Stay Vigilant!

Police relations with the community aren't in a good spot today--one more reason to stay vigilant on the job

By Greg Erie  |   Jun 27, 2016
A lot is projected onto a black cop, and therein lies an opportunity.

Las Vegas, Nev.: Two officers were murdered while eating lunch in June 2014. Two NYPD Officers were murdered while sitting their squad car in December 2014. Two months prior to that another group of NYPD officers were attacked by a man with a hatchet. In the town of New Hope, Minn., a group of officers were fired upon after leaving a city council meeting. Two were injured and the gunman was killed. Deputy Sheriff Darren Goforth from the Harris County Sheriff’s Office, Texas, ambushed and killed while putting gas in his patrol vehicle on Aug. 28, 2015.

There’s no disputing these acts upon our nation’s peace keepers. What is happening? Why now?

Whether officers performed rightfully or not, it seems that these days any use of force will be criticized and, too often, unfairly so. The media loves and sustains any perceived controversy, so that the general public, which doesn’t understand our job, begins formulating their own ideas and opinions on how we should handle situations.

How to Stay Vigilant

Complacent—don’t be! Just. Don’t.

Every time you throw on your uniform you need to get into your work bubble. Put your head on a swivel and don’t assume your shift, court appearance, drive to work, drive home from work is going to go without incident.

Complacency kills, it’s been said, and it kills you twice. Being complacent invites predators (one). Staying complacent allows those predators to prey on you and do you harm (two).

Friendly and hardworking. Do this.

Be professional with everyone you meet. There is nothing wrong with getting out there and making contact with the general public or with people you meet while out on patrol. This is expected.

But don’t be overly friendly and let your guard down. Maintain your bearing and tactics and above all else. Be aware of what’s going on around you. Violent attacks, attacks in general, do not happen in a vacuum. There are ALWAYS signs and indicators but you must see them to be able to react to them. Better yet, when you are out there mingling, have another officer with you.

Cover officers/back up: Use them!  We know that not all of you reading this have the luxury of back-up officers or working a shift with 15 – 20 cars on the street and another dozen cops back in the station. In fact, that’s the case in most American departments.

But regardless of your staffing you really need to ask yourself if taking action is going to be beneficial or not. Can it wait and be dealt with later in a safer, more tactical environment and one of YOUR choosing? This is not an invitation to NOT do something when the situation clearly warrants doing so, but be mindful and tactical in your thinking. Don’t rush in.

Bullet-proof vest—wear it. Always.

Remember complacency? Going out in public without your vest on and all the tools you need is just plain dumb. I hear the excuses about it being too hot in the summer, uncomfortable, etc., etc. … It’s better to sweat than bleed and it’s better to be uncomfortable for a few hours than to be in surgery for a few hours due to a gunshot wound or a sucking chest wound.

Prepare yourself for the job! Hitting the street you should want and have every item available to you that is going to give you an edge over the circumstances you may face. If you don’t have one already, I would recommend you look into getting first aid supplies and learn how to use them. Tourniquets are a huge deal and come at little cost. Get one. Train with it and have it with you all the time.


2014 saw 15 unprovoked ambush attacks on your fellow officers. That is three times more than in 2013. These types of attacks are not going away, at least not anytime soon. It’s up to all of us to watch out for one another when doing the job. We all know that if we don’t, there aren’t a lot of others who will.

Stay safe and ready. Train hard.