Thursday, July 12, 2007

Good lessons even for us civilians

I found two very interesting articles on police survival and deadly force.

This one is filled with insight and lessons learned:

Not everything is applicable to civilians and some of the lessons require modifications. For example:

FBI’s annual “Officer Killed” summary, the statistics show that officers tend to die in close, not just at 7 yards but at 7 feet, and they tend to neutralize their attackers and survive unscathed as the distances increase.

Distance buys time. Waiting buys time. Time buys survival.

There are few “immutable laws” of police officer survival that go to 100% but this one reaches about 99%. Distance and time will generally favor the police officer that is the first to respond to a life-threatening crisis that involves armed criminals

Very true, but sometimes hard to apply in self-defense situations. Often, trouble (i.e. the criminal) finds us; we do not have the option to wait for reinforcements or maintain a safe distance. Nonetheless, it is always smart to train with the idea that distance is (usually) our friend.*

This advice, however, is true for everyone:

W- Have a plan, Twining and Davis had a plan and they out gunned twice their number of highly trained lawman. The responding CHP officers didn’t…and they died.

A - Always Maintain the Advantage over the opponent. Gore and Frago initially had the tactically dominant position and officer survival experts who interviewed the surviving Bobby Davis believe that he and Twining would have surrendered if the two officers had not abandoned their tactically superior position

This refers to the Newhall Incident when two ex-cons murdered four CHP officers. This defense trainer has a slide show that illustrates the events of that night.

I especially like it because he proves that you do not need fancy CGI software to make a useful training tool.

This article has a chilling glimpse into the mindset of one of the Newhall killers.

“I talked to him for quite a bit,” he recalls. According to Madden, Twining described for him the moments leading up to the shooting of Gore and Frago. The two cons had briefly contemplated surrendering as they were pulled over.

“He told me that he was looking in the side-view mirror and they were debating whether they were going to give up. And he looks in the mirror and he could see [Frago] with the shotgun as he walked up to the car and there was still tape around the slide, which means there was nothing happening,” Madden says. The tape around the slide meant the patrolman had not cycled a round into the chamber – he wasn’t locked and loaded.

For a criminal like Twining, that was like the scent of blood in the air.

“He told me the patrolman actually looked embarrassed, like he didn’t want to be there. So [Twining] just said ‘Fuck it’ and bailed out and started shooting

I've heard (and read) too many people talk about the wonderful intimidation power of their chosen weapons. "All i have to do is rack the slide on my shotgun and they will run away." "Once they see the size of the hole at the end of my .45 they'll give up."

It is hogwash and dangerous to boot. Unless you are prepared to use the gun, it is just a hunk of metal. Twining's confession shows that criminals can be frighteningly savvy in sizing up the threat. (Hint: they are seldom scared of a chunk of steel and wood.)

It also is important to remember that it only took 2 or 3 seconds for Twining and Davis to seize the tactical initiatve.

So mindset matters and so does focus.

* This is a problem i have with many "practical pistol" courses. I've seen many that require the shooter to move toward distant targets. Dumb idea. It makes for a good game but represents poor tactics.