I’d like to think it doesn’t happen often – but I know of a few deployments of a police dog that were made because of the influences of other officers gathered at the scene cast upon the handler during the decision making process. It’s called “peer pressure” and it can be a negative factor as a handler considers the options and circumstances to deploy or not. I’ve read a lot of deployment reports and I’ve yet to see one that contains something like this;
“At that time, I decided to deploy my police service dog to apprehend the suspect based on peer pressure from the other officers at the scene.”
Peer pressure is the influence from a person or group of people to do something you might not otherwise consider doing. Peer pressure isn’t always a negative thing – but it usually is when related to a police dog deployment. If you are a handler who has been requested to the scene of a potential deployment, you will be expected to deploy your dog by those who have requested you respond because that’s what they expect based on their knowledge and experience. Will you have the proper training and mindset to overcome this pressure and make the right decision independently? Will you be able to justify your decision and explain it logically to those present then or later should you decide not to deploy your dog?
“Peer pressure and social norms are powerful influences on behaviour, and they are classic excuses.” –Andrew Lansley
Peer pressure isn’t necessarily limited to those at the scene – it can also come indirectly from others not present that the handler regularly associates with or has spoken to about potential deployments. For example, if a handler’s dog has not gotten its first street bite, there may be “pressure” and constant inquiries about the dog’s capabilities from others not directly present because the first bite is often wrongly considered to be a measure of a successful K9 team. Will you have the confidence and leadership to overcome this pressure and make the right decision independently? Can you overcome the pressures of the phenomenon known as the “first bite syndrome”?
“People just don’t realize how much peer pressure, the desire for peer acclamation, influences them.”–Frederica Mathewes-Green
One of the simplest ways to combat peer pressure as you arrive at a scene – even if it is not an issue with you – is to leave your police dog in the car until you have accessed the situation if the circumstances and timing allow it. If you need the dog, then call it or go get it. Bad decisions are often made during rapid-evolving situations or when time constraints, stress and chaos occur without the time to properly evaluate. The best way to combat negative peer pressure is to properly educate your support personnel and to possess and practice the proper training, mindset, leadership and confidence necessary to make the right decisions.
Take care, be safe and be prepared to deal with negative peer pressure…..
Bill Lewis II
This “reason” was originally shared on February 4, 2015.
“Trouble” isn’t always related to incidents or predicaments that directly result in lawsuits, claims or discipline. Often times, our actions or inactions that are missed, deliberately overlooked or downplayed may lead to nothing or can later lead to mistakes or bad incidents with minimal to serious repercussions. A reason we get in trouble can be minor or simple at first glance – or even serious – but a combination of these factors can often have disastrous consequences.
These “reasons” are provided periodically as a collection in-progress based on actual incidents and real attitudes as well as feedback received at HITS, the CNCA Training Institute, and the “Canine Liability 360” classes. As Gordon Graham says, “We haven’t found new ways to get in trouble.” So, as the list progresses, you may or may not read something familiar to you that you have personally experienced or seen others encounter. If you encountered or heard about it, did you learn from it?