Way back when Andy Sipowitz was just a rookie walking a beat in Times Square, we authored a piece for The Police Marksman magazine titled "Complacency Quiz: Testing Your Survival IQ" (November/December, 1985).The article became one of their most requested pieces. It was such a success that The Police Marksman folks reprinted it in The Best of the Police Marksman book, and a year later Calibre Press, Inc. ran it in their Street Survival Seminar workbook. In sum and substance, the test was really a self-assessment quiz for officers to see if they might have lost that tactical edge and become complacent in their day-to-day street tactics.
Well, the days of The Police Marksman are no more, and Law Officer has emerged as the premier police publication for today's street cops and trainers alike. So, hang on to your seats sports fans, it's time for another one of those quizzes. We've updated and modified the questions for the 21st century street-dog, changed some terminology a bit and abbreviated it for space, but in essence it still addresses the three major themes of the original piece: tactics, training and physical fitness. Answer the questions honestly. It won't help a bit if you fudge on your responses. Your answers might actually surprise you.
PART 1: TACTICS
All questions require a "yes" or "no" answer. All relate to your day-to-day street practices. Keep a running score.
A perfect score is 100 points.
1. I always practice "invisible deployment" in every tactical response situation. YES add 2pts.
2. Every alarm call is an actual alarm until I prove otherwise. YES add 2 points.
3. I usually carry my flashlight, summons book or other item in my dominant hand. YES subtract 2pts.
4. I wear my body armor religiously to work every day. YES add 2pts.
5. Most often, my vest is carried in the trunk of my squad, kept at home or in my locker. YES subtract 2pts.
6. I carry extra service ammunition in my duty bag. YES add 2pts.
7. I function-check my duty pistol and inspect my magazines every day before hitting the street. YES add 2pts.
8. Jump up and down in your uniform. Do you make noises from your keys, cuffs, etc.? YES subtract 2pts.
9. I carry a second (or backup) gun. YES add 2pts.
10. I carry my off-duty gun religiously. YES add 2pts.
11. I carry a high-intensity flashlight while on duty. YES add 2pts.
12. I purchased it myself. YES add 2pts.
13. I carry two sets of handcuffs (or restraints) while on duty. YES add 2pts.
14. I always carry my ID badge or card when I carry my off-duty weapon.YES add 2pts.
15. I carry my creds where they are accessible with my reactionary (or "off") hand. YES add 2pts.
16. I frequently will not pat-down opposite sex prisoners for weapons, (when there are no officers of that same sex available) even when I have reasonable suspicion to do so. YES subtract 2pts.
17. I know, understand and am always conscious of the "color codes of awareness." YES add 2pts.
18. I understand and practice "autogenic breathing" to lessen my stress level when responding to high-risk calls. YES add 2pts.
19. I always call out with the plate number, make, model and/or occupant number on every traffic stop. YES add 2pts.
20. I take my meals (or coffee) breaks at the same time, same place every day. YES subtract 2pts.
21. I occasionally write traffic tickets with the violator in the front seat of the car with me. YES subtract 2pts.
22. On all vehicle stops, I park with a safety lane for protection from passing motorists. YES add 2pts.
23. When walking back to my vehicle from traffic stops, I return to my squad car with an eye on the violator until that car leaves the scene. YES add 2pts.
24. On occasion, I've come to work hung over, run-down or not totally alert. YES subtract 2pts.
25. I make a habit of not standing in front of any doors regardless of the type of call I'm on. YES add 2pts.
26. I always wait for back-up on domestic violence calls. YES add 2pts.
27. I monitor by listening to the argument and voices before announcing my presence at domestic violence calls. YES add 2pts.
28. During my DV response, I will follow my subject around the residence when he or she moves from room to room. YES add 2pts.
29. Prior to exiting my vehicle at the scenes of high-risk calls, I always visually scan the area for possible cover or concealment opportunities before committing myself to an entry. YES add 2pts.
30. In silent alarm responses, I always have an employee exit the building/business and walk to me rather than entering the open business on my own. YES add 2pts.
31. When conducting business checks, I always operate my vehicle with the passenger door toward the building so that cover is afforded me. YES add 2pts.
32. I sometimes exit my car to investigate a suspicious person or circumstance without first notifying the dispatcher of my location via my radio or MDT. YES subtract 2pts.
33. I occasionally will not handcuff female (or juvenile) arrestees unless they are violent. YES subtract 2pts.
34. I will occasionally handcuff misdemeanor prisoners with their hands in front of them if they appear to be calm and non-violent. YES subtract 2pts.
35. I occasionally conduct building searches or investigate open doors without waiting for backup for conveniences sake. YES subtract 2pts.
36. I sometimes will reach inside a driver's window to take a license, registration or even remove the ignition keys. YES subtract 2pts.
37. I occasionally will process or book a prisoner, or interrogate a suspect with my weapon on. YES subtract 2pts.
38. I have, on occasion, allowed a traffic violator to walk back to my car while I have remained seated. YES subtract 2pts.
39. I have, on occasion, transported a stranded motorist in the front seat of my car. YES subtract 2pts.
40. When either I, or my partner, make a tactical safety error, I (or we) take the time to discuss it with him or her. YES add 2pts.
