FREE e-Newsletter
Important News - Hot Topics
Get them Now!
Randy Sutton

Randy Sutton

Randy Sutton is a 33-year law enforcement veteran, a trainer, and the national spokesman for The American Council on Public Safety. He served 10 years with the Princeton (N.J.) Police Department and 23 years with the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department, retiring at the rank of lieutenant. He is an author who has published multiple books on law enforcement.
September 2015 (1)
August 2015 (3)
July 2015 (6)
June 2015 (3)
May 2015 (2)
April 2015 (3)
March 2015 (5)
February 2015 (1)
January 2015 (1)
December 2014 (9)
October 2014 (2)
September 2014 (2)
August 2014 (2)
July 2014 (1)
June 2014 (2)
May 2014 (2)
April 2014 (4)
March 2014 (2)
February 2014 (3)
January 2014 (3)
December 2013 (2)
November 2013 (2)
October 2013 (3)
September 2013 (5)
August 2013 (3)
July 2013 (3)
June 2013 (3)
May 2013 (4)
April 2013 (3)
March 2013 (5)
February 2013 (3)
January 2013 (3)
December 2012 (5)
November 2012 (2)
October 2012 (4)
September 2012 (2)
August 2012 (5)
July 2012 (4)
June 2012 (3)
May 2012 (5)
April 2012 (6)
March 2012 (5)
February 2012 (3)
January 2012 (5)
December 2011 (5)
November 2011 (3)
October 2011 (3)
September 2011 (3)
August 2011 (2)
July 2011 (2)
June 2011 (3)
May 2011 (4)
April 2011 (3)
March 2011 (5)
February 2011 (3)
January 2011 (3)
December 2010 (2)
November 2010 (4)
October 2010 (4)
September 2010 (5)
August 2010 (4)
July 2010 (4)
June 2010 (4)
May 2010 (4)
April 2010 (3)
March 2010 (3)
February 2010 (1)
January 2010 (3)
December 2009 (4)
November 2009 (4)
October 2009 (2)
September 2009 (3)
August 2009 (4)
July 2009 (5)
June 2009 (3)
May 2009 (5)
April 2009 (4)
March 2009 (4)
February 2009 (3)
January 2009 (2)
December 2008 (4)
November 2008 (3)
October 2008 (3)
September 2008 (3)
August 2008 (2)
July 2008 (3)
June 2008 (4)
May 2008 (5)
April 2008 (5)
March 2008 (4)
February 2008 (5)
January 2008 (3)
December 2007 (2)
November 2007 (5)
October 2007 (4)
September 2007 (4)
August 2007 (5)
July 2007 (4)
June 2007 (4)
May 2007 (5)
Patrol

The Importance of Backup

Don't wait until things go bad to ask for help.

November 09, 2007  |  by - Also by this author

For cops, the word "backup" connotes different things. It can mean everything from saving duplicate copies of computer files, to having a secondary firearm, to keeping a street wife on the side. For most, it means having another officer on scene.

But officers like to be prudent in requesting backup. They don't want to impose on other officers. They know their fellow cop is often busy doing his own thing and recognize all too well in a world of constrained resources that time spent on any given enterprise is invariably at the expense of another. They don't want to be seen as incapable of handling their own responsibilities. Most importantly, they don't want to create a reputation as the "boy who cried wolf," where their frequent requests for assistance finds them with no one rolling when they really need help.

As a result, many officers forego requesting backup once a situation is deemed "secure." The suspect has been searched, is in custody, and seemingly cooperative.

But such circumstances are exactly when you might want to have a backup officer on hand, especially in an era where many agencies increasingly field one-person patrol cars.

Having a second officer on scene when things are apparently "code 4" can prevent, or at least mitigate, unfortunate surprises. Little things like having a prisoner slip out of your backseat while your nose is buried beneath the front seat of his POV. Things like the suspect's friends happening along and lynching him from same. Things like fabricated allegations made by the suspect or his friends with no one available to corroborate your version of events.

