Graduation was held in the early evening so the most possible family members could attend.  We were finally wearing our official uniforms complete with a name tag, full leather, and an empty handgun.   This is one of those special occasions in your life where you feel proud of yourself.  You paid for this evening with six long months of sweat and occasionally blood.   You were sprayed in the face with Mace while at attention, went in the gas house and removed your mask and found your way out, and who knows how many times the hand to hand sergeant used you as a crash test dummy.  This is your night and it feels great.  This time tomorrow you’d be meeting your Field Training Officer and experiencing your first night on patrol.  



Cops call it the John Wayne Syndrome and it’s one of the things the FTO watches for in his new trainee above all others.  This is an attitude that will get you killed.  Or in some cases prosecuted.  Restraint, good judgment, keen self control, slow to anger, and sometimes the ability to take it on the chin and walk away.. these are the traits your FTO looks for.


 

As each new Police Officer heard his name read, they went forward to receive a certificate and have their badge pinned on.  As the last part you were handed your department approved ammunition.  Most everyone found a reason to go to the bathroom where they discretely loaded their handgun and quickly returned it to their holster before heading back to the evening festivities.  We were now complete, and somehow that Smith and Wesson Model 686 felt five times heavier than it did just five minutes ago.  We were now licensed police officers.  We now had our duties and responsibilities under the law as we’d learned them in the academy.

 

In the coming weeks I learned two of my classmates who had went to other agencies had already been in shoot outs.  Both had killed someone.  Most of us would go on to serve from a few to 20 or more years without firing our weapon while on duty.  But these two guys..  there was talk, justified or not.. mention of “The John Wayne Syndrome” surfaced.  This is a syndrome where you feel power drawn from your weapon, where you feel a responsibility to get involved when maybe you shouldn’t.  You could call it the Superman Syndrome and many other names, but you get the message. 

 

Cops call it the John Wayne Syndrome and it’s one of the things the FTO watches for in his new trainee above all others.  This is an attitude that will get you killed.  Or in some cases prosecuted.  Restraint, good judgment, keen self control, slow to anger, and sometimes the ability to take it on the chin and walk away.. these are the traits your FTO looks for.



The John Wayne Syndrome applies directly to CCW holders as well.  The day comes when your new CCW license arrives in the mail.  Will you be ready?  Not just with the equipment, your new Glock and Galco IWB holster I’m sure you’ve had well in advance and you’ve even been to the range and practiced your draws and live fire exercises.  But are you ready?  The next time you leave your home will you be carrying?


 

The John Wayne Syndrome applies directly to CCW holders as well.  The day comes when your new CCW license arrives in the mail.  Will you be ready?  Not just with the equipment, your new Glock and Galco IWB holster I’m sure you’ve had well in advance and you’ve even been to the range and practiced your draws and live fire exercises.  But are you ready?  The next time you leave your home will you be carrying? 

 

If so, don’t fall victim to the John Wayne Syndrome.  Don’t feel special powers.  You are NOT required, expected, or even authorized to get involved with crimes in progress, arguments in the Walmart parking lot, or with anyone you’ve previously had issues with.  You are NOT a police officer obligated or authorized to do anything other than protect your life in the face of death or great bodily injury.  That’s it.  Any why would you want to?  Your life would change, your legal bills might eat up all of your assets, not to mention the delayed stress and mental effects if heaven forbid you take a life.   You don’t want to go there.  Trust me on this.



If so, don’t fall victim to the John Wayne Syndrome.  Don’t feel special powers.  You are NOT required, expected, or even authorized to get involved with crimes in progress, arguments in the Walmart parking lot, or with anyone you’ve previously had issues with.  You are NOT a police officer obligated or authorized to do anything other than protect your life in the face of death or great bodily injury.  That’s it.  Any why would you want to?  Your life would change, your legal bills might eat up all of your assets, not to mention the delayed stress and mental effects if heaven forbid you take a life.   You don’t want to go there.  Trust me on this.


 

You don’t want anyone to know you’re carrying.  You don’t want to “print” to impress your friends and make them ask you if you’re carrying.  You don’t want to tell them you are.  If you haven’t overcome the desire to brag, do so now.  It’s a last resort that might save your life someday.  That’s it.  “Successfully carrying” means you strapped on your weapon, went about your normal daily life, and you made it home that evening without anyone knowing, and without having to use your weapon.   Successfully carrying shouldn’t be any different than if you didn’t carry.

 

Many people won’t even know they’re having symptoms of the syndrome.  There’s no FTO going with you for the first 3 months to make sure you don’t do anything terribly stupid.  With a CCW you’re on your won.  You’ll be in the close confines of your car with your loaded weapon and your loved ones, remember your firearm safety rules.  If you witness an altercation or event of the type that might progress DO NOT get involved.   Try to melt away unnoticed, all the time prepared if you’re unfortunate enough for the attention to be drawn to yourself.



Many people won’t even know they’re having symptoms of the syndrome.  There’s no FTO going with you for the first 3 months to make sure you don’t do anything terribly stupid.  With a CCW you’re on your won.  You’ll be in the close confines of your car with your loaded weapon and your loved ones, remember your firearm safety rules.  If you witness an altercation or event of the type that might progress DO NOT get involved.   Try to melt away unnoticed, all the time prepared if you’re unfortunate enough for the attention to be drawn to yourself.


 

Ideally you’ll go the rest of your life without ever needing your concealed weapon.  Whether you do or not is mostly dependent on you.   Resist the John Wayne Syndrome.  Resist being superman.  Restraint, good judgment, keen self control, slow to anger, and sometimes the ability to take it on the chin and walk away.. these are the traits your CCW instructor wishes for you..

 

Until next time..



Ideally you’ll go the rest of your life without ever needing your concealed weapon.  Weather you do or not is mostly dependent on you.   Resist the John Wayne Syndrome.  Resist being superman.  Restraint, good judgment, keen self control, slow to anger, and sometimes the ability to take it on the chin and walk away.. these are the traits your CCW instructor wishes for you..