“Trusting information without confirmation”

How many times have you contacted a homeowner or resident to inquire “Is there anybody else inside this home?” before you deployed your dog looking for a suspect you believed to be on the premises – only to learn later that the suspect wasn’t present and a child or “Grandma” was innocently sleeping in their own room when they encountered your dog?

“Fast is fine, but accuracy is everything.”  -Xenophon 

How many times have you received information from a dispatcher, fellow officer or civilian witness about a particular suspect or incident – existence of a warrant or a description – only to learn later it wasn’t accurate?

“Prepare for the unknown by studying how others in the past have coped with the unforeseeable and the unpredictable.” -George S. Patton

We often make split-second decisions while working with a police dog and the information we need to assist those decisions is sometimes rapidly received and processed.  Other times, we have more time on our side to evaluate and confirm the information.  Mistakes have been made because information has not been confirmed nor an attempt made to confirm because there wasn’t sufficient opportunity or the patience to do so – and that gets us in trouble.

“Trust, but verify.” -Ronald Reagan  

Whenever possible, and it is not always possible, confirm information you are receiving and base your decisions and tactics accordingly.  Sometimes, you get a gut feeling or a red flag is waved.  We rely on information being given to us on a regular basis – we must trust our sources – but remember that seeking confirmation is not mistrust.  If you don’t feel comfortable with the information being provided, you might not deploy your dog.  Or, you might vary your tactics to conform to the situation based on the information you are receiving  – maybe you deploy off lead or use a long line – and you give an extraordinary amount of verbal announcements – just in case!

Take care, be safe and confirm information whenever possible…

Bill Lewis II

This “Reason” was originally shared on July 22, 2013

“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?