Last week I was in the Orlando area for the SHOT Show. After attending a dinner with manufacturing reps, I went back to the hotel and turned on the TV. The lead story was a report about an officer-involved shooting in Daytona Beach Shores.
Here’s what happened, according to police reports and media accounts. Some time in the early morning hours of Jan. 12, police tried to pull over a motorist who was driving erratically. I’ll let you draw your own conclusions as to what “erratically” really means. Anyway, Daytona Beach Shores police say that the driver declined their offer for a roadside chat and kept going and going.
I’ll spare you much of the details of this idiocy. But during the slow-speed chase, the motorist reportedly tried to ram the officers who were attempting to capture him. Officer Sean Rooney was struck, and he and the other officers opened fire, wounding the driver and his female passenger. The man was arrested and charged with all kinds of stuff, including attempted murder.
But that’s just the background information that you needed to understand the rest of this discussion. The focus here is actually on Officer Sean Rooney or more what he experienced as a result of said chase.
Now I know only two things about Officer Sean Rooney: He is a sworn officer with the Daytona Beach Shores Police Department and in the pre-dawn hours of Friday Jan. 12, he was in great pain.
You see, the footage on the local TV news showed this officer being loaded into an ambulance, and the look on his face and in his eyes communicated one overriding human emotion: He was in agony. And with good reason. More than a ton of motor vehicle had just run over his foot.
I wish that I could somehow rent a theater and show the images of Rooney’s pain to every law-abiding American. It might give them an idea of how dedicated all good law enforcement officers are and teach them to treat you with a little more respect. It might also give them a much needed lesson in the humanity of warriors.
The public’s view of the modern American warrior is epitomized by Agent Jack Bauer on the extremely addictive TV show “24.”
Jack Bauer might as well be a machine. He can return from 18 months of starvation and torture in a Chinese prison and miraculously throw a suicide bomber through the back of a moving subway car. He can endure a beating, a shooting, an electrocution, and/or a cutting, and 15 minutes later spring back to life with all the vigor of an 18-year-old track star. And oddly enough, during the five 24-hour periods of Jack Bauer’s life that have been chronicled on the show, he has never gone to the bathroom. So Jack Bauer is never startled, never worn out, and never needs a pit stop.
You, my friends, are, in contrast, human. And it’s important that you, your trainers, and the public you serve realize that this is so. It’s important because it determines how you can and will perform under extreme stress.
On page 18, you can read an interview with former patrol officer turned author and researcher Bruce Siddle. Siddle, who will speak at TREXPO West on March 21, has dedicated much of his life to studying what he calls “use-of-force human factors.” For example, Siddle has discovered that survival stress triggers a sympathetic nervous system (SNS) response that limits your ability to perform in combat.
One of the most human factors about combat is that it is painful. That’s something that TV heroes like Jack Bauer will never experience. But Officer Sean Rooney and thousands of other law enforcement officers injured and wounded in the line of duty know very well.