POLICE Magazine

JUL 2018

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14 POLICE JULY 2018 e tactical concept known as Contact and Cover did not start with me. But I co-wrote the first book on the subject in 1992, with San Diego Police Detective Lieu- tenant John Morrison, a few years after my article of the same name first ran in the April 1989 issue of POLICE. Nearly 30 years is a long run for anything, police tactics especially, but maybe it's time to call the idea done. If not dead, then at least "modified to death" by academies and trainers who have reinvented it as something else. More on that in a moment. Lt. John Morrison, Sgt. Chuck Peck, and other post-Vietnam combat era and post-race riot 1970s cops at the San Diego Police Department were the founders, trainers, and explainers of Con- tact and Cover. I happened to come along in 1984, when we had just lost two SDPD officers in one shooting incident that Septem- ber, and then again, when one was killed and one wounded in May 1985. Morrison wrote and narrated the SDPD video re-en- actment of the first shooting, which happened in a place called Grape Street Park. In the early 1990s, that video soon became a common training tape for local, state, and federal agencies across the country to show and train with. I watched it recently and smiled to see Shelley Zimmerman, who just retired as the chief of police in San Diego after a stellar 35-year career, playing the girlfriend of one of the shooting suspects in the video. As a brief review, the Contact and Cover concept is simple to understand and easy to train. In any field or correctional situa- tion with one or more uncontrolled subjects nearby, one officer/ deputy/trooper/ranger acts as the Contact Officer, handling all the business of the contact. is includes talking to subjects, pat- ting them down, writing anything, and directing the subject's movements. It includes searching the subject's car or belongings, and talking on the radio. It includes handcuffing, searching, and moving the subject. e function of the Cover Officer is to provide cover and a force presence that sends a message to the subject or any other people nearby that he or she is there to watch over and protect the Con- tact Officer at all times, including intervening with deadly force if necessary. e Cover Officer should position himself or herself in such a way to see or hear what is happening with the encoun- ter, but not too close to be seen as butting in or trying to overly intimidate the subject. e Cover Officer does not step into the conversation, search other companion subjects who are with the first subject, talk on the radio, fill out citation forms, or search the subject's car. e Cover Officer can provide information the Contact Officer may have missed. e Contact or Cover Officers can switch roles if applicable, in situations where one officer speaks the subject's language, has previous experience with the subject, or has other training or knowledge which would make him or her the best choice as Contact Officer. e Cover Officer covers while the Contact Of- ficer contacts. Or so we thought, when we wrote the book that described the approach 25 years ago. So what happened? Why does Contact and Cover seem to have faded into obscurity? Since I travel the country teaching active shooter workshops, I talk to a lot of cops. When I mention Contact and Cover, I hear a variety of statements about it: Is Contact and Cover Dead? THIS TWO-OFFICER TECHNIQUE USED TO BE A CORNERSTONE OF PATROL TRAINING AND TACTICS. Steve Albrecht g

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