In the Line of Duty – Part Two – The Citizen

I left on in the last post with a final comment on what we, both as officers and as citizens, can do about the deaths of our law enforcement.

What can we do? Quite a bit, actually.

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As a citizen, you are the eyes and ears of your police department.  You are an extra line of defence against those who would do harm and you make a huge difference when it comes to crime prevention.  Block Watch and Citizens Crime Watch (a personal favourite of mine) are two programs the VPD runs with great success, and I’ve been to more than a few in-progress calls generated by alert citizens.

What I ask if this – if you see something suspicious, call it in.  Depending on where you live and on the situation, you should call either 911 (if it’s an emergency or an incident requiring an immediate police response) or your local police agency’s non-emergency number.  If something does not seem right, it probably isn’t.

I also ask that you do something if you see an officer in trouble. Jump in and help (if you can), direct traffic, hold the crowd back, call 911, be a good witness – do anything to help the officer.

There’s nothing more reassuring than to know someone out there is on our side when the proverbial you-know-what hits the fan.

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A few weeks ago, a Victoria police officer attended a convenience store for a theft report. Upon leaving the store the officer was ambushed and stabbed several times.

An alert citizen, who was driving by and saw the attack, stopped his vehicle and ran to help the officer.  Additional citizens rushed to assist and the attacker was subdued.

The officer suffered a stab wound to her neck and serious injuries to her hands, but she survived the attacked both because she had knife-attack-survival training and because a citizen who saw an officer in trouble made the decision to help.

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As police officers, we do not expect every person to physically jump into a bad situation and help another citizen or a police officer in need, as to do so asks more than some people are capable of.  What we expect in those situations is assistance in any form possible.

Take, for instance, the time my mother was a witness to an armed robbery.  Was my mom able to physically wrestle the suspect to the ground?  No.  Was she able to extract herself from the incident?  Somehow, by the Grace of God, yes.

My mom was able to slip out, unnoticed, and she made sure everyone approaching the establishment knew to stay away, that a man with a gun was inside.  Then she called 911 and was the best witness any police officer could hope for.

Thank goodness for people like her.

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Next, I’ll touch on what officers can do to ensure they make it home at the end of their shift.

I expect this will be an ongoing topic, as I’m set to attend a lecture in the spring about the contributing factors of law enforcement deaths and it’s a topic many officers are quite passionate about.

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