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Contact and cover: No time for tactical complacency

Driving through a suburban intersection the other day, I saw this scene:

Parked a few yards into a cul-de-sac street were three squad cars. Behind them was a suspect vehicle, its trunk lid raised. A patrol officer was searching the trunk and standing right next to him, on his gun side, was a male subject in handcuffs.

In front of the target vehicle stood two other uniformed officers, amiably chatting with each other and not otherwise occupied. Neither of them had eyes on the searching officer nor the cuffed subject. In fact, their view was blocked by the raised trunk lid.

A skilled offender could easily have body-slammed the searching officer and, even with hands restrained, could have disarmed him. And then... whatever the attacker decided.

Being a good partner involves more than merely being present. The contact/cover principle demands that at least one extra officer at any scene be watching the action protectively, from a position where immediate intervention is possible if needed.

Yes, it was a normally quiet neighborhood. Yes, it was daytime with lots of civilian traffic around. But no, it wasn’t a time for tactical complacency.

It never is.

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