Archive for the ‘Police Procedure’ Category
A few days ago, Huffington Post columnist Sabrina Siddiqui wrote a story titled When Cops Shoot, They’re Trained To Kill. They Never Shoot To Wound. In this piece, Siddiqui wrote, “ Officers have long been trained to shoot to kill because that is the only way they say they can neutralize a threat.”
In the very next paragraph she quotes John Firman, director of research, programs, and professional services at the International Association of Chiefs of Police, who clearly stated that police officers do not shoot to kill. Firman also went on to explain why officers are also not trained to “shoot to wound,” as I’ve also detailed on this blog and others, many, many times. In fact, just yesterday I posted an article titled Cops Are Not Trained To Kill.
The title of Siddiqui’s article was extremely misleading, was wholly inaccurate, and was quite possibly an attempt to further stoke the fire surrounding the shooting of Michael Brown. I’d rather believe, though, that Ms. Siddiqui, like many people, simply doesn’t know any better. I’m sure she’s never been exposed to these deadly situations and that’s why her opinion is so obviously skewed. And I’m here to help her understand, if, that is, she’s open to learning (I can recommend a great book about police procedure).
Anyway, yesterday, Siddiqui’s story and headline was revised. Apparently someone deep in the bowels of HuffPo realized the story title was basically a false statement. So it was changed to Why Do Cops So Often Shoot To Kill? The rewrite of it and parts of the article were no better, though—fact-twisted at best. A big squiggle of misleading non-truth included the line, “When faced with a perceived threat, why is it that many officers shoot to kill, rather than simply to wound?” Immediately following the new sentence with the same meaning as the old, Siddiqui again quoted John Firman who shoots down (pun intended) the meaning behind the author’s attention-grabbing headline.
In a possible attempt to further sensationalize police-involved shootings, Ms. Siddiqui waded into the recent police shooting of a knife-wielding St. Louis man. This incident, too, has the public outraged because police shot and killed the suspect who threatened their lives. The outcry over the St. Louis shooting is because much of the public feels that officers should have opted for TASERS instead of firearms. Well, TASERS are not for use when the situation calls for deadly force.
As my former mentor, a salty old sheriff’s captain, once told me, “Never bring a knife to a gun fight, son. You’re bound to lose a perfectly good knife.”
*For everyone out there who has no experience with suspects who charge you while pointing the sharp end of a knife at your midsection, I’m including (below) a copy of an article I wrote about how and why police defend themselves against edged weapon attacks.
As a last attempt to fan the race card flames and poke all cops in the eye, Siddiqui wrote this comment, “Studies have found that police officers are more likely to use excessive force toward black men than toward whites.”
A well-written and unbiased story would have included why this occurs, if it does. So, out of professional curiosity, I followed up on Siddiqui’s source for this comment and found it was an article published by an online magazine called New Republic.
New Republic’s stats were obtained from a college experiment where students were exposed to various video situations. The undergraduates pressed a button when they thought a suspect had “the weapon.” Students in the college study consistently thought a black man had the weapon as opposed to a white man.
HOWEVER, when mostly white police officers were brought in to participate in a similar study…well, I’ll quote the article. “According to a comprehensive comparison of police vs. civilian shooting rates published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, training makes an even clearer difference. Though police officers took longer to decide whether to shoot if the person was black, that analysis found trained officers weren’t influenced by race when it actually came to pulling the trigger.”
Not quite the same study result that Siddiqui wrote, is it?
Okay, I’ve rambled enough. Here’s the article on knife-wielding attackers.
Shoot or Not To Shoot: The 21 Foot Rule
As a long-time police academy instructor and instructor trainer for defensive tactics, officer survival, and weapons retention and disarmament, I feel more than qualified to answer a question I’ve seen popping up on a few expert loops in the recent days. The original question was, “What kind of martial arts technique is best to disarm a knife-wielding suspect who is on the attack.? The answer is quite simple. There is no foolproof technique. The suspect has initiated deadly force and that force must be responded to with the amount of force that’s necessary to stop the threat to the officer’s safety. The officer must defend himself with deadly force, if possible.
There is a long-standing, proven rule that an officer cannot draw, point, and fire his/her weapon if the attacker starts the assault from a distance of 21 away from from the officer (not 25 feet, and not 30 feet), such as in the photo above. We measured this distance to be exactly 21 feet from the attacker’s front foot to the officer’ front foot.
However, if the officer already has his weapon drawn, in the ready position, he’ll be able to effectively fire a round to stop the threat. Remember, officers are taught to shoot center mass, not shoot to kill, or to shoot a weapon from the attacker’s hand. That stuff is for TV.
In the photo above, the officer’s weapon is still in the officer’s holster and he should be contemplating other means of survival, such as running for cover, or preparing to go into a defensive tactics mode – hand-hand combat, with the almost certainty of being cut. I have nasty scars on all five fingers on my right hand, and my head, as proof of this tactic.
In the two photos above the officer would easily be able to stop the threat by firing a round or two.
Now, let’s go back to Sabrina Siddiqui. I think it would be a fantastic idea for each and every one of you to send her a brief email message stating that her story titles are extremely misleading, false, and, well you get the idea. Also, please encourage her to accept my invitation to attend the Writers’ Police Academy. I’d love for her to have the opportunity to see and experience first-hand the things about which she so cluelessly writes. After all, the purpose of the WPA is to educate writers about all things cops and robbers, right?
