Officer Friendly Meets Officer Tactical

The conversation reminded me of my days in Crime Prevention and Training. “When the officer stopped me, he was so cold.” I responded, “Was he rude?” “No” they replied, “He was just not very friendly.” I’ve just answered this question so many times, I go on autopilot. That was my role as “Officer Friendly,” the moniker giver to crime prevention officers who spend their time working with and answering questions from the public.

There are some things that only LEOs know. We know that there is no such thing a routine traffic stop. There is no such thing as a safe situation, and there is no such thing as an unarmed encounter. LEOs are attacked and shot on traffic stops every day. Situations that seem safe can turn deadly in seconds, and many LEOs are attacked with improvised weapons, the hands and feet of suspects, and the LEO’s own duty weapon. This past week, we were again reminded of these facts.

On March 22, 2014, Windermere Police Officer Robert German was shot and killed investigation a report of two suspicious persons in a park. On February 4, 2014, an officer with my former department was shot multiple times during a traffic stop. Fortunately, he will recover and God willing will be back on the street again soon. We need him out there protecting us. On January 21, 2014, Agent Carlos Rivera-Vega was shot and killed while conducting an investigation when an individual approached him and opened fire. These incidents are ever present in the mind of all LEOs every day on every call.

So, many times, “Officer Friendly” will not show up when you call 911 or you are pulled over for a traffic violation. Instead, her identical twin, “Officer Tactical” will be present. Officer Tactical may appear to be “all business” and rarely smile. Officer Tactical will approach situations with caution and may give commands before even saying “Hello.” She may seem suspicious and prepared for trouble. Here’s a hint; she is. Given the incidents cited above, and thousands of others, she should be.

Remember that both Officer Friendly and Officer Tactical have other titles. They are known as “Mom” or “Dad” or “Husband” or “Wife.” Those are titles they want to keep. So all LEOs must  keep getting the word out and continue to use the appropriate caution in every situation. Nothing is routine. Stay safe.

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