A seasoned veteran street beat cop knows that anyone, and Gumshoe means anyone buckaroos, regardless of their shape, their size, their sex, their age, their race, their color, their creed, their mental state, their emotional state, their status can kill you if you let them.

No permission to die or be killed on Gumshoe’s watch! Thus, a healthy fear of our fellow humans is necessary for street survival.

Love your neighbor, but pat them down and always watch their hands. Handcuff hands to the rear. Find one weapon, look for the second weapon. Just because they are down does not mean they are safe or out of the fight.

Just because you are down does not mean that you are out of the fight.

“Live to survive and survive to live” was a sticker on the inside door of Gumshoe’s police locker.

Situational awareness was also a big must. A cop’s mental mantra, “Nothing is ever routine” in police work. “Routine”, routinely kills cops. Gumshoe would religiously preach it and practice it. Trainees were my captive audience inside the black and white classroom as Gumshoe echoed this command.

“Learn to expect the unexpected,” Gumshoe would repeat and repeat this Infinitum into the trainee’s ears until it reverberated within their tender young skulls until it stuck.

A cop’s rationalization along with his or her mind-numbing complacency are the fellow travelers with deadly “routine”. Being bored to death has a very true ring to it.

Gumshoe would admonish the trainees that even “paranoids” have enemies. A healthy sense of paranoia is your best mindset. Homosapienphobia at its best until that fellow human has been completely rendered safe.

Follow your “gut instinct“ Gumshoe instructed this God-given factory-installed survival mechanism that will send emergency signals to your brain. “Danger, danger Mr. Robinson!” Gut instinct will also immediately activate those little hairs on the back of your rookie necks that will in turn serve as a threat broadcasting message. 10-4?

Wake up! Be alert! Act! Gumshoe admonished his trainees, “You nor your loved ones need a street named in your honor, nor a cold granite memorial containing your inscribed name, or a neatly folded triangle-shaped Old Glory presented to them.

There are no “John or Jane Waynes” in police work who survive for long on the streets.

The hard ugly truth in police work is that cops get themselves killed. One of the best officer survival books ever written in Gumshoe’s opinion was “Officer Down, Code Three” by the late LAPD Homicide Detective Pierce Brooks. Captain Brooks was the primary lead investigator in the homicide of Officer Ian Campbell. The kidnapping of two LAPD Officers, Ian Campbell and Karl Hettinger, by two street thugs Powell and Smith. This kidnapping resulted in the execution murder of Officer Campbell and the attempted murder of Officer Hettinger who survived by escaping.

The events leading to this crime were later written about by author and retired LAPD Detective Joseph Wambaugh, in his critically acclaimed non-fiction book, “The Onion Field”, which was also later made into a movie. Captain Brooks wrote “Officer Down, Code 3” because he strongly believed that the murder of police officers could be prevented by the victim officer themselves. No blue cone of silence, just the cold hard facts.

Captain Brooks investigated multiple instances where cops lost their lives and he documented the cause and effect in each of these tragic cases. He then wrote the guide for officer survival that was learned by the hard lessons by the spilt blood of the dead coppers.

Gumshoe made this a mandatory read for every rookie trainee under his charge.

The bible will save your soul, but Pierce’s book will save your life. Both books, “The Onion Field” and “Officer Down, Code Three” are highly recommended for cops and even civilians alike. The truth never has an expiration date.

Okay then, that’s it until next time folks. Always remember to love the ones who love you and even try to love the ones who don’t.

Coram Deo!

Note: Captain Brooks help pioneered along with the FBI, the profiling and the tracking of serial killers.

Police Trivia: Captain Brooks was personal friends with Jack Webb of “Dragnet” fame. His name, Captain Pierce Brooks was mentioned in the opening dialogue scene of Dragnet as the boss of Sgt. Joe Friday and Detective Frank Gannon. Dum, Da Dum Dum, Da!


Danny Pitocco
Danny Pitocco
RETIRED (as a Detective with the Snohomish County Sherriff’s Department, Washington State), Danny has over forty years of law enforcement experience across city, county, state and federal levels of government, including service as a Special Agent for the DEA, US Department of Justice. He’s a decorated law enforcement veteran, and recipient of the "Detective of the Year" award for Snohomish County, Danny is a certified composite artist and has testified as an expert witness in the field of narcotics and modus operandi of particular crimes in state and federal courts in California, and has given testimony before federal grand juries. Danny served four years of active duty in the US Marine Corps and loves Jesus as his personal savior.

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  1. Great article Gumshoe. Split second decisions are usually the difference between going home to the family or to a different kind of home. Unfortunately with the fact that everyone now has a cell phone the officer sometimes hesitates to follow his instincts for fear of how the outcome will be perceived by the public. That indecision can cost the officer his life. .

    • Right on point Tom. Police Officers are under intense observation by the media and the general public at large. “Monday-morning quarterbacking” is the game played by politicians, pundits and even police administrators. Woe to the officer who does the right thing, the right way, in the right time, for the right reason and still be held liable to swing in the political wind. Accountability is a must, but it has to be just and fair before snap judgements and knee jerk reactions.

  2. Great article babe, if we were younger, we could start a business of training cops the way they use to, not be so complacent and on the other hand, control, control, control, without cops losing their lives or those they encounter. Think about it, none of those you trained, including me, lost a life or took a life in the line of duty recklessly, if at all.

    • Thanks Nightingale for your comment. It is a sad fact that in this rush to defund police budgets that their respective training budgets are cut drastically or eliminated. The officers pay the ultimate price.

  3. Great article, Danny. I think it is true that oftentimes cops get themselves killed. I think that is even more true of most civilians that get harmed. Few people have any real awareness of what is going on around them. They do stupid things. Going into a semi-lit garage at night. Walking alone at night. Not having a secure home, i.e. burglar alarm, defense capability, open windows, exterior lighting, unlocked doors. The list of stupid acts, lack of acts, and unawareness creates opportunities for the criminally inclined.

    I once did a seminar on “everyone is a potential thief” for our managers. Put under enough pressure anyone will steal to stay alive, feed their children, or support their drug adiction. Likewise, under enough pressure anyone is a possible threat to your wellbeing.

    • Your so right Ken. Folks including cops put themselves within their own personal security bubble that unfortunately bursts to their sudden shock. False sense of security indeed!

      Thanks as always for your comments Ken.

    • Thanks bro. The recent deaths of police officers prompted me to reiterate officer survival truths. You never know what you have prevented because those statistics can’t be measured. That’s why police cars are black and white and readily discernible.