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

Search The Knowledge

Don't tell me to "be safe"

One of my earliest memories after getting on the law enforcement job was going to a roll call during a period of fewer than normal numbers of officers working.  We had reduced numbers for various reasons but the two biggest were vacations and retirements.  I remember being there with one other officer when a very old time supervisor came in and told us that it's just us two for a few hours and that we should "be safe".

That was a long time ago, but I never forgot when he said.  I wasn't there to be safe, per se, I was there to do the job, and that means handling whatever call comes out or whatever another officer generated.  Being safe wasn't the goal, doing what needed to be done regardless of the circumstances was the mission.  If that meant responding to an active killer situation or a violent domestic in progress, that's the name of the game and nowhere in there does being safe come into play.  If I wanted to be safe, I wouldn't have taken the job, I wouldn't have come to work, hell, I wouldn't have left my house.

There are many different equivalents to this, "stay safe" for example is another one.  There are circumstances that are simply impossible to guarantee the safety of everyone involved, especially yourself if you choose to act in such a manner as to put yourself into harm's way.  Now, this doesn't mean that those doing the law enforcement job do so knowing they may be killed at any moment and that if they are that's baked into the cake.  A lot of jobs are dangerous, this article isn't exactly about LEO's specifically, it is about the concept of "be safe" versus the concept of "stay dangerous."

musashi already dead quote

The time to be safe is before you even consider the remote possibility of being involved in something which is dangerous.  It is then that you decide that you need to train for, to prepare for, to understand the possibilities of, the orders of effects of your actions and the ends they may cause.  Once you understand what is required of you in order to survive such an occurrence you need to go out of your way to make sure you are ready for what may happen.  That does not mean you will be ready for everything, it just means you will be as prepared as you can be given your current circumstances and level of training.  You work on being more ready every single day, by killing your clone, by getting direct instruction from vetted instructors, and by carrying your tools.  Developing your mindset and understanding of what the mission is will greatly aid your ability to be violent, to be a dangerous person. 

While this is very much a requirement to understand for LEOs, it is also very applicable to responsible armed citizens.  At any moment, regardless of your profession, you may find yourself in a direct fight for the lives of others or your own.  There is no shortage of online videos showing citizen deadly force encounters, as well as, LEO's involved in deadly force use.  There is nothing safe about these circumstances and understanding that you may find yourself in these very situations at any moment is the first step.

Thinking you're dangerous is different than having the skill to be dangerous...                          -The Northman

Whenever I have the opportunity to teach a small group or get boots to train at work, I always try to provide the same level of mindset to them, as they are the most receptive to it.  The small group because they volunteered to come out and train, and the boot because they are going to experience the very circumstances which will confirm these concepts nearly immediately.  Two main points are always brought up here, first to be able to apply violence without hesitation, and second to consider that you may have to apply that violence at any moment to anyone around you.  There are a ton of concepts that fall into these two points, most of which are best-explained face to face by a competent purveyor of proper mindset, but the overarching understanding of violence and living daily as a dangerous person are universal.

The LEO who starts their shift thinking they need to be safe will act in such a manner as to put their safety first, and while that is important it is not always the mission.  Just as the responsible armed citizen may go about their day normally until something occurs which requires them to put themselves in danger of being hurt or killed.  For the LEO, a dangerous situation is potentially around every single stop sign, every single red light, every single call, every single coffee break, every single minute of a LEO's shift they are a target.  This is the first lesson of officer safety I teach my boots, and that is hopefully taught in most academies in the US.  Every citizen, regardless of their age, color, or creed, is a potential target for the criminal element in our society.  How many citizens have been shot inside stores, or just walking down the street?  Poor or wealthy, it doesn't really matter, does it?  We are all possible targets for violence by others looking to gain from our pain.  If you are not thinking offensively, in a feeder perspective, you are volunteering to be a victim, all in the name of being safe.

The paradigm of nomenclature needs to change and with it the way we think about how we go about our daily lives.  How we start our shift, how we answer a call, how we leave our house, how we go to the store, and the tools we carry for these purposes.  What we do to prepare for those circumstances that require us to use violence against another to save our lives or the lives of others from serious injury and, or, death.  Remember that the things we say, and the things we are told may affect us differently given various situations.  If you are constantly thinking about being safe you may miss an opportunity to be victorious in a violent confrontation.  Violence of action is always better than being on the defensive.  Next time someone tells you to "be safe" tell them to "stay dangerous" as you may put them in the correct mindset for that moment, and possibly start the wheels of thought moving towards the right direction.