Memorial Day is the unofficial "first day of summer" in the United States. Sure, people visit Veteran's Memorials, place flags in military cemeteries, and say prayers for the survivors who lost their loved ones. But those same people also gather at cook-outs, block parties, and go to the beach for the first time of the season.
 - Image courtesy of Doug Wyllie.

Memorial Day is the unofficial "first day of summer" in the United States. Sure, people visit Veteran's Memorials, place flags in military cemeteries, and say prayers for the survivors who lost their loved ones. But those same people also gather at cook-outs, block parties, and go to the beach for the first time of the season.

Image courtesy of Doug Wyllie.

This Memorial Day weekend we will recognize the ultimate sacrifice made by American service members over the course of this country's history. People will visit veteran's memorials, place flags in military cemeteries, and quietly say prayers for the survivors who lost their loved ones.

Those same people will also gather at cook-outs and block parties, and go to the beach for the first time of the season, as the Memorial Day weekend has effectively become the unofficial start to summer.

This is an excellent opportunity to offer some reminders on how to safely conduct your police business as the months get warmer, the kids are freed from their obligation to go to school, and the vacationers hit the nation's highways and hotels.

Officer Safety

Summer in most American states can get hot—in some places the summer heat can get downright unbearable. It's important to remain hydrated. Keep a flat of water bottles in the trunk, or get one of those good insulated water bottles and continue to refill it over the course of your shift.

Another issue with the heat is the tendency of some officers to stop wearing their ballistic armor. Don't do this. There are now several options to help keep officers at least reasonably cool. You can read about them here:

Other health and wellness considerations include making sure you have a nice supply of bug spray to keep the mosquitos at bay and top-quality sunblock to keep your skin healthy in the baking hot sun.

School's Out

School's out, so there will be a few things to keep in mind regarding young people of all ages. Kids will be on the streets, in the playgrounds, and generally out and about in your jurisdiction.

Be advised that the number of kids struck by cars skyrockets during the summer months because their exposure to vehicles is substantially higher than when school is in session. Step up traffic enforcement to ensure that those young ones are protected.

Additionally, teachers are the most common individuals to report suspected abuse or neglect of a child. Those reports fall off substantially during the summer because the teachers lose their opportunity to observe such indications.

Consequently, it's a good idea to make every effort to visit with kids and look for any signs that an individual is in harm's way at home.

Domestic Calls

For whatever reason—high heat, long days, kids running amok in the house, alcohol consumption at social events, or some combination of the above—domestic violence calls increase in frequency and severity during the summer months.

Use your best tactics and training.

Don't park directly in front of the residence—an officer's approach to the front door of a dwelling at a DV call is one of the most common scenarios during which they come under ambush fire.

Arrive in twos and threes. Handling a domestic is not a solo activity. Unless there are exigent circumstances in which the safety of someone inside is at risk, wait for backup before knocking on the front door.

Independence Day

Independence Day offers some unique challenges. Combining hot weather, large crowds, consumption of copious amounts of alcohol, and people playing with fireworks—both legal and illegal—and you have a recipe for a variety of bad things to happen.

Make sure that you're adequately staffed for DUI check points and traffic enforcement. Speaking of equipment, check to make sure the fire extinguisher in your trunk is properly charged so you can respond to those fires inevitably set by recreational fireworks. Also, you need to have the necessary tools and training to deal with injuries to hands and fingers. And bear in mind that fireworks can be used as improvised weapons.

Finally, Independence Day gatherings present a heightened need for vigilance against a terrorist attack—either foreign or domestic. It's a sad reality that these events make the bad guys salivate.

Festivals and Fairs

The summer months bring myriad festivals and large-scale events.

These events present potential crowd control issues, but they are also excellent opportunities to strengthen ties with the community you serve. Ask the event organizers if they have room for the department to place a pop-up tent and a display table.

Your department—or your police union—can sell coffee mugs, T-shirts, and other stuff emblazoned with your shield or star. You can have the people who run the PAL or Explorer program present in your tent to recruit young people to become better connected with the department.

Be sure that the officers assigned to work the event have an ample supply of stickers to give to the kids, and maybe even an agency patch to give to someone special.

Water Response

If your jurisdiction has a body of water—whether it's an ocean, a bay, a lake, a river, or even a pond—the need to have some type of water resource is obvious. Every instance is different. In the San Francisco Bay Area—where I live—we have multiple agencies with multiple vessels of various size. If you're not adequately equipped for patrolling your body of water, examine how you might be able to leverage resources available to law enforcement through the 1033 program.

Practice your water rescue/first-aid skills before everyone shows up in their bathing suits to your local water attraction. Also bear in mind that backyard pools claim the lives of thousands of people every summer. According to the Centers for Disease Control drowning is the number one cause of unintentional death for children between the ages of one and four. The CDC says that a whopping 75% of drowning deaths of children younger than 15 occurred at a swimming pool located at a private residence pool. You may be called to one of these incident, so be ready to give CPR.

National Night Out

National Night Out is an annual community-building campaign that promotes strong police-community partnerships and neighborhood camaraderie to make our neighborhoods safer, more caring places to live and work, according to the National Night Out website.

Tuesday, August 6 is National Night Out this year. If your agency hasn't organized a National Night Out in years past, you might want to reconsider for this year. This is an important opportunity to—like at the annual festivals and fairs—make meaningful connections with members of your community.

NNO events vary from community to community. Some agencies bring out a bunch of equipment—armored vehicles, command vehicles, motorcycles, and other gear—to put on display. Some agencies host block parties. Some have chili cook-offs. Some have dance parties.

As the kids say today, "you do you."

Go Out and Play!

In closing, it's important to note that it's really important that you remember to take some time to be with friends and family for some off-duty fun. Perhaps it's a camping trip. Perhaps a resort stay? Maybe a family reunion?

Be sure to set time aside to do the summertime things that appeal to you.

Have a safe and successful summer my friends.

Author

Doug Wyllie
Doug Wyllie

Web Editor

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).

View Bio

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).

View Bio
0 Comments