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Brian Willis

Brian Willis

Brian Willis is a retired officer, trainer and author who now serves as deputy executive director for the International Law Enforcement Educators and Trainers Association (ILEETA).

Doug  Wyllie

Doug Wyllie

Doug Wyllie has authored more than 1,000 articles and tactical tips aimed at ensuring that police officers are safer and more successful on the streets. Doug is a Western Publishing Association “Maggie Award” winner for Best Regularly Featured Digital Edition Column. He is a member of International Law Enforcement Educators and Trainers Association (ILEETA), an Associate Member of the California Peace Officers’ Association (CPOA), and a member of the Public Safety Writers Association (PSWA).

William Harvey

William Harvey

William "Bill" Harvey is currently serving as chief of police in south central Pennsylvania. He retired from the Savannah (Ga.) Police Department where he worked assignments in training, patrol, and CID. Harvey has more than 25 years of experience working with recruits, rookies, and FTOs.

The Dreaded Triple Ds

Avoid doing anything dumb, dangerous, or deadly in training.

November 28, 2007  |  by William Harvey - Also by this author

I don't know what it is but if you ever hear someone say, "Hey, watch me do this," a first aid kit is usually called for next. It seems that every police department has some story of some officer doing one or a combination of the Triple D's, which stands for somebody doing something dumb, dangerous, or deadly.

I have told all of my students in the past the following two truisms. If you have to strap a bullet launcher on your hip to sling lead back at people who desire to hurt you, there is a problem in your life. Secondly, if you have got to put on a vest designed to stop bullets that someone is slinging at you, there is a real problem in your life. My goal as a trainer is to lessen the probability of your injury and make it a happy day.

I want you to have a happy and fulfilling career, and going to the emergency room to get stitched up and fixed up is not always a happy event. To the FTOs who are reading this, every practical exercise should include a safety statement. This is my rule. If you can't figure out a safety statement, stop a minute and think. I do not care if it is to retract the ball point of the pen before placing it back in your shirt pocket; stop and think.

Every department has its own stories of police who have overdosed on something dumb, dangerous, or deadly. I have a vast collection of training stories in my mental library, but there are a few stellar ones that come to mind.

One cautionary tale involved an FTO who had just completed a spontaneous knife defense course. He was so excited that he decided he would demonstrate with his recruit later that night. He did get the recruit to unload her weapon. He did use a prop knife. But in his demonstration of what to do if attacked, he forgot to unload his weapon and shot the recruit.

Good news: she had on her ballistic vest and he was a good shot and therefore hit her in the vest. Bad news: no safety officer or supervisor was present, no FTO lesson plans for such demos existed, and so forth. I do not have to go much further.

Another all-time favorite was one FTO who was demonstrating to his recruit his prowess with knives, especially the butterfly knife. During his dazzling display he managed to nearly cut off a finger or two and needed first aid attention. Are you seeing a similar pattern here?

One FTO had the brilliant idea of setting up another officer in a car outside of a business. The officer would be lying down in the car to see what the recruit did upon seeing a possible suspect in a vehicle. All went well, until the recruit was startled (probably a grip startle reflex) and pulled his gun and shot. Luckily the recruit was a bad shot and only hit the dirt—no car, no cop, and no foul…this time.

If you are a trainee, recruit, or FTO, you should ask the following question. Is this training scenario we are about to do dumb or dangerous or could this even be deadly? Then stop there and seek out your FTO, supervisor, or whoever is a designated trainer to perform as a safety officer. This third set of eyes and ears to a plan, triple checking the safety of the exercise and acting as a safety monitor can prevent injury and maybe save lives.

The goal is to teach lifelong career skills, not end a bright career early. Train hard, but train smart and safe!

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