PostHeaderIcon Cops Are Not Trained To Kill

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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!

One Response to “Cops Are Not Trained To Kill”

  • Larkin says:

    I wondered when you’d speak again. Glad to see this post.

    There have been some pretty strange things flying around the internet–twitter, for sure. Like, why was the cop so afraid that he let his emotions get the better of him and killed Michael Brown? Like, cops are trained to “fist fight” so they don’t really need to shoot. In other words, absent any definitive or provable facts, a whole lot of people are damning the officer in this case.

    A lot of people seem to think that a cop is supposed to allow himself to be killed rather than to use deadly force to defend himself. Someone actually said, “What would have happened if it had been the other way around? If the cop had been killed?” I said, in that case, only other officers would notice. Sad but true.

    Watching all this as carefully as I can.

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