So here’s my invitation to Sabrina Siddiqui – You are invited, as my guest, to attend the wildly popular Writer’s Police Academy taking place on September 4-7, 2014 in Jamestown, N.C. The WPA is a hands-on event where writers from across the world attend an actual police academy to train and learn about all things cops and robbers in order to bring realism to their stories. I will personally see that you have a spot in the firearms simulation training so you can experience what it’s like to be in an officer’s shoes during an actual shooting or edged weapon situation. The ball is in your court. I look forward to hearing from you. Please contact me, Lee Lofland, at firstname.lastname@example.org to confirm.
At the very least, it would be a great story – everyone’s favorite authors driving, shooting, handcuffing, investigating murders, and much more.
Here’s Siddiqui’s email address. Please write her today. Right now. Flood her inbox with my invitation to attend the Writers’ Police Academy. I think she needs our help, and we’d love to have her help educate the public. She’s a wonderful writer who could really do the country a lot of good right now.
*By the way, the title of today’s article was made up s*** to grab your attention. I posted it to prove a point.
We’ve all seen it on TV and in movies, and we’ve read it in books. You know the scene, the one where the good guy draws his trusty six-shooter and shoots the gun from bad guy’s hand. Great skill, huh? Well, it’s darn near impossible shooting is what it is, especially when the good guy is in a stressful situation and must make a split-second decision. Like when his life may be ending at any moment!
First of all, only the best of the best marksmen could come remotely close to shooting with such precise accuracy. It takes a lot of practice to become an expert sharpshooter, and practice is not something many cops have the opportunity to do. Ammunition is expensive. In fact, with shrinking department budgets many agencies supply only enough rounds for annual mandatory in-service firearms qualification. SWAT teams and other special teams may be allowed extra ammunition for training, but not patrol officers and investigators, the cops on the front lines day in and day out. And there’s the time thing.
Officers work odd, long hours, sometimes for a couple days at a time if they’re working on a particularly time-sensitive case. But they have to sleep sometime. If not, fatigue can be a huge factor in an officer’s reaction time during deadly incidents. Therefore, heading to the range in lieu of grabbing a few hours sleep before working the graveyard shift just ain’t gonna happen.
Police officers are trained to shoot center mass for the purpose of stopping a threat to their lives or the life of another. Nothing else. No hands, feet, fingers, or toes. CENTER MASS ONLY.
In other words, police officers are not trained to wound. AND, they are not trained to kill anyone. Not now, not ever.
Again, police officers are NOT taught/trained to kill! The goal is to stop the immediate threat.
The center mass of a human, the torso, is the largest target on the body. Obviously, the largest target would be the easiest target to hit when having to return fire in a shootout. Taking aim and shooting a suspect in the hand, arm, or leg while dodging bullets as they zip by your ears is simply not practical. At least shooting center mass gives the officer a fighting chance to stay alive.
Hands, arms, and feet are the fastest moving parts of a body, and attempting to hit one greatly decreases the officer’s chances of hitting her target. Actually, hitting anything that’s moving, on purpose, would involve some pretty good shooting. The fact that the officer could also be moving at the time of the shooting further decreases the chance of him hitting a hand or arm.
Now, suppose the officer did manage to wound a suspect’s hand. So what. The bad guy may be so intent on completing his goal of killing the cop that he switches hands to continue firing. Or, a shot in the leg would probably do nothing to deter a suspect who’s intent on killing a cop. How about the shooters who are high on meth? Those folks do some crazy, unexpected things, and wounding them often does little, if anything, to stop them.
I remember a guy who pulled and fired a gun at several police officers and was shot 33 times. He survived. In fact, he continued walking toward the officers.
The shootout I was in with the bank robber is another good example. I shot the suspect 5 times, once in the head and four times in the chest (all were center mass shots—center mass of what I could see). Yet he still got up and made a final charge. A sheriff’s captain and I tackled him during his run at other officers. When we rolled him over he still had the gun in his hand and was pulling the trigger as fast as he could. Thankfully, he’d fired all the rounds and the gun was empty. I can assure you that shooting the robber in the hand or foot was not an option. He was shooting at me and there was no time to take aim at his trigger finger.
What about the rounds that miss the hand and foot targets? I believe the percentage of hitting center mass targets during shootouts is below 20%. So that means at least 80% of the rounds fired are stray bullets floating around occupied neighborhoods and city streets.
The number of missed shots would greatly increase if officers were forced to aim for much smaller targets. Besides, there are large arteries in the arms and legs. A single round to the femoral artery could cause a pretty rapid death. Dead is dead, no matter where the wound is located.
I’ll say it again, no one can know what it’s like unless you’ve been cursed at, hit, slapped, stabbed, cut, spit on, and shot at. No one, but the officer(s) involved in a shooting incident can speak with any authority about how he/she perceives a threat. Even two officers at the same shooting scene could and often do perceive the event(s) differently. But someone sitting at home forming an opinion based on the agenda-based stories they read in the Huff and Blow Post or Fox Not News…no way.
Once more…police officers are NOT trained/taught to kill anyone. Remember this, if you don’t remember anything else you’ve read on this blog in the past six or seven years. Well, that, and the bit about cordite. NO ODOR OF CORDITE in your books!