It is not enough to flee danger—one must run toward safety.
It seems simple, but it’s not. Panic changes a person’s ability to function in an emergency. In law enforcement, officers train for both day-to-day encounters and worst-case scenarios—and what to do when the one devolves into the other. Officers learn to recognize signs of danger and behavioral clues that foretell a fight. Training starts in the police academy, and it lasts well beyond retirement.
Here are a couple of the things I still do:
- I will fight for the restaurant seat that keeps my back to the wall so I can watch the door
- I note where the emergency exits are regardless if I’m in the air, on the ground, or underwater
- Unless I’m going above the 35th floor, I take the stairs
- I don’t carry things in my right hand if I can avoid it. It’s my gun hand even when I’m not armed
- I look at other people’s hands. Empty hands are a good start, but I also pay attention to waistbands and funny bulges under sports coats
- When driving, I keep a car length between my car and the vehicle ahead of me. One never knows when it might be necessary to peel out of traffic
- I don’t draw even with the car next to me. No sense giving anyone a clear shot. Stopping behind is best, but inching ahead of will do in a pinch. If they want to look at me, they’ll have to work for it— and chances are I’ll notice. Then? Well, see above comment…
My law enforcement friends understand my habits. In fact, they’ll try to get to the restaurant first to claim the coveted chair with the view of the door. Some of my other friends tease me—when they notice. But there’s also a group of people I make uneasy. My actions remind them that bad things do happen.
It doesn’t take much effort to improve one’s personal safety. Sadly, it isn’t always enough. If that day comes, remember to run toward safety.
His presence gave her comfort even as his heightened vigilance threatened her composure.
Beached launches January 10, 2018!