I just returned from the National Shooting Sports Foundation s (NSSF) SHOT Show, and it was a fantastic event. A huge section of the showroom floor is dedicated to law enforcement equipment an area that gets bigger every year. Despite this lagging economy, law enforcement exhibit space grew significantly.
Not surprisingly, a lot of cops were in attendance. Recognizing this, we partnered with the NSSF to offer law enforcement training on the eve and morning of the show opening. The offerings included presentations on active shooters, the combat mindset, duty gear placement, drawing effectively and risk avoidance. We were extremely pleased with the turnout. We had to add chairs to many of the sessions, and, overall, we had hundreds in attendance. Considering this was in Las Vegas and the training lasted until 9:30 p.m., followed by early morning sessions, this is nothing short of amazing.
The comments from those in attendance were really encouraging. Example: These seminars were excellent, said Mark Richards, Bergenfield (N.J.) PD. The educational part of the SHOT Show made it that much better.
The bottom line: We were very encouraged by the response to our first effort, and we re going to work very hard at putting together a great program for next year.
While at SHOT, we took the opportunity to formally present the Law Officer Gold Badge of Service Award to Streamlight Inc. As I explained in my November 2009 Editor's Note, Streamlight has been tremendously supportive of Concerns of Police Survivors (COPS). COPS is one of our favorite groups and truly does more to support the families of fallen officers than any other group. It was good to thank Streamlight in person what a great company and a great bunch of people!
Set the Example
Speaking of great companies, Safariland continued its recognition of officers saved by body armor with the presentation of awards to Det. Jared Reston of the Jacksonville (Fla.) Sheriff s Office, Missouri State Trooper Cody Dunfee and Jason Thomas of the Cedar City (Utah) PD. All three of these officers have very dramatic stories, but I was particularly struck by the stories of Reston and Thomas, because the events leading up to their near-death encounters were so incredibly routine the very nature of them would cause many officers to groan. Thomas was helping a motorist stuck in the snow and Reston was working at the mall handling a shoplifting incident. It doesn't get much more routine than these two calls.
Reston and Thomas were just doing their jobs when they were attacked by assailants intent on killing them. Both were struck multiple times by rounds that could have killed them. Obviously, the outcome would have been very different if not for their body armor. They are alive today because they made the choice to wear their armor and because they had the proper mindset when they were attacked.
fter the Safariland ceremony, I had a chance to talk with the officers and learned that they both wear their vests every time they don their uniforms. They consider their armor to be part of their uniform and equipment. This is the attitude that all officers must have: Body armor cannot work if it s in your trunk or hanging on the seat beside you. Unfortunately, many officers seem to think they will have an opportunity to don the armor when they need it. This is a fool s logic, a point these incidents make clear. When these officers first engaged in these calls again, a shoplifter and a motorist assist there was no advance warning that they would be fighting for their lives in the blink of an eye.Your body armor must go on every time your badge does.
Today s body armor is so much better than the thick unwieldy vests that I first saw more than 30 years ago. Properly fit, armor can become such a regular piece of your apparel that you learn to function as if it isn't there. The key is to wear it every day so it becomes a part of you, just like your socks and shoes. Unfortunately, some experts estimate the percentage of non-vest wearers to be as high as 40%. We must work to change this. It's the responsibility of every trainer and supervisor to set a proper example.
The interviews conducted with the officers at SHOT are compelling, informative and make the case for why reluctant officers should wear their vest if not for themselves, then for those they work with and care about. The videos would be excellent training to show at a briefing, so check out all three a www.LawOfficer.com.
Dale Stockton, Editor in Chief