Wait for cover before confronting anyone involved in a disturbance with a family member-- especially estranged husbands/wives with children under the age of 10. These are the people most likely to be involved in planning or carrying out murder-suicides around the holidays. They will kill police officers who try to interfere.
Between now and January 1, 2014, don't approach any vehicle that feels unsafe if you are alone. Take a retired state trooper's advice and back off to a position behind your own vehicle with your gun drawn to wait for cover if you feel something is not right. If you do have to approach a vehicle, take Force Science's advice and use the passenger side. Many officers were killed in 2012 during encounters with shooters inside vehicles.
If you are called to a home to help out with a "distraught son," ask the family about possible mental illness diagnoses and past encounters with police. If you hear he has fought with police before or the words "bipolar" or "schizophrenic," use extra caution. These calls for service can lead to a line of duty death. Psychologists tell us that the mentally ill do not always experience life-- or their encounters with police-- in the same way as other people. If they believe you are coming for them, they may respond unpredictably and take violent countermeasures against police officers who only want to help them or talk to them.