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  • Rowan

5 habits I learned from being cop that will make you harder to kill

Updated: Nov 13, 2023

Carrying a gun and learning how to use it effectively is great, but the best way to keep yourself safe is to ensure that you never have to use a firearm in the first place. As a patrol cop, I learned some important habits to help keep me safe. These things are often taught as "officer safety" tips but they can certainly apply to your regular life.

When you are driving and come to a stop make sure you have a way out. When you stop behind another car make sure to leave enough space to pull around that car if you had to. A good rule of thumb is to make sure you can see the bottom of the rear tires of the car in front of you. This should usually give you enough space. As a cop this was both to make sure I had a place to go in case of an ambush but also so I could turn on my lights and sirens and pull around traffic if needed. In normal life that won't apply but it does give you an avenue of escape if a car is going to rear-end you or if someone jumps out in an act of road rage.

Avoid smiling men in white vans, this guy clearly can't be trusted

If you do conceal carry, do your best to keep your gun hand free. As a cop, everything you carry goes in your off hand - flashlight, ticket book, duty bag, whatever. This is to make sure your gun hand is always free if you need to draw your weapon. In police academy we were punished with plenty of pushups if we were caught carrying something in our gun hand. My wife knows that I like to walk on her right side so my right hand is free and if I'm carrying groceries or something it always goes in my left hand.

Don't stand in front of doorways. Whenever I knocked on a door in uniform I considered the possibility of bullets being fired through the door at me. Even for something totally innocuous, the reality is I never knew who was behind the door, and how they might react. For all I knew the homeowner I was trying to get in touch with over their lost mail was a wanted felon hiding from law enforcement. Knock and stand to the side and always know where you might go if things go south. Also, pay attention to which way the door opens. Standing on one side means you are immediately visible as is the person in the house, while the other side puts the door between you and the occupant.

Don't answer the door at 3 am. It seems people have this weird plan of grabbing their gun to go answer the door in the middle of the night. Nothing says you need to accept visitors at 3 am. There is nothing wrong with talking through the door or getting a good look at whoever is there from a window or other vantage point. There is a non-zero chance the person at your door is a night shift cop trying to let you know something has happened to your property or something else innocent. Answering the door with a shotgun in hand is not going to end well for anyone.

Does this look like someone you want to talk to at 3am at your door?

Whenever cops sit at a restaurant or other establishment we like to face the entrances and know our exits. I still scan everyone who walks in where ever I am. Knowing who is coming and going and knowing where potential exits are is important. Especially in public places with lots of people, it is good to know alternate exits other than the door you used to enter. If there is ever a fire or violent incident people will panic and tend to herd towards a single doorway. Knowing where emergency exits are can be vital to avoid crowd crush situations or simply giving you a way out of a potentially unsafe situation.

Stay safe out there!

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