41. Whenever I search a suspect and find a weapon, I continue the search, going by the "plus one" rule. YES add 2pts.
42. I carry my off-duty weapon on the same side and in the same type of holster as my service weapon. YES add 2pts.
43. I always handcuff arrestees before searching them. YES add 2pts.
44. I regularly check the back seat of my squad car for items left there by the last shift. YES add 2pts.
45. Prior to taking the handcuffs off a prisoner, I will always re-search him or her before placing him or her in a cell. YES add 2pts.
46. Whenever I see a suspicious vehicle, I always run an NCIC (or state) check on the plates before I get out of the squad car to investigate it. YES add 2pts.
47. Have you, within the last year, canceled a backup officer for a "routine" call that happens "every day" or because "you know the people well?" YES subtract 2pts.
48. Have you, within the last year, investigated a suspicious person or checked out a suspicious condition without first notifying your dispatcher? YES subtract 2pts.
49. Have you, within the last year, entered the scene of a frequent false alarm without waiting for a backup unit? YES subtract 2pts.
50. Have you, within the last year, either observed a weapon on a violator or in a car, or observed a concealed carry permit on a violator but failed to secure it or him "so as not to embarrass" the violator? YES subtract 2pts.
PART 2: TRAINING
51. Does your home library or bookshelf contain the last four issues of Playboy or Law Officer magazine? Do you have the last four issues of a recognized police publication in your home or office? YES add 2pts.
52. Have you attended an advanced street tactics program, or officer awareness or officer survival seminar/conference (e.g., Calibre Press, Inc., Action Target Academy, Armiger Police Training, Blackwater, TeamOne Network, NTOA, ILEETA, IALEFI, etc.)? YES add 2pts.
53. Paid for it yourself? YES add 2pts.
54. I train with my service pistol only when required to do so. YES subtract 2pts.
55. My agency trains with less-lethal force options (Taser, OC, baton and DT) at least semi-annually. YES add 2pts.
56. My agency trains in weapon retention, handcuffing and ground fighting tactics at least twice a year. YES add 2pts.
57. I have read an officer survival textbook (e.g., Defensive Living, Training at the Speed of Life, or Blood Lessons, etc.) within the last two years. YES add 2pts.
58. My department makes available to me training videos, written and/or resource material on officer safety. YES add 2pts.
59. My department makes available to me a range (and ammunition) or a firearms simulator where I can train or practice off-duty. YES add 2pts.
60. My department has accredited and certified trainers (DT, firearms, less-lethal) for consultation or remedial instruction between regular in-service training sessions. YES add 2pts.
61. I'm qualified with, and carry, a shotgun in my squad car. YES add 2pts.
62. I'm qualified with, and carry, a Taser with me. YES add 2pts.
63. I'm certified with, and carry, a tactical patrol rifle. YES add 2pts.
64. I carry a baton (ASP, Monadnock) and a chemical agent (OC or CS) on my belt. YES add 2pts.
PART 3: PHYSICAL FITNESS
65. I am a smoker.YES subtract 2pts.
66. I drink alcohol (beer, wine or a cocktail) more than twice a week. YES subtract 2pts.
67. I maintain a vigorous physical fitness program (or work out) for at least 30 minutes, three times a week. YES add 2pts.
68. I am more than 10 pounds over my ideal weight. YES subtract 2pts.
69. I have had a complete physical examination within the past five years. YES add 2pts.
70. I maintain a healthy diet (low fat, high fiber). YES add 2pts.
71. My department has mandatory physical fitness standards and provides (or pays for membership in) a workout facility for our officers. YES add 2pts.
72. I consider the three basic nutritional food groups to be nicotine, caffeine and alcohol. YES subtract 2pts.
73. My department trains in night fire firearms scenarios (low or dim light) and tactical stress courses at least twice a year. YES add 2pts.
SCORING THE TEST
85-100 points: Excellent
Congratulations. You will most likely make retirement and enjoy a long life of luxurious pension living.
70-84 points: Good
You'll probably make it to 20 years, but it might be a good idea to think about putting in for a day job. Maybe the Planning & Research Unit or Records Division needs some help.
51-69 points: Fair
We strongly suggest you begin to seriously consider a change in careers. Teach yoga, sell insurance or learn basket weaving in your spare time.
Under 51 points: Poor
Friend, you've been living on borrowed time. Consider yourself a statistic and get the hell out of police work, now!
The questions contained in the Complacency Quiz are just a few of the countless questions you should be asking yourself on the issues of officer survival and safety. While we took a tongue-in-cheek approach to the four grading categories, the test is meant to make you think about your survival IQ.
If you didn't do as well as you thought you would, consider talking to your training supervisor or agency instructors about getting more training in officer safety/survival skills, or look into attending an outside officer survival program. Then again, you may want to look inward, too, at your attitude toward the job and more specifically, toward officer safety and survival. Only you know how prepared you are mentally, emotionally and physically, should an armed or potentially deadly force confrontation happen to you. Remember: Tomorrow is a new day and a new chance to learn, train and win.