Editor’s Note: The crew of CopBlue is pleased have LEO NEAR MISS as our partner. Law Enforcement Officer (LEO) Near Miss is a voluntary, non-disciplinary officer safety initiative that allows cops to read about and anonymously share stories of close calls or “near misses,” which provide lessons learned that can protect fellow officers in similar situations.
One article will be featured each month to share with the CopBlue family of Street Cops. We believe this is just another way that we can expand our effort to, ‘Save just ONE life.’ Please join us and welcome LEO Near Miss to the CopBlue family.
On an October evening at approximately 2030 hours, several units were dispatched to a biker bar for a fight in progress, weapons involved. We were advised by the watch commander to stage at a location near the bar. We could assess the real nature of the call and confirm, as best as possible, the number and nature of weapons involved prior to responding to the scene.
Fights at the bar were not uncommon, but we were rarely called. Often, we were notified later by the hospital of a stab or gunshot wound.
After several more calls stating that combatants were stabbing each other and hitting each other with clubs and fists primarily, it was decided to move in on the location. Upon arrival, there were individuals who began fleeing.
Some were staggering out of the bar wounded and bleeding, while others were still inside. We contained the perimeter as additional sheriff’s units arrived. We made entry into the bar and began to make arrests, contain the scene, and call in medics.
As a young officer (only my second year), I was assigned to transport a couple of prisoners in my unit to our city’s jail and begin the booking process. I remained in the booking cell to receive other prisoners. A second officer remained in the booking office with me.
As I took personal property from those in custody and searched them, I passed the items through the window to the other officer. One of our older officers brought in a subject that he arrested.
The older officer was known for being cocky, often bragging and lecturing the new guys on how things ought to be done. He was a loud-mouth who had spent most of his career in quiet, docile positions due to his lack of attention to detail and a poor safety record.
The arresting officer had uncuffed the prisoner as he transitioned from the hallway to the booking cell. This was frequently done because most officers did not want to wait on their handcuffs. Some of them only had one pair.
Thank God, I immediately put the subject against the booking cell wall with his hands against the wall, his feet back and spread. I could feel him tense up. I warned him to relax and comply.
My tone was loud and authoritative, because something did not feel right. I took notice because the previous three bikers were banged-up and exhausted from their fight. They were very compliant.
As I was running my hands down the front of the right leg of the arrestee, I felt a large, hard object which was obviously not anatomically normal. I immediately yelled, “GUN!” Using a hair-pull takedown while gripping the arrestee’s right arm, I violently put him on the floor while two other officers ran into the booking cell.
Concealed down in his right leg was a beat up, modified, sawed-off Browning double-barreled shotgun!
Terrified doesn’t even come close. I honestly never thought that would happen. A pen knife, perhaps, or some other small object. I had heard in the academy about biker women concealing weapons in their body cavities for their men, but a shotgun or any type of gun after transport to jail?
I never expected that.
- Always, always search a prisoner thoroughly. Never hurry. If a prisoner is transitioned from one officer to the next, it’s always appropriate to re-search the prisoner. Even if you trust that your fellow officers have done their job, ‘trust but verify.’
- When conducting a search, be sure to control your subject. If they are not handcuffed, ensure you place yourself and the subject in a position that allows you to control them at all times, as demonstrated in this incident.
- If the subject becomes uncooperative, take that as a good indication they may have a weapon concealed on their person. Take quick, decisive action to ensure you maintain control, and then proceed with the search.
- The officer in this incident demonstrated great situational awareness. Be mindful of the totality of circumstances (e.g. the behavior of the other subjects, the nature of the call, known history of violence, etc.). Follow your gut: if something feels wrong, it probably is.
“Above all, it’s about going home at the end of the shift … “
We couldn’t agree more.
If you would like to read more stories like this one, please visit LEOnearmiss.org. We also ask that you consider sharing any near misses you have experienced. The five minutes you take to share your story can save the life of a brother or sister in blue.
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LEO Near Miss Overview
Law Enforcement Officer (LEO) Near Miss is a voluntary, non-disciplinary officer safety initiative that allows cops to read about and anonymously share stories of close calls or “near misses,” which provide lessons learned that can protect fellow officers in similar situations.
A near miss is defined as any incident that could have resulted in a law enforcement officer being seriously injured or killed if not for a fortunate break in the chain of events. Near misses oftentimes include contributing factors like hazardous conditions, subjects with concealed weapons, failed equipment, or lapses in situational awareness.
Regardless of the situation, they provide lessons learned, and reporting a near miss allows fellow officers to learn from these incidents so they can go home to their loved ones after every shift. Officers often share their near misses with their close friends, but rarely are these stories, and the lessons learned from them, shared with officers across the country. LEO Near Miss provides a secure way for cops to share this vital information.
LEO Near Miss is strictly for promoting peer learning and enhancing officer safety and wellness. Officers can visit LEOnearmiss.org or download the free smartphone app (LEO Near Miss), read the lessons learned from near misses experienced by other officers, and anonymously share their own near-miss experiences.
Near-miss stories submitted to LEO Near Miss go directly to the Police Foundation (www.PoliceFoundation.org), an independent, non-profit research and training organization that manages the system in partnership with other national organizations like Below 100, the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund, the Officer Down Memorial Page, and the National Tactical Officers Association. Each story received undergoes a two-stage review process by current and former law enforcement to remove all personally identifying information (ensuring anonymity when published) and to highlight important takeaways for improving officer safety.
Once a story has finished the review process (about 7-10 days), any personally identifying information is permanently deleted from our records, and the story is made available for vetted law enforcement personnel to access on the LEO Near Miss website and smartphone app. Furthermore, no IP addresses are ever tracked or linked to any stories submitted to the system, and officers do not need to log in to submit a story.
Please support this critical officer safety initiative by reading and sharing the near-miss stories and lessons learned that your fellow officers have shared, and please consider sharing your own near-miss experiences at LEOnearmiss.org or through our free smartphone app. The five minutes you take to share your story can save the life of a brother or sister in blue.