As the tragedy unfolds in Tuscon, take the time to prepare yourself and your family so that you can fulfill you role as a law enforcement officer. When the shooting starts, we attack. Photo AP
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In the fall of 2010, my husband and I realized a decade long dream of owning a home in Tucson, Ariz. Having endured Midwest winters my entire life, I was thrilled our family would be spending the holidays enjoying warm weather in the city where my husband, Dave “JD Buck Savage” Smith, began his police career.
Just two days before Thanksgiving, my 16-year-old daughter and I drove to the Safeway grocery store just south of our new home. In typical teenage fashion, she teased me about carrying not one, but two off-duty guns.
“Mom, aren’t you being a little paranoid?” (Insert eye-roll here)
“It’s called preparation, not paranoia.” I reminded her. “And besides, everybody in Arizona has a gun.”
This weekend when we learned of the horrific Arizona shooting spree that killed six and wounded at least 13 others, I pointed out to her that it had occurred at the same grocery store we had visited.
She said, “I’ll bet you wish you had been there today, Mom.” And you know what? I really wish I had been.
Most of us don’t carry an off-duty weapon with the hope that we walk into an active shooter situation. But let’s face it, we’re cops. We run toward the shots, on- or off-duty, and we need to be prepared to do so.
No one can predict the acts of a random nutcase like Jared Lee Loughner. But, no doubt, as he stood in the line waiting for his turn to talk to Congresswoman Giffords, he displayed non-verbal behavior that your average crime-fighter may have picked up on. Ask yourself, am I as aware of other people’s behavior when I’m on my own time as I am when I’m at work?
Although an open event like “Congress on Your Corner” is likely to draw more than a few innocuous odd balls, an off-duty police officer who’s mentally and physically prepared for such an encounter might have noticed Loughner’s behavior and positioned themselves to--if not prevent--at least stop the rampage before so many were shot.
We live in a time of political upheaval where emotions run high and logic is often kicked to the curb. Arizona is a state that has been unafraid to take on many sensitive issues, including citizen firearm carry. Basically, any legal gun-owning adult citizen in Arizona has the right to openly carry a hand gun, and according to published reports, Arizona law enforcement is well-educated as to the legality of this right.
As my students will tell you, I’m a fanatic about off-duty survival. But I encourage them to take it one step further; as law enforcement officers we are, as Lt. Col. Dave Grossman says, “….walking the warriors path.” I believe that we have a moral obligation as warriors to be prepared to do what warriors do best, and that is to protect our fellow citizens from the evil that preys upon our society.
Think about the last errand you ran on your personal time, whether you went to the bank, picked up your kid at school, dropped of the dry cleaning or stopped by your local grocery store to grab a gallon of milk. Were you prepared to encounter a guy like Jared Lee Loughner, whose intent was to create carnage in your neighborhood? If the answer’s no, do what you need to do to get, and keep, yourself and those around you ready for anything. It’s our privilege, as well as our obligation, as law enforcement officers.