We first saw this picture on The Crossover. HM had some perspectives about the aftermath of an incident of this magnitude. I’ve got my own…but they’re about what happens before the incident and how to avoid the incident altogether.
Let me start by saying, I wasn’t driving the Santa Maria PD patrol car involved. I don’t know the officer involved. I don’t know anything about the incident above what was reported…which was he was responding as a cover car in the pursuit of a burglary suspect. My opinions about officers and speed are not specific to this incident; however, it does serve as a serious reminder about the dangers of outdriving one’s abilities.
For those not in the know, let’s look at some cop lingo. Code 3 means activating the emergency lights and siren. The purpose behind rolling code 3 is to get other vehicles out of the way so we can get to where we need to go. As my sergeant is fond of saying, “You can drive 10 MPH and still be code 3.” All too often, we equate driving code 3 to hauling ass. Not only is that inaccurate, but it can be unsafe.
On the flip side, we have pursuit driving. Pursuit driving should always include rolling code 3, but not every code 3 run is pursuit related. Pursuit driving is typically faster and infinitely more dangerous.
Cops are prototypically engineered to dig on adrenaline. Very little else in life floods the body with adrenaline like driving at triple digits with your hair on fire en route to a dangerous detail where no one knows what’s happening. Danger, drama, the unknown? Oh, hell yes! Gets me fired up simply typing it!
The problem comes with a few different issues. First, tunnel vision. Everything around you closes down to just what is immediately in front of you. We become uber-focused on where we’re going and what we’ll do when we get there that the simple act of actually getting there becomes secondary.
The second issue, appropriately enough, is in fact arriving. How can I expect to help the distressed citizen, the beaten wife, the molested child, my partner fighting for his life if I’m driving outside of my capabilities and end up looking like the destroyed patrol car above?
The solution? Slow it down and drive within your ability. I’m not saying drive Miss Daisy, but clear those intersections at a speed that resembles a vehicle and not a rocket ship. Break out of your tunnel vision. Move your head and eyes side to side. Make it an exaggerated movement, because it won’t be as extreme as you think it is.
If you get that adrenaline rush and ignore your training, experience, and common sense, you run the serious risk of not being a help to anyone…because now vital resources have to be diverted to come to your aid.
You won’t help anyone by getting there any quicker. I’ve always loved the old shooting adage “Slow is smooth. Smooth is fast.” It applies to a hell of a lot more than shooting.
Stay safe. Slow down. Look. Get there.