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Preventing 10 Deadly Errors: 30 Years Later

NCJ Number
FBI Law Enforcement Bulletin Volume: 75 Issue: 11 Dated: November 2006 Pages: 10-20
Joseph Petrocelli
Date Published
November 2006
11 pages
This article presents and discusses ways to avoid the "10 Deadly Errors" that have repeatedly contributed to police officer deaths, as presented in Pierce R. Brooks' book, "...Officer Down, Code 3" (1975).
One "deadly error" is failure to maintain proficiency and care of equipment. Ways to avoid this error include equipment inspections and training. A second deadly error involves improper searching and handcuffing of a suspect. The article describes proper handcuff positioning, handcuff maintenance, handcuff techniques, and search strategies. A third error is being sleepy or asleep on duty. Ways of monitoring and preventing tiredness on duty are discussed. A fourth error is relaxing too soon. This pertains to the tendency over time for officers to relax safety habits. This must be prevented through monitoring of officer routines by supervisors. A fifth error is missing danger signs. This can be avoided by keeping updated on types of hidden weapons available, current information on crimes in one's jurisdiction, taking classes on danger signs, proactive supervision, administrative planning, officer accountability, and proper preparation. A sixth error is "taking a bad position," which refers to placing vehicles and one's body in risky positions relative to the dangers posed. A seventh error is the failure to watch a suspect's hands. The article advises that a suspect's palms should be visible, so as to prevent the concealing of contraband or a small weapon. An eighth error is "tombstone courage," which involves acting instinctively to help others or perform routine duties without planning for one's own safety. A ninth error is "preoccupation," which involves being diverted mentally or physically from giving full attention to what is currently happening. The 10th error is apathy, which involves an erosion of disciplined behavior and quality of performance.