14 separate questions, my favorite was this one:
What is the most important thing to your immediate supervisor reference your day-to-day activity and behavior?
The number one answer from officers from around the country, by over 65%, was quite revealing. My question to you, readers, is this:
What do you think that answer was?
I look forward to your thoughts, guesses, and opinions. Please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org and I will disclose the results in next month’s column.