Sunday, January 03, 2016

Terry's Rules

Terry Trahan posted something on FaceBook. Something important and iconic, and I want to play with it, the way I intend to play with Wilder and Kane's recent work on Musashi's Dokkodo soon.

Terry posted them as his rules. The Italic afterwards is my commentary.

No matter what, I go home
Yes. Everything else is bullshit. This is also the first of Mac's Golden rules: "You and your partner go home safe at the end of each and every shift." It is the essence of hostage rescue's "Immutable Order." Here's the deal. It's not just because we do this so we can go home to our families. If that was the only criterion, the smart thing would be to do something else. Be an accountant, whatever. But for society as a whole, someone has to stand up, someone has to take the risks and take the hits. As the saying goes, "If not us, who? If not now, when?"

But the cold hard math of it is that a dead medic never saved anybody. A SWAT operator who overestimated himself and did something stupid and got hurt doesn't just take himself out of the equation. He takes himself and all the resources diverted to save his dumb ass. Those resources are now unavailable for the primary problem.

So, absolutely, for your family, for yourself, and for society your safety comes first. We aren't paid to lose.

It's ok to stop and think
One of the hallmark differences between an amateur and a professional is how they understand time. If no one is getting hurt, the bad guy can say any shit he wants. If I can tell, because of height, distance and weight distribution, that attacking me will take a full second, I'll use half that second to plan.

Time is a magic thing. It makes many problems go away, especially problems based on a bad guy's adrenaline. If there is any time to stop and think, I will use that time as ruthlessly as I would use a weapon or any other resource.

Remember to get doing again
That said, when you have time, you think. When you no longer have time, you need to be me moving. Running, fighting-- whatever is appropriate. But if talking is going to get you killed, one of the stupidest things you can do is keep talking.

There's a subset in our society that thinks that planning and thinking are just as valuable as doing. They can kiss my ass. There's an old saying in intelligence that communication without information is noise and information without communication is useless. Plans without execution are useless masturbation. Thought should inform action, no doubt. But everything predicates on action.

Do nothing you can't live with
Any form of violence has consequences-- physical, legal, medical and psychological. There is always a moral aspect to any use of force. In the end, you have to be able to live with whatever you do, whatever you have done. The drug abuse, alcoholism and suicide rate among survivors is unacceptable.

And this involves knowing yourself. It's easy to say the words, no matter what the words are: "I would kill to protect my children." "I'd rather be tried by twelve than carried by six." "There is no moral way to use force." There's a lot of words, and all of them are bullshit until they have been tested by you in the field.

Knowing what you're capable of is less than half the battle. Knowing what you can do and still look at yourself in the mirror is the greater goal. And, my personal take-- learning how to change what you can live with is a superpower. Understanding the depths beneath the ethics.

That's enough for tonight.  4/11. More coming up.


Jason Azze said...

The first one always raises my hackles because I hear it most often in combination with with "the officer was following department protocols." I guess it's fine, as long as you remember that other people want to go home at the end of your shift, too.

Terry said...

I can kind of see how the first one 'could' cause concern.
But, I'm not an officer or official of any kind. These are my civilian rules.

Jim said...

There's a kind of hidden qualifier that Rory's pointing in the First Rule. That rule is typically stated along the lines of "Make sure you go home at the end of the day", or as Terry put it here "No matter what, I go home." For the professional -- be they cop, bouncer, fire fighter, soldier, whoever else along those lines -- there's the unspoken caveat that your job is to go into danger, and that means that sometimes, there's a chance that you won't go home. But that caveat or that possibility is not an excuse to be stupid. If you get hurt or killed, or crash en route to the call, you can't help and in fact, tie up resources that might be needed. So, sometimes, the first rule means that you do the best you can to do things as safely as you can. If you have to do something dangerous -- do it in the safest way you can. (Aside: fire fighters are tons smarter about this than cops. Loath as i am to admit it...) And -- while the professional is going to try to do as much as possible to get EVERYONE out of the situation safely, in the end, they have to sometimes be selfish. If it's the choice of the guy attacking me going home, or me? Well, I've got a family that loves me and is waiting for me to come home, and I'm going to do all that I possibly can to ensure that I do.

Personally -- I'd combine the 2nd and 3rd here, though: Use the time you have in the best way you can. If the time and situation are stable enough, use the time to figure out the best way to handle a situation rather than rush into something stupid. But -- if there's no time -- ACT! At that point, the worst action beats inaction... and might be enough to buy you the time to take a better action.

gurume said...

Bad guys would use the First Rule to justify things - "I shot him because he was a threat and I'm not risking my life for some punk," etc, etc. Good guys would use it as a principle that will inform their actions - "I don't care about my ego, whatever option will resolve this situation I'll take it and then go home."

Another difference to me is that bad guys stop at the First Rule.

The European Historical Combat Guild said...

I think Rory summed it pretty clearly... if you are dead or bleeding etc... you can no longer contribute to finding a solution... worse you are now a distraction from others finding a solution.

Josh K. said...

I'm wondering, there is a scene in "I Robot" where a robot Saves will smiths character's life over that of a child's life, does who's life we are talking about change the math on rule one?

My only problem with rule one as it relates to Police Offices is is it assumes that the order of priority should always shift towards officer safety over civilian.

If that is the order of priority them of course if the officer endangers himself he becomes a distraction because we are prioritizing his life as an officer over that of the civilians,

Is it ever appropriate to prioritizes some else's life over your own. This often what firefighters and Police officers say they do but not how they are trained to respond. Mixed messaging or aggrandizement?

Does the rule one hold up for civilians; with the same primary question in mind. If I choose to risk my life in what ever I do, are those around me including the police morally responsible for insuring that I survive it or obligated to risk their life for mine. I don't think so, but some people do take on a perceived duty as is if they were under some moral obligation, and then expect others to then feel indebted to them after the fact.

My thoughts, instead of holding or expecting someone to sacrifice themselves so others do not have too, why not expect and hold every one including ourselves to stand up to the best of their abilities and do what ever they can. Instead we have built up this culture of dependence where every one is supposed to sacrifice themselves for the benefit of others. Have we lost all sense of personal-responsibility?