PostHeaderIcon Ambush: How To Avoid Being A Target

Shots fired! Officer down! We’re taking rounds from somewhere, but we don’t know where! It’s a set up. Take cover! Send help. Now!

An ambush. It’s a nightmare scenario for police officers. And it’s a nightmare that’s difficult to predict, and it’s a nightmare that’s nearly impossible to avoid. Because when people call and say they’re in trouble the cops have to go. And the bad guys know this and they use it to their advantage.

However, there are some things officers can do to protect themselves. Like assessing all situations before plowing in head first. But that’s just plain old common sense. The best avenue for safety is to think like the bad guys. Be creative. How would a crook set up an ambush? What are some scenarios that would lure a police officer into the spider’s lair?

Well, this should all come as second nature for a cop. After all, police officers ambush bad guys all the time. And they’re quite good at it, too, but probably never considered that what they’re doing is actually an ambush.

Let’s compare a crook’s ambush plan to a police officer’s plan of attack when arresting a dangerous suspect. Any similarities?

1. Good guys -  Police officers gather intelligence on the suspect before moving in.

Bad guys – Study the habits of their police officer target before making a move.

2. Good guys – Before attempting to arrest a dangerous suspect get him alone, away from partners.

Bad guys – Before attempting to kill a highly-skilled police officer get him alone, away from his partners.

3. Good guy – When making the arrest be in charge. Go! Go! Go! Don’t be reactive.

Bad guy – Don’t wait for the target to make a move. Be Aggressive. Go! Go! Go!

4. Good guy -  Get the suspect on your turf and terms. Maintain control of arrest/take down location.

Bad guy – Get the cop off balance. Take him out of his element. Call 911 and report a crime in a deserted area. Maintain control of kill zone.

5. Good guy – Always find and use cover. Stay protected.

Bad guy – Stay hidden. Never expose your location.

6, Good guy – When the time is right go with all your might. Take ‘em down fast and hard.

Bad guy – Cut him no slack. Take him out, fast.

So you see, a cop’s arrest planning and execution is quite similar to a crook’s planning and execution of an ambush. Cops should definitely use this “inside” knowledge to help protect themselves against an attack.

So what’s the best defense against an ambush?

1. Always assume that someone could be waiting to ambush you. Don’t take a risk to save time, or because it seems foolish to take an extra precaution. Being teased is much more appealing than your kids growing up with only memories of a parent.

2. Habits are costly. Do not stick to a routine. Change the route you to take to work/home. Don’t eat at the same restaurant every day. Don’t sit in the same booth. Don’t stop at the same coffee shop on the way to work each morning. Don’t jog the same path after work.

3. Don’t enter locations/situations with only one way out. Always have a retreat strategy.

4. Look for things you can use for cover BEFORE you need it.

5. Go with your gut. If that extra cop sense tells you not to go, then don’t. Wait for back up. A cop’s instinct is usually on the money, so believe in it. Trust your gut!


The call is at 1313 Mockingbird Lane. Ms. Munster says her husband has been feeling a little green with jealousy lately and has threatened her a gun. In fact, he’s waving one around right now. She tells the dispatcher to please hurry before he kills somebody.

Officers respond, knock on the door, and Ms. Lilly Munster answers and says her gun-waving husband is now calm and in the bedroom watching TV. She then invites them inside to have a look. But she seems nervous. Very nervous.

What should the officers do? Go inside and speak with Mr. Munster? Wait for back up and storm the house? Order Mr. Munster outside? What about Ms. Munster? What happens to her?

4 Responses to “Ambush: How To Avoid Being A Target”

  • I’d get back up and order Mr. Munster outside.

  • Dave Swords says:

    Hi, Rita.

    Allow me to play devil’s advocate.

    You can’t see Mr. M. He is supposedly in the other room.

    If you tell Mrs. M. to have Mr. M. come outside, she says, “You should come in and tell him.” You’re back to square one.

  • JD Rhoades says:

    Pull out and nuke the site from orbit.

    It’s the only way to be sure.

  • Dave Swords says:

    Hoping that I sensed that something was amiss, I think the first thing to do is try to get Mrs. M out of the house. Your worst scenario at this point is that the husband is just inside the house, has her at gunpoint, and has told her to bring you into the house, or he will shoot her. If you can lure her from the house, once outside, then you can ask her what is going on.

    If you feared this was the case, you might want to tell her, so that he can hear, that she has to come out to your car and sign some papers indicating that there is no problem, and then you will return with her to talk with him. Once away from the house, she will hopefully tell you what is going on.

    If she tells you your worst fears were true, and there is no one else in the house but gun-toting Herman, then you call SWAT and have all the time in the world.

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