POLICE Magazine Supplements

Special Report 2018

Magazine for police and law enforcement

Issue link: https://policemag.epubxp.com/i/977262

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Page 10 of 19

SPECIAL REPORT: KEEPING SCHOOLS SAFE 11 enforcement officers, we must train our- selves to stifle that urge. It has always been a common state- ment within law enforcement hallways and lineups that our greatest priority and number one goal is that we "all get home safely to our families." At first glance that seems noble and sensible. No officer en- ters a shift wishing to never see their loved ones again. However, when faced with the darkness and evil of rampage-style kill- ings, that mindset cannot exist within the modern law enforcement ethos. We are devoted, trained, some would say even called, to valorously perform an inherently dangerous job to protect and serve those who fall within our jurisdic- tions. Our own individual self-preser- vation, though certainly important, can never be our highest priority. While I work through the night, should my home be invaded and my family put in dan- ger, the thought of an officer respond- ing whose highest aim is his own safety and survival is utterly offensive. Should a society ever employ a majority of law enforcement officers whose main daily goal is their own security, that culture is doomed. As officers nationwide are trained and expected to voluntarily run into these ongoing massacres, we can never become disillusioned that there is As screaming students dash about, he rounds a corner and is immediately faced with an armed police officer mov- ing toward the sound of his gunfire. e tactical dynamics immediately shift. No longer is the killer solely a predator; he is now also prey. Even if the killer has superior weapon- ry in contrast to the officer, such as rifle vs. service pistol, the balance of power has shifted. e juvenile murderer can no longer coolly stalk and target his in- nocent, unarmed classmates because his whole attention is now consumed with of contemporary policing in America. As officers we have to ask ourselves: Could I really do that? How will I respond if I'm the first one there? Will I survive? Can I save lives? Will my training guide me? Questions such as these are normal when faced with such a dangerous task, and must be proactively addressed be- fore the moment of truth on the worst possible day. e greatest challenge for law enforce- ment first responders is how to most ef- fectively suppress the intrinsic priority of self-preservation. Within all typical humans is a desire to live on, to be safe, and to shield oneself from danger. As 21st century American law his possible demise. e mere fact of the officer's presence forces a decision. e officer being there has forever altered the dynamic. If the officer shoots the mur- derer, lives are saved. Should the officer be shot, he has bought precious seconds for other officers to flood into the school, and lives are saved. If the suspect com- mits suicide or runs and escapes, lives are saved. But no lives are saved by the officer's actions if his top priority is get- ting home to his family. As with any tactical situation, general- ly those who preplan the best, win. Ask- ing these intimate, individually personal questions of yourself and your fellow officers are necessary. When an officer finds himself in the midst of the chaos of the rampage-killing, it is not the moment to soul-search and determine his priorities and make solid choices. I greatly value and respect the thou- sands of selfless, stouthearted law enforcement officers who have asked themselves these questions and report to duty every day ready and willing to run toward the violence, even at their own peril. However, I equally honor and respect those former officers who have honestly determined they cannot rush into the chaos and now work honorably in the private sector. I firmly believe that a law enforcement officer who is trained and able to intervene in such a horrific incident and chooses not to cannot psy- chologically recover in this lifetime. I no longer sit idly by when I overhear officers in conversation noting their greatest ambition is to "go home safely." I challenge them to think of what that simple statement, while first sound- ing innocuous and noble, entails. Life is truly precious, and few people recognize that fact as do law enforcement officers. But we are called, tasked, and trained to protect and to serve. Question yourself. Know yourself. Be prepared to move to- ward the threat and save lives. H Sgt. Kory Flowers is a 19-year veteran with the Greensboro (NC) Police Department. He trains law enforcement officers nation- wide on leadership and tactical commu- nication and is a frequent contributor to POLICE Magazine. some guarantee we won't be injured or worse. What can be guaranteed is that when an armed, proactive officer is inserted into these rampage-style killings, the dy- namics are immediately altered. Imag- ine the mindset of a homicidal student, hell-bent on murder and setting a new American active killing casualty record, as he stalks the hallways of his school. He is calm, as he has premeditated his as- sault, and effortlessly moves and shoots his peers without remorse or mercy. His stress level is low, as it is certain that he has the only firearms on the property. We are called, tasked, and trained to protect and to serve. Question yourself. Know yourself. Be prepared to move toward the threat and save lives. TO GO IN

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