Officer Safety

Individual Costs


Michael Warren

July 7, 2022

July 7, 2022

Everything has a cost. And today, with historic inflation, costs seem to be on the rise everywhere. It seems that every other news story is discussing the negative impact that the rise in cost is having on people across this great nation.

But when we talk about cost, the discussion can be somewhat abstract when we discuss the cost to the organization and/or to the instructor. But when we start talking about the cost for the individual, the cost of training or not training, it becomes much, much more real.

You will get no argument from me that there is an organizational responsibility to train you. And to train you properly. And to train you regularly. No disagreement there.

But learning, however, is an individual responsibility. Hopefully a lot of that learning is taking place in training that is provided by your agency. But if not, there still is a need for you to learn. Learning makes you safer. Learning makes US safer.

Recently, there have been two line of duty deaths that were the direct result of improper searches of arrested persons. Our brothers who were murdered in these cases represented different ends of the experience spectrum. One was relatively new, and the other was very experienced.

And of course none of us have all the information regarding these two incidents. And I don’t want to talk about those incidents and specifics anyway. This is about training. When was the last time that you went to training on properly searching and arrest in person? When was the last time you practiced proper searching techniques of an arrested person? A basic skill that is done with regularity by the overwhelming majority of those that work in law enforcement is rarely, if ever, trained and/or practiced.

It’s one of those skills that we think is like riding a bike. We believe it’s a skill that once you have it there’s no longer a need to practice it or improve. So we don’t. We don’t practice and therefore we don’t improve.

A major league baseball pitcher literally has thrown thousands and thousands of pitches. And if they’re a starting pitcher, it’s likely that they’re throwing somewhere in the neighborhood of 100 pitches in each game that they start. But what do they do on their days off? They have throwing days. Days in which they practice throwing pitches. Something they do all the time. Something that they are literally the best in the world at doing. Yet they practice it. They’ve been throwing pitches since they started in Little League. But they never get to the point where they say, “You know what? I no longer need to practice because I know how to do it.”

But we have people in our profession that get to that point. They do believe that they have reached the pinnacle of performance in certain activities. And they never practice it or train on it. And that’s where the individual cost comes in.

And it isn’t just in the arena of searching arrested persons – it can be in anything. In firearm skills. And driving skills. And first aid skills. But when we as individuals fail to prepare ourselves properly there is a cost to be paid. Most of the time we may not even see the cost. Because the cost is complacency. And we get away with it again and again and again and again and nothing bad happens. So we think it’s okay. Until it isn’t.

As a professional you should pay the cost. Pay the cost up front in the form of training properly. In mindset preparation. Of ensuring that I am always trying to improve my skills. Those things are costly. They cost us time and energy. And they cost us, in some cases, our ego. Because we must set our ego aside and perhaps be made fun of by others because we are practicing something that is so simple. But it’s okay. It’s a cost worth paying. Now or later – the cost must be paid.