What it Takes

Fatalists would tell you that an on or off-duty cop is ill prepared to stop a hyper-violent criminal suspect or terrorist.  We are not Delta operators, ergo and therefore goes this flawed thinking, that we are insufficiently trained to respond.

Instills confidence in you, does it not?

First of all, a hyper-violent suspect, (think Dallas or Baton Rouge), or terrorist (i.e. San Bernardino or Orlando), looks to:

  • Target unarmed citizens who are incapable of an armed or effective response,
  • Ambush or assault their chosen victims without warning,
  • Count on panic to instill the “fleeing and freezing” parts of the – fight, flight or freeze response,
  • Quickly rack up a “body count” before the police can respond,
  • Assault “target rich environments,
  • Commit suicide or die at the hands of police officers when confronted

Assaults at malls, colleges, high schools, high congregations of their chosen “targets”(in case of the Ft. Hood terrorist this even included unarmed but well trained military personnel), take advantage of gun free zones.

But it all starts with a violent act.  Be that a gunshot of the suspect on their first chosen victim or even a machete or knife attack as recently occurred in Japan.  Oftentimes, in the case of terrorism, this initial bloodletting is designed to throw victims into an SNS response where “hypervigilance” takes over and they are caught like deer in the headlights, cower in fear in a fetal position or, make feeble attempts at hiding.

Like shooting fish in a barrel – is how so many active shooters or terrorists approach their task, simply going from one victim to another as violently and fast as they can.

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So How Can You Stop Them?

First of all, properly trained and armed cops and citizens have distinct advantages in these violent attacks:

  • They have training,
  • They have envisioned the assault beforehand,
  • They have experience operating within the SNS response,
  • They are armed

Notice I prefaced my list of positive attributes based on proper training.  It is certainly true that not all firearm’s training programs are equal.  Training that is relevant, realistic, and repeated on a regular basis creates the proper motor skills to help the citizen, whether private or police officer, respond aggressively and properly.

After all, this isn’t rocket science folks!  They are trying to inflict maximum damage through the use of small arms or edged weapons, and you are trying to stop them from doing so!  Grenades and I.E.D.’s have not been the standard in U.S. attacks, pistols and/or carbines have.

This can and indeed has been done.  Proper application of the fundamentals in an aggressive counterattack is the solution to this problem.  Beyond the application of fundamentals we must progress American police firearms and tactical training to include:

  • Drawing and shooting from positions other than static/standing, including: while seated; on the ground in all manner – on your back, side, prone, urban prone, supine
  • Moving aggressively off the attack line
  • Shooting on the move – forward, rearward and angling away from the threat to both sides
  • Dynamic use of cover positions including moving into position and adapting to a moving suspect
  • Moving and aggressive targets
  • Addressing elevated targets – dealing with snipers who have the high ground
  • Dealing with chaotic moving innocent “non-shoot” citizens in the way
  • One handed shooting
  • Injured officer drills – running the gun with the offhand only
  • “Moving – Move” Drills – how to advance or retreat from a threat while a partner or other officer covers
  • Low or subdued light training with handheld or weapon mounted lights
  • Trauma care – self and buddy care under fire, and the use of tourniquets and hemostatic agents
  • Deployment and training while wearing hard body armor (rifle plates) and using carbines

Too much of American law enforcement firearms training has revolved around passing meaningless qualifications at the expense of developing problem solvers who can stop hyper-violent suspects.  We are turning out vast numbers of LEO’s who can stand in one spot and put holes in a wide piece of paper.  We are not developing lawmen who can jump in the deep end of the pool with violent sharks and prevail.

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To Get There

Simple exercises like:

  • Aggressively moving off the “X” while drawing and being forced to identify, finding a safe shooting angle, and then neutralize a threat which is amongst other non-shoots
  • Using cover while a moving target attempts to flank you or otherwise changes positions
  • Dealing with an injured gun hand or other injury while aggressively responding to a violent assault against you
  • Confronting a suspect in an elevated position

We need not think that these events must be live-fire.  Indeed, few police ranges and agencies have facilities and enough role-players to be able to do this training on a regular basis.  But we do have marking cartridges such as Force on Force, UTM and Simunition rounds.  We have airsoft pistols which cost fractions of a cent to train with.  We can use paint ball “markers.”  We have excellent targets like those from Omaha Targets to shoot or not shoot with any of these training tools.  We even have SIRT pistols which project a laser beam when “fired.”  A low cost “moving target system” can be developed with a gravity system using cables and pulleys or fixed to a wheeled “cart” pulled by the instructor with a rope.

Valuable and dynamic training can be done with training rounds and paper targets and a little ingenuity in a city garage, abandoned factory or business or even outside in a field or parking lot.

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In Sum

Henry Ford said, “If you always do what you’ve always done, you’ll always get what you’ve always got.”

Bad guys have morphed and become more violent and are attacking us.  It is time to change from what “you’ve always done,” because it is not working.  Simple, relevant, realistic training repeated on a regular basis, that’s the key.

*This blogpost is dedicated to these fine members of Dallas area and Baton Rouge law enforcement who paid the ultimate price: Lorne Ahrens, Michael Krol, Michael Smith, Brent Thompson, Patrick Zamparripa, Montrel Jackson, Brad Garafola, and Mathew Gerald

Kevin R. Davis

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