You are on your own

This is who is coming to save you - you better prepare yourself

One of the most chllenging aspects that I find in training new police officers is to get them out of their 'normalcy bias'. Most cops come from relatively stable, solid middle-class households. They have a preset list of mores, standards, and ethics. Many are shocked to find that others don't share those. Yes, it is true - if as a police officer you are sent to a domestic dispute with a traditional Hispanic or Asian family for example, you damn well better address the head of household first, just briefly - even if he is the aggressor. Otherwise you'll be fighting everyone in the area including the women and children. Why? By failing to address the head of the house, you just disrespected a fundamental value that is essential to them. They don't think like you. It's not wrong - it's just different than what you think. A difficult thing is getting out of your comfort zone - but you must understand not everyone thinks like you do - or values what you value. Sometimes people are not just 'fronting' ... they really are ready to kill you.

Normalcy bias doesn't just effect police officers - we all engage in it to some extent. We make assumptions about other people's behavior because we expect what we see on a regular basis. If not, we couldn't drive at 50 mph on a two way road - we trust that the other drivers will stay in their lane. But we must be alert and watch for warning signs. If you see an oncoming car ahead swerving into your lane, you would take some sort of action to reduce the risk of a crash. Likewise when an individual is displaying warning signs, don't dismiss them.

No one is coming to save you

  I’ve never met Greg Ellifritz ( , despite our starting our law enforcement careers at roughly the same time. Both of us came up in different environments - he was in a large city police department, while I work small rural areas. We have both been trainers for our own departments, surrounding departments, for each of our respective state level academies in addition to training privately. I haven’t yet had the opportunity to take any of his classes. We have communicated and I find him to be a gracious and open person who I greatly respect and have learned a tremendous amount from. Even though I don’t agree with everything he says I find that we have similar perspectives in many areas, and I find him to be a wealth of knowledge and experience that I value.  No doubt learned from someone else and supported by his own experience, he has said for years “No one is coming to save you - you are on your own”. He supports this thesis with an amazing amount of failures by officers within law enforcement.  This example is another such failure. 


Bodycam Shows Man Attacking Officer in Youngstown Police Department’s lobby 

  While I usually give the benefit of the doubt in police "use of force" situations to the officer on scene, in this instance, the officer had every opportunity to plan the encounter. There was no exigency. There was no limited lighting, no other actors, no one was in danger. There was no ambiguity. There was an aggressive person looking for a fight, on the other side of a locked and bullet-proof door. As the officer (unwisely) opens the door at the 2:45 mark, the individual even tells him "call someone right the f now".  Rather than requesting additional officers, preparing an encounter on his own terms, or even being ready -  this unprepared officer appears to have let his ego make decisions.  

  Why do I share this? As Greg has said … “This is who is coming to save you. You are on your own”. It's no secret that interest in a career as a police officer has plummeted.  Consequently many areas have lowered standards to dangerous levels just to get bodies in uniforms. There was even discussion in Massachusetts about lowering the fitness requirements to the 30th percentile Cooper Standards for academy entrance.  If a uniformed officer with all his tools, other officers nearby, inside a locked police station cannot handle this incident, how will they save you?

  This person chose a police department to engage in violence - what if he knocked on your door, or approached you out in public? Don't think that can happen to you? Active Self Protection channel on YouTube (103) Active Self Protection - YouTube is full of everyday exmaples of just that happening.  Violent crime has drastically increased with no sign of tapering, mental health issues are skyrocketing, substance abuse is rampant -  you have to be prepared to deal with someone like this. Learn de-escalation skills, talk to people, learn how to back out of a situation. Don’t let your ego cost you your life. And if those de-escalation tactics fail ... be prepared to go to work. Absolutely, confidently, and without reservation – make no mistake, if you are in a street fight you are in a fight for your life and need to be prepared.  


Want to learn more? Take our Introduction to Defensive Sprays or the  Defensive Handgun – Level 1 to learn tactics that you can use when de-escalation fails.