Being Safe, Isn’t

I enjoy watching Mike Rowe on “Dirty Jobs.” I am interested enough that I followed him once the show went off the air. He has written at least one book and maintains a blog.

I suspected that the message he was trying to get across, on “Dirty Jobs” was largely lost on liberals. If you’ve never seen the show, Rowe would take on jobs that were nasty and often times dangerous.

He would work alongside guys that performed that job day in and day out. What I saw and what I believe many people missed was that these workers were proud of the job they did. The pride came from the fact that they were performing a task that most people wouldn’t and couldn’t do.

I don’t think I ever saw a worker that was unhappy in their role. I’m sure part of reason was observation bias.

I could never picture myself as a pole dancer. That doesn’t mean I can’t appreciate someone that is. Particularly when they do it well.

Talent covers a wide range

In an interview and blog entry Mike Rowe rejected the idea that safety came first. He was challenged about that assertion. Here is the challenge. The link is Rowe’s response.

OK, I’m going to need you to walk me through this whole “Safety Third” thing one more time. How can safety be anything other than first? Are you seriously suggesting that saving the economy is more important than saving lives? Now, more than ever, safety must be first, whatever the cost! 

Roger Martin

I agree with Mike Rowe. Safety is a great mindset. But it is not the the first priority. There must be a balancing act between completing the task and being safe while doing it.

When I started out as a cop the attitude at the time was, “go do what needs to be done.” How was pretty much left unanswered.

Joseph Wambaugh coined the phrase, “John Wayne Syndrome.” In hundreds of movies John Wayne strolled through all sorts of violence and only got killed a few times.

Cops exhibiting the John Wayne Syndrome walked into situations unprepared or with an inflated belief in their abilities. They were secure in the knowledge that God and right was on their side. Many were subsequently disappointed. A legendary Texas Ranger Captain took it a step further.

“No man in the wrong can stand up against a fellow that’s in the right and keeps on a-comin’”

Texas Ranger Bill McDonald (1852-1918)

The Texas Rangers liked the quote so much, it later became a motto for the Texas Rangers themselves.

This may explain, in part, why Texas, California, New York and Florida compete for the honor of having the most cops killed by violence in any given year.

Police work is inherently dangerous. However, it is less dangerous than being a logger, roofer or commercial fisherman.

Police officers can address the risk by being properly equipped, having a realistic view of any situation and applying appropriate tactics. Even when they do everything right they can’t eliminate the risk. The best they can hope for is to manage or mitigate the effect.

The only way to do a wide variety of tasks that make up most jobs and eliminate the risk, is to not do the job. Today there will be office workers who will die while seated at their desk. Even if the MSM were to give a daily tally, there would be no outcry. That’s just one of those things.

As one hunkers down at home keep this in mind.

Oct. 2, 2002 — Home may be a place to escape the dangers of the outside world, but a new report shows dangers abound on the home front as well — causing as many as 20,000 deaths, 7 million disabling injuries, and 20 million hospital trips in the U.S. each year.


We used to say any instruction that says “always” or “never” is usually wrong. The sentiment may be admirable, but the implementation fails to recognize a wide range of possibilities.