I’ve been in Law Enforcement for more than 26 years as I write these words. In all that time I’ve only responded to perhaps a dozen or so calls for service that were still occurring. Over the years I’ve probably responded to literally thousands and thousands of calls and most of the time the incident was long over upon my arrival. At times with catastrophic results to those involved.

As we receive the call from the dispatcher, we immediately begin responding to the call. If the call is in progress while we are enroute and the dispatcher is still on the phone with the caller/victim, we get periodic updates via  our radio or computer of what is going on.  Often I can imagine what carnage or unspeakable violence is going on while we are rushing to the call.

Like most police departments in urban areas; our response times vary widely from probably around two minutes at its best to who knows how long after all the cuts to so many departments around the country. Two minutes…seems like a short time doesn’t it? I imagine it feels like two hours to the people waiting.

I write these words because in my experience the police will rarely and I would imagine never be there exactly when you need them. The saying that the police are only minutes away when you need them in seconds.

This is no slam against the police. Hell, most of us, the police I’m speaking of, want to help and be there quicker, because this is virtually impossible. Why? Because police departments are inherently reactive. Sure there are some aspects of police work that are police work that are pro-active. Officers around the country are always busy making traffic stops, doing investigations, initiating good quality police work that makes our communities safer every day. An officer might be in the right place at the right time and be able to stop the crime while it is happening, but this is soooo rare. Rare enough it can’t totally be depended on.

What I’m speaking of is calls for service. The whole thing is a process with delays in each step. The delays might only be seconds in the best of circumstances, but when seconds count minutes are too long.

This takes me back to the title of this text, ” You are the true First Responder.” This could be in your home or elsewhere. The police and the system they work in are not built for quick response in literal terms. they have many lags in the system and process that will delay their response.

Now…if the title is true, are you ready to defend and protect yourself and your family? Are you carrying concealed? Do you keep a secured but accessible firearm in your home that you can use to defend yourself with? If you do carry concealed do you still carry when you are at home.

I think these are questions we need to ask ourselves. Years ago when the economy around the country was flourishing I still heard rumblings of complaints of police response times. With the so-called “Tough Economy”, for the last half dozen years or so, what has happened to your police department and sheriff’s offices. In most areas of my state of Michigan, there have been cuts in personnel across the board. Less police to serve the public. Mind you, I said serve and not protect. Look up Warren v. District of Columbia for more on this.

It is your responsibility to protect yourself. It is your God given or natural right to protect yourself. No one has that responsibility for you, more than you. I encourage everyone reading these words to do all within their power to assure yourself that you can protect: You and your family.




1. Treat every firearm as if it is loaded.
If you see a firearm or pick up a firearm, always treat it as if it is loaded. If you remove the ammunition, check the chamber and you are certain that it is unloaded, still treat it as if it is loaded. If you go to a gun show or a gun shop and are looking at a firearm that is given to you by the clerk, make sure there isn’t any ammunition in the weapon and visually and physically check the chamber. If you don’t know how, ask.
2. Never point the muzzle at anything you aren’t willing to destroy.
Note: Just in case you might not know what the muzzle is, it is the front of the weapon where the bullet comes out.
This is a big one. I remember one time I was at work, and I received a call along with several other officers to a house reference a subject with a gun. There was some yelling and screaming from the neighbors at the houses and in the end we had to take a Yugoslavian SKS Rifle out of the house for safekeeping. The officer that secured the weapon, took it to the rear of his cruiser and I went over to see if I could help. After removing the magazine and clearing the chamber, he then began swinging the muzzle around and swept it past me. I grabbed the side of the barrel and told him to be careful. He said the gun was empty in an attempt to reassure me. I told him that I was “allergic to muzzles” and asked him to point it away from me. Don’t ever assume that anyone with some perceived knowledge about firearms from Law Enforcement or military backgrounds will know how to be careful. You have to protect yourself at all times.
3. Be absolutely certain of your target and what’s behind it.
If you find yourself in a situation where you have to use deadly force, there is more to it than just having the justification to shoot. You must also be able to justify where and why each of your spent rounds were fired. Even if you have the justification to use deadly force, but the background behind the threat or your target isn’t clear, meaning, someone else could be in the line of fire, you bring yourself into a liability situation that may be impossible to get out of and would prove to be extremely costly, literally and figuratively.
4. Keep your finger off the trigger guard until you are on target and ready to shoot.
This sounds simple, but if it was always followed, it would prevent a lot of accidental shootings. There has been extensive studies done that if a person is startled, one of the involuntary things that their hands will do is to clench up into a fist. If your finger is on the trigger of a firearm and you are startled enough, BANG. Keep your finger on the outside of the trigger guard, well away from the trigger. You wouldn’t want to stumble and have your finger slide onto the trigger. The next time you watch a television show or movie and see someone holding a firearm, check and see if you see them rest their finger outside of the trigger guard while they are standing or walking around. This will give you some indication if the actor received any training in the use of firearms.

Always Remember…you don’t have permission to quit.

Jeffrey Washington

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