Sunday, May 3, 2009

Body Armor

Pittsburgh officers were killed by a man wearing body armor. The suspect was hit several times in the legs but was not immediately incapacitated by those hits. Officer training should include shooting at the suspects head and upper body, areas not covered by most armor. Shooting at the lower body is also important, the pelvic girdle is seldom covered by armor either.

The most appropriate weapon for situations with suspects armed with long guns and wearing body armor is the patrol rifle. A patrol rifle and it's ammunition should be selected for it's ability to defeat most common body armor. If your agency does not field a patrol rifle, then a selection of rounds that will penetrate body armor when fired from the shotgun should be in the field with each shotgun.

There are many legitimate reasons for civilians to wear body armor. People who carry large sums of money, or jewelry, someone who is being stalked, or who work in dangerous jobs may need to wear body armor. Public figures and people who live or work in high crime areas may choose to wear body armor. We should not work to ban body armor for anyone but police, we need to train to defeat body armor when we encounter dangerous suspects wearing it; that's what the SGT Says.


Snickering Corpses said...

Something I've wondered before, which this post brought to mind... I'm a civilian myself, so no police training to know the answer from. Several years ago, there was a short-lived TV series, fictional, centered around a sheriff's department (LA area, I think).

There was an episode in which a young trainee's choice to try a leg shot on a suspect who was charging his trainer with a knife was called into question as to whether he'd demonstrated an unwillingness to shoot to kill when necessary. In the process, they spoke multiple times that the training for a charging, armed suspect was "Two to the body, one to the head." It made sense, but I've always wondered if this was an actual police procedure for such situations.

It reminded me also of a situation several years ago in my nearest large city, where a homeowner was faced with a large man high on drugs breaking into his home. He ended up having to shoot the man 3 or 4 times with a .357 magnum round in the chest before the man finally went down. The ability to take heavy wounds while feeling no pain from drugs would seem to be another situation where a headshot can be important for protecting yourself, your partners, and civilians.

I always wonder at police dramas on television where the bank robber comes out in a bullet-proof vest and all the police seem to be shooting him in the chest. I know this is because the writers want the big dramatic chase sequence, manhunt sequence, whatever as the armored criminal escapes. But it's always bothered me that no one seems to think to aim for the face. It made me wonder, for the real life police, how much training on the range and such covers headshots?

Protect_and_Serve said...

Do not believe ANYTHING you see in a TV Cop show.

Bunkermeister said...

Two shots to chest and one shot to the face is a common training topic at my agency. A head shot can be very difficult because the head is very small and can move quickly. Even well trained police can miss it easily from very close range.

Shooting people in the legs or shooting the gun out of their hands is not a good practice. It is too easy to miss and too unlikely to stop the suspect immediately.

Bunkermeister said...

The willingness to use deadly force is a difficult problem for many people. It is something that all those who want to be police should talk over with their family and spiritual advisors before they enter training. It is also a good idea to review that option from time to time.