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Mark Clark

Mark Clark

Mark Clark is the public information officer for a law enforcement agency in the southwest. He is also a photographer and contributor to POLICE Magazine.
Patrol

Off-Duty Interventions, On-Duty Aggravations, and Officer Safety

Officer safety is enhanced by new ideas and reinforced with the survival mindset.

October 09, 2012  |  by - Also by this author

El Paso Police Officer Jonathan Molina.
El Paso Police Officer Jonathan Molina.

The murder of El Paso police officer Jonathan Molina the other day reportedly by three teenagers finds me revisiting the matter of off-duty intervention. The skeletal synopses that I could find online of the event leaves much to conjecture; I don't even know if the vehicle being vandalized was his personal vehicle, or the police department's. Nor do I know whether Officer Molina was armed at the time of the event.

But I would hope that the next officer who finds himself dealing with three street punks will be armed, and I mean truly "armed" with more than just a gun or a TASER. By that I mean that I hope he or she is armed with a special kind of survival mindset. What kind of mindset? How's this as an example:

Years before he became president, Andrew Jackson found a gentleman's commentary regarding his wife sufficiently offensive so as to challenge the man to a duel. On the fateful day, the man fired first and struck the future president in the chest whereupon Jackson took aim and pulled the trigger of his own firearm. When the weapon did not discharge, he calmly re-cocked the piece and squeezed the trigger a second time. This time the gun fired and his opponent was struck and killed.

Afterward, noting the presence of the bullet that had taken residency in his chest and would stay with him the rest of his days, Jackson told a friend that even if the man had succeeded in shooting him in the head, he would still have killed his opponent.

I can relate to that kind of hatred and determination. As can many of you. And any lowlife—teenager, or not—that would stand to keep us from returning to our loved ones, who would deprive those loved ones the pleasure of our company before our times, is worthy of that kind of hard-boiled contempt. The kind that says I will come back from my damned grave to take you out.

In the meantime, it might be better to just refrain from confronting idiots, morons, and other assorted lowlifes while off-duty. If you can help it.

Burying the Lead

Anybody who doubts news media bias should consider this item from the Huffington Post on the death of actor Johnny Lewis. Nowhere in this story is there any hint of the fact that this actor tore apart a cat with his bare hands and beat an 80-year-old woman to death in the moments before his death from a fall itself incurred during a fight with two men that he attacked after the woman. Talk about burying the lead. Re-imagining the headline had it been a police officer: "Cat-dismembering Cop Kills 80 Year-old, Then Dies" Or something to that effect. Am I off here?

Dealing with a Fake Terrorist

If this is at all representative of the kind of demographic that they have to deal with, Phoenix cops should enjoy the ancillary benefit of ensured job security. Of course, I feel for the first cop who ends up killing some dummy in such a circumstance:

Fake Bigfoot Killed by Cars

Montana coppers caught an even bigger break: Their hoaxer got himself killed before law enforcement could respond. Talk about self-dispatch...

Great New Product

Pelican Products is an advertiser with us. That's my disclaimer. But I also really like their products. They just came out with a waterproof wallet that I love. This is a must have if you're the kind of guy who'll do pool rescues or work near bodies of water.

Sharing Officer Safety Ideas

The PoliceMag.com/Police Magazine audience includes officers from big city PDs and rural sheriff's offices. While the obligations of their jobs are often similar, the means by which they effect their duties are often quite different and not always by choice. As a result, these officers have learned new ways of doing things differently. But then, each have unique pressures brought to bear upon them.

It has been my experience that most cops are willing to share their experiences and insight for the benefit of their brethren, but don't always have the medium in which to do it. We certainly avail them one.

To that end, I get all manner of queries. For one reason or another, some end up being published. Some do not. Of the latter, it is sometimes because they're on peripherals related to the profession; they aren't necessarily unimportant, but they are decidedly outside our "center mass." Other times, the author has difficulty mining the ore of an idea—there is something of value to be had, but it hasn't been adequately expressed.

But we know that many of you have potentially life-saving information to share and can do it in a logical and coherent manner. If you have such material that you believe would be pertinent to a blog post on officer safety ideas that would help other officers, please forward them to me dean.scoville@policemag.com. I'm going to create a blog of the best ones, maybe even more than one blog. And unless you ask me not to, I'll give you credit.

I'm looking forward to reading your e-mails. Thanks in advance.

Tags: Officer Down, Officer Safety, Off-Duty Incidents


Comments (5)

Displaying 1 - 5 of 5

Rick @ 10/10/2012 8:35 AM

Calibre Press Street Survival is a great way to build that warrior attitude and learn about the current dangers that LEO's face. It was hands down the best class that I took.

George A. Avery @ 10/10/2012 11:52 AM

There is a notion that starts in the Academy that off duty means OFF. It seems that many cops literally brag that they never draw their handgun unless qualifying. The idea of a second gun or off duty carry sounds "paranoid" to so many. The result is cops who cannot get their guns out of their holsters quickly and even a lack of confidence when they are forced to unholster. The idea of saving lives off duty in a critical incident such as Aurora, CO is anathema (even if those lives include their own loved ones!) Probably the worst new gadget to issue to this kind of officer is the handgun FLASHLIGHT ATTACHMENT.Now he/she will use loaded pistol as a flashlight and ends up pointing this same instrument at EVERYONE in the building; inc, other officers and the shop owner (on a building search.) I am tired of having loaded .40 pistols pointed at me during midnight alarm calls!! Additionally, instructors refuse to admit the dirty little secret; since issuing these flashlights, stoppages and jams have proliferated even with the Glock Pistol. Criticize me if you wish-I speak from experience,

E @ 10/10/2012 12:15 PM

Mr. Avery, I agree with you in part there has been an increase in the "Off Duty" way of thinking that you described. Yet I have issue with the rest of what you talked about. weapons lights are a tool and like any tool a person has to be taught to be able to use it. Reading your post I have to say you speak like many I have run into quick to point out problems but not seeming to be willing to do anything to solve it. If you are getting swept by a muzzle during searches then say something to those officers, bring it up during department training or time at the range. the 1st rule is to go home at the end of the shift, to me that means not just making sure I have the tools to make it home but attempting to make sure that those I work with have them as well..

S.S @ 10/24/2012 1:14 PM

I'm an El Paso Police Dept. officer and have been so for 17 years. When news came out of Officer Molina's death it hit everyone hard out here. It was his car that these shitbags keyed. he went out there to confront them about it. He badged em and they knew what they were doing. They knew it was a police officers' car. They just didn't care and didn't think they were being watched. Hopefully this s.o.b. and his friends get the needle. It's just a damn shame.

emac @ 10/24/2012 3:36 PM

I have been working in LE for over seventeen years. 10 plus as a tactical instructor. I always advise all to carry all the time. One should never be caught with just your hands and feet. Great tools but sometimes you may need more. ALL LE's stay safe.

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