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Fatal Errors

January 01, 2005  |  by Gerald W. Garner

In your line of work, making a "simple" mistake could get you killed. You already know that. But some mistakes are a lot worse than others. These deadly, "cardinal" sins of officer safety are practically guaranteed to result in bad things happening to you if you commit them.

You are also aware that certain activities that you engage in as a law enforcement officer are more likely by their very nature to expose you to high risks than are some other assignments. Making an arrest, engaging in a traffic contact, and intervening on the scene of domestic mayhem are, statistically, among the most dangerous things you can do. Make an error in your handling of one of these and you should anticipate a really bad day.

Identifying some of the worst mistakes you can make while handling one of these calls or contacts can go a long distance toward ensuring that you stay safe on the job. They are listed next, along with some bloody, real-life examples of what happened to some of your fellow officers who made them in the past. The good news is that you do not have to fall victim to the same errors that felled your peers. There are lots of things you can do to avoid becoming a statistic while still responding effectively to one of these potentially risky assignments.

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