“I don’t think there’s anything more offensive than our officers dying on the streets,” said Sgt. Betsy Brantner Smith, as she opened her class at the seventh annual International Law Enforcement Trainers and Educators Association (ILEETA) Conference.
The class, titled “It Can Happen to You,” was focused on off-duty carry and preparedness.
“We must expect the unexpected,” says Smith. The only difference between being on duty and off duty is that when officers are on duty “we go to calls. When we’re off duty, the calls come to us.”
Smith, a 29-year law enforcement veteran and the lead instructor for the Calibre Press “Street Survival for Women" seminar, pointed out the statistic that approximately 16% of officer murders occur off duty.
What should officers do? Consider the following:
- Preparedness and mindset: The things you notice off duty should be the same things you notice on duty.
- Revenge threats: There’s a war on cops. And many off-duty incidents are personal. Be aware of pre-attack postures. Remember: assessment, acceptance, preparation and prevention. Of those four things, prevention is the most important.
- Off-duty attire: What you wear will impact your awareness.
- Off-duty weapons: Know what to carry, where to carry it and always have enough ammo.
- Responding to the uniforms: Uniform trumps plainclothes—always.
- Values and resolutions: Are you ever really "off duty?" No. Should you be paranoid? No. But you must always be prepared.
- Family: Ensure your spouse, children and other family members know how to call dispatch. Practice specific scenarios, and teach your family to understand and respond to commands. That way, if a situation occurs while you’re off duty and your son, daughter or spouse happens to be there with you, they’ll understand what you’re communicating and how to follow your lead. Finally, make sure you have a will.
You must be able to answer “yes” to the following questions:
- Am I mentally prepared for the unexpected?
- Is my equipment accessible?
- Has proper training taken place?
If you answer “no” to any of these questions, reassess and readjust. And remember this: Courage is how you control your fear.
For more information about Betsy Brantner Smith, visit www.femaleforces.com.