Sending Them Out to Play in Traffic

Detective BadgeIt was my first week back in Detective Bureau.  I was getting a slice with some of the guys when I got a call from my lieutenant.  “Yeah, Boss?”  “You better check on Wheaten and Milner; they requested uniformed back-up,” he said.  Day two in DB and I hadn’t even programmed all the investigators’ numbers into my phone.  Figured.  “Right away, Boss.”

Just before lunch, Wheaten told me he and Milner were going to interview and arrest a grand theft suspect for whom he had probable cause at a particular nursing home.  At least I knew where they were.  I reached Milner on the phone.  “All good?”  She said, “We got in a fight, but have just a few scrapes.”  “Okay, see me back in the Bay.”

I spent seven years as a plain-clothed detective.  It never escaped me that I had traded in a ballistic vest for a silk tie.  As a dick, you arrest the same bad people, but have fewer tools at your disposal than a road officer.  Your empty hand techniques and officer safety awareness need to be better than average.  Good training and mindset are critical.

I met my folks back at the office to write up some injury reports.  Fortunately, we could joke because the damage was minor–an abrasion to Milner’s neck and shoulder and a contusion to Wheaten’s forehead.  Milner was scratched during the scuffle with the felony suspect.  Wheaten’s noggin got slammed into some drywall.

I had supervised both of these new detectives as patrol officers when we were on Midnight Shift.  I like them, respect them, and was glad that their injuries were slight.  Still, it is akin to sending your kids out to play in traffic every day.  I worry about their safety.

Having transitioned from the road to detectives to the road and back again, I have a greater appreciation for the officer safety challenges facing the new generation of gumshoes.  (That seemed antithetical.)  I advocate our guys and gals be alert, decisive, and harsh in confrontations while wearing “business casual attire.”  Without all the tools of a police duty belt, your options during a collar are reduced, as is your margin for error.  Train smart and stay safe.


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One Response to Sending Them Out to Play in Traffic

  1. Aaron E says:

    In the last few years we have mandated detectives to wear throw over ballistic vests with pocketed carriers for the other tools when they are going to be making arrests. Any officer who is making an arrest (especially when they know in advance) should have all their tools – particularly their ballistic vests.

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