Ready to Start
“Be quick, but don’t hurry” – John Wooden
This is one of our favorite quotes here at Command Presence. It has application in many law enforcement activities. So many times, police officers (we?) have ended up making decisions or taking action when they hurried their response. Today, though, we would like to focus this concept on another area – shift prep.
In most agencies today, shortages in personnel have made shift change activities frantic at best. Many shifts start with calls holding, people held over from the previous shift, and demands from supervisors for folks to get on the road. We recognize this reality, we’ve lived this reality. Calls must be answered, our partners must be relieved so they can go home, and supervisors need people on patrol.
But there is a troubling trend that we have also seen. Some officers are unwilling to do any shift prep until they are on the clock and getting paid. We get it. The truth is there should be enough people and enough time for this daily chore to be done on-duty. Many resist completing these tasks off-duty because they believe it sends the wrong message to the administration – that there is no need for additional personnel.
We would propose that taking this stance may negatively impact officer safety. And not only your officer safety, but the safety of your brothers and sisters as well.
First, your officer safety could be compromised. When no shift prep is done prior to the beginning of the official shift it often results in the officer rushing through the process. When we rush, things are missed, overlooked, or just plain forgotten.
Finally, the safety of your fellow officers could be compromised. How many times has Ol’ Murph reared his ugly head right at shift change? One of the few officers still on the road encounters a bad guy, a really bad guy, who wants to cause the officer harm. Since it’s shift change, there is no one immediately available to assist. So, what do good-intentioned officers do when they hear the call for help? They respond, of course. Often by running code and many times without a check of the vehicle. Tires, windows, engine, etc. – no check is done, and the vehicle reliability is not confirmed. We need to get there to help, but we have to get there. If the vehicle breaks down or if the officer is part of an accident because of a mechanical failure the result is the same – the officer in need doesn’t get the help that they need.
Being ready to go when our shift starts is part of being a professional. The professional is ready for whatever may happen when it’s time to go. Ensuring that our way to get somewhere will actually get us where we want to go is basic but often overlooked or done haphazardly. Spend the time up front for better results when it’s actually needed.