By the Book: Appropriate Measures of Policing

A usual day in policing should, except in the event of urgency where danger is imminent or things are too unclear to be called safe, mean trying one’s best to remain resilient and keeping a balance. When there is a need to intervene, it is of the order to try deescalation instead of making things worse – or making it impossible to turn back. In the overwhelming number of cases, when one both puts things in perspective and evaluates the specific situation at hand, one will come to the conclusion that there are solutions which do not mean the ultimate sacrifice.

Truth be told, a police officer or a security official will be exposed to a great many events during his or her career, including dissatisfying ones. The danger lies not only in generalizations of what single cases are about once they turn out to be negative. It lies not only in possible fatigue over time. It lies in deducting the wrong measures from the vague ideas of what is the bottom line of one’s overall experience on duty, which in reality is made up of an ensemble of single cases.

It is understandable that some cases lead to frustration – sometimes and hopefully short-lived -, while oftentimes, an official will suffer from the effects for longer periods of time. However, one must see things as they are and always keep them apart, in a legal sense.

A famous person once said that people in public should have read a hundred books. And yes, it is highly recommendable to have a thorough idea about the relevant subjects, especially applied psychology. It is essential to keep up the right mindset: staying on the side of the law and doing things by the book, whereas too much creativity might lead to an unwanted conclusion. Applying proven techniques and modes of operation thus leads to the right way, while too much practicality, too much gut feeling – without contextualizing – are to be highly discouraged.

What I have been elaborating here will be no surprise to most people in policing. And since sarcasm is not a trait security officials usually indulge in, I will conclude with a merely ironic aspect to this serious topic: it should be clear that a day of duty, for most officials in a security profession, does mean everything but an adventure. No thrill, for one, and no catastrophe either.

Thorsten Koch, MA, PgDip
25 November 2023

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