FEATURED IN TACTICS AND WEAPONS
When/Then...thinking has been a staple of law enforcement for years. You should always plan and train for contingencies.
Things seldom go as planned and you should always be ready for "Mr. Murphy" to show up on scene. Focusing on end goals versus specific tactics and techniques requires that you always have a Plan B in-store ready to go.
"I love it when a plan comes together," so said Colonel "Hannibal" Smith (George Peppard) of the A-Team TV show. In truth his comments were usually made when plans fell apart. It is a Murphy kind of world, which simply means that your favorite suspect control technique, the pepper spray that "stops Grizzly Bears" or the TASER that has always worked before...all can fail out on the street. If you're betting on one move, tool or technique to save the day you can often be disappointed (and injured as a result) when things don't go as planned. Murphy's Law states that "Whatever can go wrong will go wrong and at the worst possible time." Or as Robert Burns said (loosely translated from the Gaelic), "The best-laid plans of mice and men/often go awry."
Man is Tough to Stop or Control
A committed and motivated human being is tough to stop or control. Hell bent on escape, assault or even your demise, that suspect doesn't know he's supposed to be impressed with all the fancy control holds or incapacitating devices you've used against him. The fight or flight reflex of the sympathetic nervous system secretes those powerful chemicals and painkillers into the suspect's bloodstream, as well as yours. Yes, wrenching on someone's joints can cause pain, Oleoresin capsicum can be excruciating when sprayed in your eyes, and one wonders how a subject can stand up to or be suitably unimpressed when hit with 50,000 volts from an electronic control device, but motivated or pumped-up suspects resist these attempts at control every day. Throw in some alcohol, drugs or both, as well as the natural painkillers from the body, and you have a hard dude to put down. There is no magic bullet to control a violent suspect--no OC spray, electronic device or, for that matter, real bullet from your duty pistol or patrol carbine. Suspects have taken intense punishment including gunfire over the years and still stayed in the fight. So should you.
Facing stark violence or intense resistance is shocking to many officers that have not been exposed to the realities of the street when they were younger. I remember an incident in seventh grade in a very violent school I attended. John, a good kid from a good family, had problems with Karlos, a miscreant of the first order from the streets. John asked Karlos to step outside after school one day. John squared off, apparently thinking it was Marquis of Queensbury rules. Karlos punched John in the face, closed the gap, threw John to the cement and stabbed him with a homemade shiv. John survived and I, a witness to the incident, had a light bulb of understanding go off about violence and violent people.
You must make the commitment that regardless of what happens you will win and you will go home at the end of your shift. The way to ensure that happens is through training.
The goal of your endeavor at suspect control is control of the suspect. Regardless of how that control is facilitated, that is the end goal. The goal is not to accomplish a joint lock or using some device but rather a committed law enforcement officer (You) focusing on taking care of business. Too often in law enforcement, we buy into the marketing of training or products as being fail safe. Then when our Plan A technique or control device fails, we stand like a deer caught in the headlights with an extended lag time to respond. When we mentally develop contingencies (options) we can flow through one technique or tactic to another focused on the goal of winning despite what happens.
Opposite of the "one option" concept is to have too many. Confronted with a sudden violent resister, the brain is overloaded with options and you literally have a "log jam" of techniques that you could do, but aren't doing. Typically this response is the result of a training program that offered too many tactics or techniques, none of which are practiced to competency. Some instructors teach, "You can do this, or you can do that, or this technique might work, or try this..." On the street, this mental log jam slows response time, and since all these skills were never repeated to competence, let alone mastery, only half-hearted attempts are made.
Vertical Decision Making
A better way than the log jam of many options is vertical decision making, as advocated by my friend and Pressure Point Control Tactics (PPCT ) pioneer Bruce Siddle. You try Plan A. If it doesn't work, you go to B. if B doesn't work, then you go to C. The idea is that you have options planned and trained for, but they flow off one another, instead of like a large pool of techniques to choose from. In firearms, this may mean you receive the stimulus to shoot (the threat) that leads to a combat draw-stroke and attempts to fire the pistol at the suspect. If the pistol doesn't fire, you tap, rack and if the threat still exists, attempt to fire again. If that doesn't work, you unload and then reload the pistol. With training the above sequence can be done seamlessly, on the move, in low light, etc.
It is You and Your Training
Officers who have faced extreme resistance, including being shot with rifles or multiple times at close range, have commented later that they didn't have time to think and reverted to their training. In this extreme example of Plan B Thinking, even when shot, they focused on what they had to do to win. It is you and your intent to win that will make a tactic or technique work and will motivate you to keep going to another option when it doesn't. And it is you that must train now to develop Plan A, B, or whatever it takes to win.
If your plans can go awry in the field so can the suspect's. Be a hardened target, anticipate resistance, plan for contingencies and thwart the suspect's attempts at escape or assault by an intensity of purpose. Train to win and train for options. Have an ace up your sleeve and a derringer in your pocket through your training by having a Plan "B" ready to go. Fight, move, and communicate and take care of business! When Mr. Murphy of Murphy's Law shows on scene...kick him to the curb and carry on!