“…all I saw was beard!”

For the inaugural post of the 10-32 Solutions blog, I start with one of the reasons I got into Law Enforcement, the ability to have stories to share. If someone finds that it was worth their time to read what I’ll type out, or finds that it’s a point worth using, then I’ve done what I’m intended to do.

The early days of copping for many of us on the job meant that things used to go on that we would in no circumstances try in this day and age. Some we are glad we no longer do, some we remember fondly and wish the powers that be would let us do them again, and some we look back on with hilarity of the fun stuff that can happen when LEO’s are trying to occupy the time in a quiet shift. I used to work around a Deputy that had a beard bigger than any lumberjack, a head as big as a gorilla, and absolutely no neck. The faded anchor tattoo on his forearm spoke volumes of the days he liked to fight, and he was an absolute character to be around. Call him Deputy Beard to protect the innocent.

Deputy Beard liked practical jokes. And he was good at them. No one could ever get him back because, A) he was just too good, and B) he had a heart condition, and no one wanted to be responsible for giving him the “Big One.”  So instead of getting even, most just helped him with a new victim so everyone got to feel the experience.

Deputy Beard was off-duty and crawled into the back seat of one of the squads parked at the Sheriff’s Office one night. He lay down and got comfortable, and waited, and waited, and waited. After a while, Deputy Victim came out to her squad to go on a report call. She was focused, unlocked her squad, got in, and proceeded out of the parking lot and down the highway.

After two or three miles, Deputy Beard quietly sat up.

 “WHERE WE GOIN’?!?”

 The scream was said to be heard all the way back at the Sheriff’s Office. Deputy Victim (Who was a good sport,) said she looked back in the rearview mirror and all she could see was beard. It was really a big beard. Deputy Beard may or may not have impacted the center partition as part of his inquiry, but he did get to spend an extra couple hours in the back seat, as that’s how long it took for Deputy Victim to be willing to let him back out.

Mentally awake. It is part of something that I recited many times as a Boy Scout, and the meaning of it has stuck with me. Be curious, ask questions, and be aware of what’s going on around you. Some of this is so that young boys are encouraged to learn about the world around them. But it also was intended for young Scouts to become aware of danger, much like the situational awareness term that gets thrown around today.

Be aware of your surroundings. I can’t tell you how many times this has been drilled into me during my early years as a young Police Officer. There are reasons why the words, Mentally Awake, Situational Awareness, Condition Yellow, Head on a Swivel, and others are mentioned so often. Next time you go for a walk where you’ll see people, like a college campus, a busy city street, and so forth, look at how many people are walking on autopilot, just blindly crossing streets. Twenty years ago we would have been surprised to hear of someone killed crossing the street reading a book. Today, we only briefly pause upon hearing of someone hit by a car while texting and crossing the street to call the person a dumbass before continuing on with our own lives.

Many of us feel that we are alert. We get focused on the tasks at hand, what we are dispatched to, and focused on threats ahead of us. It is also easy for experienced shooters, officers, and protectors to become focused on certain things out of habit and to lose focus on other areas. These habits that we need to revisit every once in a while are what can lead to ambushes or getting hurt because of something overlooked. I bring this up with the humorous example of the Deputies above. There are a lot of examples of ambush that are far from funny.

It’s good to revisit awareness periodically. Stay Safe.

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