For those of us that have been in the military, we will never forget the phrase that was drilled into our heads almost every single day, “complacency kills.” Such a short phrase that holds so much meaning and relevance to our every day job as police officers. Complacency takes on many forms and appears in almost every single thing we do. From outfitting our belts properly, to making sure the shotgun in the rack has the proper rounds in it, we must never become complacent with even the most menial, day-to-day tasks.
Let us take into account making sure the shotgun in your vehicle has the correct rounds in it. You may go years in this profession (all depending on the jurisdiction in which you work) without ever needing to shoulder the shotgun in your vehicle. Ultimately, that does not matter, whatsoever. We, as law enforcement officers, need to go into every single work day, expecting to have to use every single tool we have been blessed to carry. If we begin to show complacency towards certain tasks and duties, we will become non-proficient in these areas. Non-proficiency leads to mistakes; mistakes lead to injuries and, God forbid, death. Despite whether or not you have ever had to shoulder the shotgun in your vehicle for a “real life” situation, you must check, every single shift, for deficiencies in that weapon system. You have no idea what happened in that vehicle the shift prior that may not have been relayed to your shift and, therefore, may have caused a change in the status of that vehicle’s assigned weapon. The last thing you want to happen, is to have to rely on that weapon, only to figure out that it is not properly outfitted for your situation.
Another area in which some officers become complacent is their radio traffic. It is imperative that all radio traffic is clear, concise, complete and ACCURATE. Location, location, location. This should always be the first thing stated on a run. ALWAYS. Situations can go from normal to “what the f***!” in no time, flat. In those stressful situations, you will not have to worry about calling out your location (unless the location is ever-changing) if it has already been done. You will call for assistance and dispatch will have already recorded your location and will take on the duty of relaying that to responding officers.
I urge you to evaluate one of your duty days, from the very beginning until the very end. Find an area in which you have become complacent. Change that area and erase the complacency. Find another, and do the same.
Remember, complacency kills, but we are ultimately in control of it.