So, will 2018 be safer for you? The dozens of officers murdered in the line of duty each year reach out from the grave and answer, "Probably not."
As this is written (mid-December), two more officers were shot early this morning. (The only good news in this one is that the suspect is dead, and the two Bremerton, WA, officers are alive.) And thank goodness there were fewer officers murdered in the line of duty in 2017 compared to 2016. But not everyone's going to make it home from work in 2018, as is true every year. The numbers go up and down, and down is where we need to be.
The anti-police types often compare officer deaths to other professions. Construction work is deadlier, for example, so what do cops have to complain about? Well, industrial accidents are just that, accidents. Murders of police officers are attacks on society itself.
Pressures for you to "de-escalate" (as if de-escalation is something new) accompanied by discipline from your agency and sometimes criminal prosecution are reportedly causing some de-policing out there. And so the pendulum swings, as it always does. And it will swing back in your favor as crime rises and the public gets sick of crime.
Meanwhile, you owe it to your public and yourselves to do the best you can. If it's not a life-threatening emergency happening right in front of you, take your time. Get some back-up. Call for a supervisor and some nonlethal weapons. Assess the situation. Make a plan. Follow your policy and your training. Be safe. Go home.
For those of you operating under the influence of social media or the round-the-clock news, you're probably tired of the anti-police fervor out there that insults your pride and your integrity as you try to do your job as best you can.
Here's my solution: Get some books and read some facts about your business that might make you safer in 2018.
Here are a few books you might spend some time with:
"The War on Cops: How the New Attack on Law and Order Makes Everyone Less Safe" by Heather Mac Donald. The anti-police crowd and liberals in general seem to hate Mac Donald. They choose to kill the messenger. But I haven't seen anyone refute her facts about your profession and the dangers that come with it.
"In Context: Understanding Police Killings of Unarmed Civilians" by Nick Selby, Ben Singleton, and Ed Flosi. This is a fascinating, detailed, case-by-case examination of these tragic events. There is much to be learned here that impacts your safety on the street and perhaps your ability to avoid such an incident.
"Deadly Force Encounters: What Cops Need to Know to Mentally and Physically Prepare for and Survive a Gunfight" by Dr. Alexis Artwohl. Yes, this is an oldie, published in 1997. But it's really a goodie. It stands the test of time with its clear explanations of the psychology, physiology, and training implications for critical use-of-force incidents.
"Blue Lives Matter: In the Line of Duty" by Steve Cooley and Robert Schirn. Hot off the press, and could save your life. This book details the tragic murders of police officers and sheriff's deputies in Los Angeles County. It is the first of a series authored by former District Attorney of Los Angeles County Steve Cooley (who also was an LAPD reserve officer) and career prosecutor Bob Schirn. From the crime scene to the courtroom, the book is richly detailed. Each chapter has a "Lessons Learned" section that proves that the classic deadly errors we learned two generations ago from Pierce Brooks' book "Officer Down…Code Three" must be re-learned by every generation of officers.
Online, read PoliceMag.com. And subscribe to Force Science News. It's free at www.forcescience.org
Don't let the pains of the media frenzy keep you down. Take a deep breath. Educate yourself. "Let's be careful out there," like the sarge said.
I hope 2018 is a safer year for you.
Greg Meyer is a retired Los Angeles Police Department captain and a member of the POLICE Advisory Board.