A Montgomery police officer shot last week during a routine traffic stop has died.
A "routine" traffic stop? Obviously not. One thing that I always tried to pound into recruits’ heads when I taught defensive tactics at the police academy was that there is no such thing as a "routine" traffic stop. Police officers have to be prepared at all times for anything that can happen.
We tried to teach them to use something we called "if/then" thinking, but it’s not just for cops, and it’s not just about life and death situations. All of us would be better off and avoid a lot of grief in our lives if we routinely considered the possible outcomes whenever we were about to go into a situation and formulated a plan for responding to possible consequences of our involvement.
In police work, when we encounter danger, we usually must decide — in a split second — whether to retreat, attack, or do something else. Knowing which response is most appropriate when can mean the difference between living and dying, between keeping or losing your job, between losing everything you have in a lawsuit or coming out with your career, finances and health intact.
The decisions that civilians face each day often don’t have to be decided quite as instantaneously, and usually have less immediately dire consequences — but long term, those decisions (whether to stay in school or drop out, whom to marry, which job to accept, whether to put your kids in daycare or stay home to raise them yourself) can have an enormous long term impact on both you and others.
Too many folks treat the big decisions in their lives as if they were walking up on a "routine" traffic stop.