Thursday, May 7, 2009

Range Accident

Vest Saves Officer in Accidental Shooting at Range

Ideally, range training should take place in the same conditions as your field operations. Wearing your full uniform, to include body armor on the range is an excellent way to train. Your handheld radio, baton, Taser and all your gear will give you a different feel to your gun belt. Having all the gear on may make you move slower when you practice shooting and moving.

Your duty trousers may ride higher up then your blue jeans and so may make it harder to draw your handgun from the holster. Wearing your body armor at the range may make it more difficult to achieve certain shooting stances than just wearing your tee shirt. Your duty shoes may not be as conducive to running around cover and moving to a new shooting stances than your off duty tennis shoes.

Those officers who wear an alternative uniform, like bike patrol, K-9 handlers, or detectives should go to the range in their usual attire. Their firearm should be kept just as it is when they are on duty. If the detective wears a shoulder holster, then he should unsnap, draw and fire from his shoulder holster on the range. All of these officers should also train at least annually in full regular uniform in the event they end up on patrol due to an emergency or staffing shortage. Train under the same conditions you work and your training will be the better for it; that's what the SGT Says.


Texas Ghostrider said...

As a member of "Discharge firearm in line of duty" club, I AGREE! When the shit hits the fan, you react how you were trained and how you pratice. Train hard, train to win!


Here is my 2 cents:

Can your traffic vest be more important than your bulletproof vest during an active shooter?

During an active shooter training scenario (See end of blog for the scenario) one point became pretty clear. Cops are probably going to shoot cops. During our realistic scenario almost everyone shot another uniformed officer.

The fact is cops are ramped up and speed to shoot instinctively becomes the most important issue for them. To increase speed, shortcuts are made by officers and one is obviously target identification.

Part of the problem comes from the traditional methods of training. We drill officers to watch the hands and then identify bad guys during scenarios by putting weapons in their hands. We have neglected to teach looking at the whole person first. This causes friendly fire incidents when speed is paramount and all the good guys have weapons in their hands too.

Beliefs vs. Reality:

During training we take for granted that we will identify the other police officers because:

Belief: They are wearing uniforms
Reality: In practice uniforms didn’t do much. They are a plain color without immediately apparent police identification on the back or sides. The front isn’t much better. The shiny badge and buttons are small details and are not immediate apparent in your peripheral vision or upon a quick glance. The polo shirt or BDU shirt uniforms were more effective during scenarios because they had “POLICE” in big type on the front and back.

Belief: Other officers are our friends; we know what they look like.
Reality: During active shooters every cop in town drops what they are doing and rushes to the scene. That will include detectives, undercovers, off-duty officers, and officers from other agencies.

If the active shooter happens in a school or mall there will also be SROs or security officers involved. When is the last time you did anything with the local SRO? Most young patrol officers don’t recognize any of them.

Belief: We are moving as a group and not getting separated.
Reality: Cops will be entering the building from different locations and at different times. There will be multiple officers separately searching for the shooter.

Belief: Officers will coordinate their locations, efforts, and intentions by radio, yelling to each other, and using hand signals.
Reality: With fire alarms going off, the physiological effect of auditory exclusion, gunfire, etc. the ability to communicate will be severely hampered. Radio communications can be questionable because there is too much information pouring into a single channel.

The fog of war will be in full effect during this incident so we need to plan for it.

Solution: Use a traffic vest!!

A simple solution for these problems appears to be wearing your traffic vest when you go in. It is instantly recognizable from all angles.

Additionally, many officers have already done training repetitions not shooting officers wearing traffic vests during Force on Force training because the instructors wear them to identify themselves as off limits. Whether officers realized it or not they were getting training repetitions of not shooting people wearing traffic vests.

The obvious disadvantage for wearing a traffic vest is that officers are more identifiable for the suspect. But the suspect is shooting everything that moves anyway. Looking like a walking traffic cone may actually surprise him and give an officer the half second he or she needs to get shots on target before the suspect reacts.

Final Thoughts:
I think in the initial phase of an active shooter, the benefits of wearing the traffic vest outweigh the negatives. When things stabilize because the shooter has stopped, is contained, and officers on scene have begun coordinating their efforts effectively you can lose the vest. But in the beginning, it appears as important as your bulletproof vest so wear them both.


Actual Training Scenario:

As participants we were told there were at least two shooters but we suspected there were more inside a large grocery store. We were in uniform and armed with Simmunition F/X marking cartridges.

We entered the scenario one at a time during 30 second intervals so we immediately lost track of each other. The fire alarm was going off and the stress made auditory exclusion kick in. Officers yelling 5 feet apart could not hear what the other was saying. Attempts to communicate and coordinate were unsuccessful. Hearing the direction shots were coming from was extremely difficult.

Unbeknownst to us, the instructors had sprayed water on the concrete floors to simulate fire sprinklers. Several officers went sliding into walls while running across them. Also unbeknownst to us, the instructors sent in extra uniformed officers (SROs?) from different entrances. Those officers were shot several times because the original officers responding were not expecting them and didn’t see the uniforms until it was too late.

Eventually the bad guys were shot but the results were not what we would consider success. Despite surprising officers several times while walking around during the scenario, no instructor wearing a traffic vest was shot.

S/SGT. T. Hanna Reg. #36739

Office: 204-888-0358
ext. 2312

12:33 AM 5/8/2009

Bunkermeister said...

Texas Ghostrider, you are right, train to win!

Bunkermeister said...

Police Diver, you are awesome. Good advice.