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Surviving Hostile Encounters: A Veteran Officer's View

NCJ Number
FBI Law Enforcement Bulletin Volume: 75 Issue: 3 Dated: March 2006 Pages: 10-12
Scott D. Burns
Date Published
March 2006
3 pages
This article discusses ways in which police officers can safeguard/protect themselves from suspects whose actions can turn into a hostile/violent encounter.
A police officer can never anticipate every action a suspect might take. For this reason, training is critical in the patrol setting where the unexpected is always a given. To safeguard themselves from suspects whose behavior or actions can change instantly, officers need to be trained in how to survive a potentially hostile encounter. An officer must learn to watch a person’s hands, to avoid verbal triggers, to use communication and observation skills, to keep updated on the laws and departmental policies and procedures on use of force, to maintain control of the environment, and to hold regular formal and informal training sessions with fellow officers. Through the eyes and experiences of a veteran officer, this article attempts to provide safety tips for officers which entail watching body language, the art of effective communication, the identification of substance use and mental illness, to never underestimate the individual/suspect, and continuous ongoing training.