Such backup can also help prevent escapes, thereby mitigating the possibility of injuries to the suspect or other officers that might otherwise occur in the aftermath of such an eventuality.

Take, for example, the DUI suspect you've placed in your backseat as you're parked roadside waiting for a tow truck. Suddenly, the suspect decides he's not as enamored as you are of the prospect of his wearing your handcuffs. He starts by banging his head on the window, quickly escalating to kicking out the rear window. True, you might have one of those immobilizing contraptions in your patrol car that would prevent this, but humor me on this, particularly as most patrol cars don't have 'em. Do you pepper spray him? Apply a RIPP Hobble Restraint? TASER his uncooperative ass?

Having a second officer on scene automatically gives you more options, not the least of which is having him kick the guy's ass (just kidding). Another officer will not only help you gain control of the man, but give your watch commander a corroborative version of events. It sure as hell is better than arriving back at the station with a beat-to-shit patrol car, or showing up at the local hospital with a suspect whose injuries were sustained after the cuffs were secured, with only your say-so to show for it (another time and place it might have been…but these are risk management times).

If a unit shows himself on a T-stop and you're in the area, take the initiative and roll by just to make sure he or she is OK. Even if they don't need you, odds are they'll appreciate your looking out for them. They might even return the favor.

By having a good working relationship with your sister cars, and being reciprocal in matters of backup, an officer enhances his chances for physical and career survival.


Comments (2)

Displaying 1 - 2 of 2

[email protected] @ 11/9/2007 9:06 PM

Working for a small, rural police agency can be hairy, I've lost count the number of times I've gone to Domestics and Drunks alone as we work All shifts alone and with only God and sound Tactics on my side, have emerged unscathed! A Commanding Presence and a Take no Shit attitude can only take you so far before you have to get Physical; luckily working alone is a distant memory as our Agency now works closer with the RCMP but that was not always the case! In the past, certain members of the " Force " had the Attitude that my Agency was Second rate and we couldn't handle " It " ourselves; all the while having 4 or 5 cars show up at their calls and not having to worry about having another set of helping hands, we didn't have that Luxury! Lone Wolf Policing at it's Finest!

ronavallone2 @ 3/30/2008 4:51 PM

KICKING ASS! Funny, But not always so when alone. We all appreciate help and to be real while w/ the sheriff's office in single man units, PD was my first backup. I for one don't mind second rate police helping, even security personnel and we have alot around here. I WOULD CONSIDER SOME OF THEM FIRST RATE! Back up is back up! I treat all as I would want to be treated. Good article Sgt. Dean.

Join the Discussion





POLICE Magazine does not tolerate comments that include profanity, personal attacks or antisocial behavior (such as "spamming" or "trolling"). This and other inappropriate content or material will be removed. We reserve the right to block any user who violates this, including removing all content posted by that user.

Other Recent Blog Posts

America's Turning Point – The War on Police
We can either be destroyed by ISIS and Al Qaeda terrorists from outside of our borders; or...
Four Stresses Cops Deal With That Non-Cops Should Know About
There are similar occupations (military, firefighting, EMS first responders) but just as a...

Get Your FREE Trial Issue and Win a Gift! Subscribe Today!
Yes! Please rush me my FREE TRIAL ISSUE of POLICE magazine and FREE Officer Survival Guide with tips and tactics to help me safely get out of 10 different situations.

Just fill in the form to the right and click the button to receive your FREE Trial Issue.

If POLICE does not satisfy you, just write "cancel" on the invoice and send it back. You'll pay nothing, and the FREE issue is yours to keep. If you enjoy POLICE, pay only $25 for a full one-year subscription (12 issues in all). Enjoy a savings of nearly 60% off the cover price!

Offer valid in US only. Outside U.S., click here.
It's easy! Just fill in the form below and click the red button to receive your FREE Trial Issue.
First Name:
Last Name:
Rank:
Agency:
Address:
City:
State:
  
Zip Code:
 
Country:
We respect your privacy. Please let us know if the address provided is your home, as your RANK / AGENCY will not be included on the mailing label.
E-mail Address:

Police Magazine