Speed kills. I don’t know where or how this phrase originated but I have probably heard it a thousand times over the course of my career. I’m sure you’ve heard it at least as many times as well but it still remains sound advice and applies to more than just driving. Each year officers are lost; both killed or forced to resign, due to excessive speed while performing a wide range of duties. I recently had the opportunity to attend training with renowned law enforcement training John Bostain, owner of Command Performance (www.commandperformance.net). During that training, John explained the dangers of speed and how it applies to more than just driving.

The first area of concern when it comes to speed is driving. It should come as no surprise that traffic accidents remain the leading cause of death among law enforcement officers. What probably will surprise you is the type of call which accounts for these deaths – responding to an officer needs assistance.

Yes, this is a priority call. Yes, you need to get there and you need to get there NOW. A brother/ sister officer is in danger and needs your help. But the key is getting there. If you have an accident responding not only did you not provide the back up your fellow officer needs you have also diverted additional resources which may have been headed there as well.

The next area of concern is waiting for back up. Statistics show that lone officers are far more likely to be a victim of excessive force by a suspect than those who are part of a multiple officer response. It doesn’t take a genius to figure out why lone officers make softer targets.

I understand that some calls can’t wait and that there is an inherent danger to every call. However, the vast majority of calls are not able to be put on hold for a few minutes while the first units waits for assistance. So why is this a problem? It boils down to going too fast. Instead of waiting for help too many officers disregard warning signs and rush into situations solo.

If back up is available, even if it is from another department or agency, you should probably consider using it more often.

Finally, there is the matter of over stepping our authority. No, this not usually a life and death situation but it has ruined too many careers to be ignored. Unfortunately, it also becomes a bigger problem than ever before, due in part to everyone videotaping our actions and putting them on display for the world to see. Everyone makes mistakes but having those mistakes plastered on YouTube is the quickest way to end up pumping gas for a living.

In many of these situations, the officer did not intend to do anything wrong but they were caught up in the event and allowed their emotions to get the best of them. They then made rash, unsupported decisions, decisions the public react negatively too and the brass is unable to justify.


To avoid this speed accident you need to understand your authority and apply it appropriately. Do not let the suspect bait you into a fight when it is not warranted or provoke you into threatening action which you will never be able to carry out. Doing otherwise is likely to result in avoidable escalation or unjustified actions on your part and both turn the suspect into a victim and you into the defendant.

As John repeated throughout the training there is a difference between quick and hurried. Quick is deliberate and controlled while hurried is haphazard and dangerous. You need to find the line between quick and hurried.

Stay safe! Return home after every shift safe AND sound both physically and professionally.

Disclaimer: The content in this article is the opinion of the writer and does not necessarily reflect the policies or opinions of US Patriot Tactical.

Tom Burrell

Tom Burrell

Tom enlisted in the US Marine Corps Reserves in 1987. Following service in Desert Storm, he transitioned to active duty with the US Coast Guard. In 1997 he left the USCG to pursue a position in conservation & maritime law enforcement. Tom is currently a Captain and he oversees several programs, including his agency investigation unit. He is also a training instructor in several areas including firearms, defensive tactics and first aid/CPR. In 2006 Tom received his Associate’s Degree in Criminal Justice from Harrisburg Area Community College and in 2010 a Bachelor’s Degree from Penn State University.
Tom Burrell

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