10 Deadly Mistakes Handlers Make
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The 10 Deadly Errors

by Master Trainer Gary Arway Hampton Police Division, Virginia

I wish I could take claim for the Ten Deadly Errors but I can’t. Many years ago in a New Jersey Police Academy, I had been preached the Errors from my Instructors. Day in and day out we recited, sang and learned the ten most deadly errors we would ever encounter. Years have passed since those days and I find myself thinking about old training theories. SMI Chris Aycock and I talked about our old training and the Deadly Errors, during lunch at a class. It’s funny how old things we have learned creep back up and still apply in law enforcement today. Please remember these while on the street.

If you fail to keep your mind on your job while on patrol or carry your home problems with you to work you will begin to make errors that can cost lives. Not only could it take yours, but your brother Officer or your canine partner. Your attitude and emotions flow down the leash which effect your K-9’s performance. REMEMBER:  Attitude, anger, emotion flow from the handler not from the dog, your dog can sense that. 

No doubt all K-9 Teams have courage, because if they didn’t they would not be successful. There is how ever a division between courage and just plain stupid. There are few and in between situations that you need to go alone “wait for Back Up”. Unless you’re from a small department or one that covers many miles, back-up is usually available. The minute you wait, could save somebody’s life. This time can be used to get your thoughts together and establish a game plan.

Handlers need to be alert, being asleep on duty not only is against regulations, but you endanger the team. Lack of sleep or sleeping on duty can affect you, your brother Officers, your K-9 and the community that you serve. Being alert will help you to think out of the box, like all handlers need to do, to achieve successful.

Always be aware of your position, maintain the advantage over your opponent. There is no such thing as routine in the K-9 field or Police work. Never let anyone get in a position that they could compromise your safety.
Murphy’s Law: “Anything that could happen, can and will happen”.

Furtive movements, eyes and body position, learn to read people just as well as you read your dog. Know the area you are working in, know your community, above all know your world.

Watch your suspect’s hands, that’s where the dangers are going to come from.

Don’t be so quick to relax after the immediate threat is over. Watch for other threats “Scan Your World” be ready, be on your toes.

Once you have made an arrest, handcuff immediately and properly. Maintain control of your suspect even after he is cuffed. All too many Officers fail to have control before they even have the cuffs out. Many Officers pull the cuffs out prior to getting that control, putting them at a disadvantage.

Search all suspects; a bad search can cost a life, maybe your own. If you’re transporting a prisoner for somebody else search them again. Maybe you will find more than you have bargained for.

Keep all your equipment clean and in good working order, you will never know when, where and how you’ll need it next. K-9 handlers are your collars, leashes and harness in good condition? They are all tools of our trade.

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