They’re one of the most dangerous parts of the job for police officers. Our NH1 News Exclusive Series: The Recruit continues with a look at how the Manchester Police Department trains its new officers to keep everyone safe during a pullover.
Google “traffic stops gone bad,” and you’ll see thousands of videos and articles about violent and deadly encounters. Some of the videos are scary, to say the least. That’s why one of the most important training elements for a new officer is the felony or high-risk traffic stop.
A Louisiana veteran trooper is killed by a man inside a pickup truck stuck in a ditch. It’s the latest example of the dangers officers face everyday.
“He opened fire with a sawed off shotgun and shot that trooper in the head,” says Officer Rob Harrington. “What went through my head is that it could happen at any time, any place – you just don’t know.”
Officer Harrington is THE veteran at the Manchester Police Department. Badge #1. 31-years patrolling the streets, enforcing traffic laws, seeing it all.
“You just have to take it as it comes, really.”
He’s been stabbed and dragged …
“I’ve been hit three times. My back and neck are never going to be the same,” says Harrington.
Sometimes wondering if he’d make it home alive.
“This is New Hampshire. Everybody’s got a gun. If they don’t have a gun, they have a tire iron or a baseball bat or mace,”says Harrington.
That’s why the recruits go through intensive training.
“It’s virtually impossible to train for every single scenario,” says MPD Training Specialist Andrew Delorey. “It would be exhausting and we would never be done training.”
So the focus – in this training lesson – high-risk stops.
Recruits – including Officer William Regan – also experience what it’s like for people on the other side of the gun.
“So that you can kind of have a feeling as what that is like. You have to be able to kind of judge people’s reactions,” says Regan.
As the recruits prepare for the dangers they will face during their careers, Officer Harrington – affectionately called THE DUKE after John Wayne – offers some words of wisdom.
“Think before you act. Treat every person out there the way you’d expect to be treated if you were in their position.”
As for the frightening encounters we often see on the news across the country, Harrington says:
“It’s not Manchester. People shouldn’t fear the police. The police are here to protect people. We’re not an occupying army. Realize that you have people dedicated to what they’re doing out there.”
To give you an idea of how dangerous the job can be, check out these FBI stats. In 2013 – it’s the most recent data – there were 49,851 assaults on officers. 249 of them in New Hampshire.