FEATURED IN TRAINING
The National Shooting Sports Foundation (NSSF) and Law Officer have teamed up to bring law enforcement officers top-tier educational content at the NSSF’s SHOT Show conference in Las Vegas, Jan. 18–22. If you missed it this year, check Law Officer and LawOfficer.com for the most up-to-date information on next year’s show.
Following are tips from the educational speakers who appeared at this year’s conference.
Active Shooter: A New Approach
By Craig Dickerson
Over the last several years, active shooter training has been refined: Techniques, tactics, weapons and tools have improved. Most officers have received some type of critical incident response training. We’ve added school resource officers (SRO). We teach officers to attack rather than wait for more resources. (Some might argue with this, but if your child was at risk, you wouldn’t wait a second.) We’ve also cut the five-person attack team to whoever arrives: The first to arrive can’t afford to wait five minutes for the nearest resources. Remember: The SRO needs help—now. Imagine it’s your child in there.
The patrol entry has traditionally been the same as the SWAT entry—why?
SWAT has expertise in this area and has been tasked with the training in most departments, and as a SWAT guy for 17 years, I also taught these tactics to patrol. After the academy and teaching force-on-force active shooter tactics, however, we found some SWAT tactics weren’t suited for patrol.
We’ve come up with a different entry, which has been tested by hundreds of students and instructors from different departments. We call it “Hybrid Entry.” Once the door goes open, it’s a two-step technique with shots taken from outside the room using cover from the doorway. This is done by the single officer or a two-man team. It takes two seconds to complete this technique, which is taught everyday on the ranges around the world: Shoot from behind cover, maximizing patrol equipment.
In-service 2009 we trained more than 1,000 people in three plain clothes duty/off duty active shooter drills. These drills simulate officers shopping in the mall or going out to eat. Officers were told to bring at least one form of ID, which is required when armed. Before the scenarios start, we brief the class: If cover is available officers should seek it, remove their ID and communicate with those around them as the weapon is drawn.
One of the drills involved officers going out to eat. Two Officers were seated away from the door in the restaurant, which was occupied by roll players and dummies. Often, the officers running in with guns drawn were engaged by the seated officers who presumed these were bad guys. We also found that the badge on the belt and around the neck can’t be seen by most. What worked best was the Florissant Arm Band in the non-shooting hand, which we’ve issued to all our officers.
It’s worth time, training and money to bring our fellow officers home at night. Remember: Not everyone who carries a gun is a bad guy; ensure you ID the armed person before pulling the trigger.
Craig Dickerson is a 25-year veteren of The Montgomery County (Md.)Police Department. Dickerson spent 15 of those years as a full-time SWAT member and for the last 5 years he’s been a training academy instructor. Contact Dickerson at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Faster on the Draw
By Dave Young
Officers are typically issued firearms and holsters by their agencies. You secure the firearm inside the holster and qualify on the range, attend some in-service training at your agency and anything more from the agency is a fairy tale. But some still don’t get it: Training is not something your agency needs to pay for; rather, it’s something you do because it will save your life.
Just look at the most recent tragedy in Lakewood, Wash. What kind of holsters were these officers wearing? How familiar were they with the gear they had? Why did it take them long to draw and engage the threat? We’ll never know the answers to these questions but the results are the same, and our prayers go out to their families.
Here are five tips to improve draw speed:
- Ensure your holster is built for gross motor skill operation. Anything that requires that you remember to rock back or push forward is terrible to negotiate when it counts. The same goes for pass codes. The bottom line: Anything more than “break snap, draw firearm, engage threat” can cost you your life.
- Become familiar with your holster. All skills are perishable, so practice daily. Practice all common and uncommon positions from which you may have to access your firearm and draw.
- Clothing plays a vital role in the ability to access your firearm and draw when needed—especially jackets and gloves. Incorporate these into your personal survival exercise.
- Practice drawing using both your strong and support hand; simulate various fingers injured or broken; and even use
vision impairment exercises when practicing.
- Once you get your holster from your agency, don’t let your firearm sit inside your holster until your life will depend on it the most. It shouldn’t be a secret or surprise to get your weapon to your threat.
In closing, the relationship between officers and their firearms and holsters is one of the most important relationships in their careers—something you must use when your life depends on it. You must view training as an insurance policy. What type of deductible do you want? For me I want no deduction. You?
Dave Young is the founder and director of ARMA Training, which offers training to law enforcement, corrections, security and military worldwide. ARMA is an internationally recognized training organization that has a global training initiative that specializes in basic, instructor, master levels training programs for all emergency services professionals.
By Robert Hindi
New officers must prove thorough proficiency in order to graduate from the academy. And yet, academies have had no real way of assessing the efficiency of mandated duty belt configurations—until now. Most officers are usually allowed to configure their belts—without any real knowledge of combat ergonomics, economy of motion, elements of surprise and tactics for escalation of force. Too often gear is stored where it most convenient, not for when it matters most.
The bottom line: Your belt contains the keys to your survival on the street, so you better know what you’re doing. Following are some general rules for your duty belt.
- Leave your holster free and clear of clutter. When you go for your gun, nothing can be allowed to get in the way—not even close.
- Don’t place cuffs over your lumbar area—an unlucky fall and you’re out of commission. And when you really need them, do you really want to be reaching for something you can’t see?
- All force equipment—including gun magazines—must be ambidextrously accessible.
- Cell phones, digital cameras, PDAs and other digital do-dads are of secondary importance. Don’t give them primary placement on your duty belt. In most cases, they don’t belong on your belt at all.
In general, keep the important life-saving use-of-force equipment up front, where they are visible and accessible with either hand. Consider not just placement, but also the angle of the draw and weak/strong hand delineations. You need to get this stuff as quickly as possible. You must know the difference between a lethal and less lethal: The difference between threat elimination and threat mitigation is literally the difference between life and death.
For more great tips and information about my Hindi Duty Belt S.A.F.E.T.Y. system, visit www.batoncap.com.
Robert Hindi is a 21-year veteran officer of the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department. He has served as a patrol training officer, canine officer, resident section officer and is currently assigned to the Airport Bureau/Homeland Security Division.
Why Things Go Wrong
By Gordon Graham
Here’s a fact for you to ponder: The vast majority of things you do in your job end up going right. There’s a reason why this is true. We have good people working for us, and the average incident that our personnel get involved in is a “high-frequency” event—fancy talk for “been there, done that.” And that combination—good people with experience—is very powerful. It leads to getting things done right.
The bad news: When things don’t go right, there are significant consequences. We call up our lawyers to handle our consequences, and they do a darn fine job at that. But real risk management isn’t about “handling consequences.” Rather, risk management is about studying consequences and looking for cause.
There are two principle reasons why things don’t go right. These are intentional misconduct —where someone did something bad on purpose—and negligent conduct —where someone made a mistake. Most of our problems come from our own good people making honest mistakes. You can call them errors or omissions or lapses or foul-ups or anything else you want. I like the word mistake.
Consider a matrix that I learned about in grad school 35 years ago, the risk/frequency matrix. Basically, there are four extremes: low-risk, low-frequency; low-risk, high-frequency; high-risk, low-frequency; and high-risk, high-frequency. When we fully explore this matrix, you’ll learn that mistakes are most likely to occur on high-risk, low-frequency events. Important: Keep your eyes peeled for these, and train hard for them.
Please take the time to work safely.
Gordon Graham is a 33-year veteran of law enforcement with extensive experience in risk management. He holds a juris doctorate from Western State University.
We would like to thank our educational program sponsors, Bushmaster Firearms and Uncle Mike’s Law Enforcement, for their support.