Just mere life is not victory, just mere death is not defeat.

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Polish that Badge

Two days ago, rookie officer Tara O'Sullivan, laid dying in a backyard during a domestic disturbance call, the other officers could not get to her because there was a barricaded subject with a rifle who had shot her and was keeping other officers from getting to her.  As of this article, it is not clear if she was killed immediately by rifle fire or if she died at the hospital later on.  All reports that were searched in research for this article say that she died at the hospital after being transported.  Officer O'Sullivan laid in the backyard for 30 minutes before a swat armored vehicle could come by and provide cover for her extraction.  During those 30 minutes, it is not immediately clear what the officers on scene did or did not do, but we know that for those 30 minutes officer O'Sullivan laid alone, and mortally wounded.

Every police department should provide wounded officer recovery training.  Every police department should provide equipment to facilitate such an extraction.  This needs to happen because the moment it does not several things may occur, one of the worst outcomes is that an officer dies as a result of inaction by other officers, or supervisors, on scene due to policy limitations or obfuscations.  In the event of an officer's death in these circumstances, if it can determined that the officer would have survived, given immediate extraction and medical attention, then the resulting windfall should solely rest on the shoulders of that police department's top brass.  As we do not know if that is the case here I will save my harsh criticism of them for whenever that is determined. 

This is one of those circumstances were the clock is against you, it requires immediate action in order to potentially save an officers life.  That means there needs to be swift and calculated action in order to do so.  What does all this mean?  The officers, and supervisors, on scene needed to think outside the box.  I do not know if Sacramento PD has any policy on downed/wounded officer extraction, but after this incident they had better develop some, and equip their officers effectively to that end, because the sit there and wait for swat thing never, ever, works.  Think about Columbine, think about Stoneman Douglas.  Sit and wait doesn't work, get in there and do something. 

To assimilate a line I heard from Bill Rapier and many others who have been in bad situations, sometimes you just need to polish up that badge, and officer the fuck up.  So what if the guy is shooting at you, there's a dying officer who could not help herself, it was time act outside the box immediately.  Drive a car into his house, send a team in one end and while they are engaging him rescue the downed officer.  Do as the LEO's who were hunting Christopher Dorner did and burn the house he's in to the ground.  Commandeer the closest heavy truck you can find and drive it directly into the line of fire, or have every officer on scene cadence shoot at the barricaded subject while a team approaches and extracts the wounded officer.  Something, anything, is better than just sitting there and doing nothing.

Where were the shields? Where were the rifle equipped officer's taking shots back at the barricaded subject?  Smoke? Up-armored patrol vehicles?  One of the things the top police administrators need to understand is that waiting for an officer to be killed in the line of duty is not and never has been the appropriate time for change.  How much would it cost to buy a ballistic shield and equip every vehicle with at least one, and train officer's to use them? Less than the payout officer O'Sullivan's family will be getting and total funeral costs, that is for sure.  An officer's life is worth this investment and when the top administrators of a police department refuse to do these things, it is tantamount to a deliberate act of negligence.

For the LEO's who frequent this site, and I am grateful there are many as I get your emails and DM's, please think outside the box on these types of situations.  Officer safety does not end at your nose or the end of your shift, it extends to every single one of our coworkers and it is something which cannot ever be left to others to do for you or in your place.  If your PD's policy is such that it requires you to sit there and wait for specially equipped teams to show up before anything is done, especially in this type of situation, you should use your personal judgement to do what is ethical.  I remember reading that there were officer's during Stoneman Douglas who went in they and were disciplined for it.  I would frame that disciplinary paperwork on my wall, because not going in, as I wrote ad nauseum in several articles is the equivalent of losing your honor.  Speak to your coworkers, your supervisors, and if your chief is smart they already have an open door policy, but you should go and talk to him/her.  Stress the need for training of this particular nature, stress the need for equipment.

If you are a LEO who takes training seriously, do yourself a favor and buy yourself a ballistic shield, buy an overt plate carrier and a decent helmet, take it with you to work and have it just in case, same for a rifle if your department allows.  You will find that having it and not needing it is vastly better than needing it and not having it.  We are responsible to be prepared for these types of situations, there are no acceptable excuses.

Officer O'Sullivan had only six months of street work under her belt, she was still a rookie and had an entire career to experience.  Her life mattered, and more may have been done to save her.  We must learn from her sacrifice so that other officers may survive, this however, only happens through training and proper mindset.