I am still amazed by the number of cops who believe they'll never be in an armed confrontation. Their justification for this is usually, "The vast majority of cops never shoot their gun at anyone in 25 years. Why should I think I'll be any different?" Think about it this way: Do you carry a spare tire in your personal vehicle? Do you have health and life insurance? Do you carry a cell phone? Sure, statistically, the odds that you'll have a flat tire or automobile accident are low, but is that reason enough not to have a spare or to buy insurance? Would you go on the street without your gun, baton, radio or other necessary equipment? Chances are you won't need them, but is that a good reason to leave them behind?
Let's take a moment to understand what it is that cops really do. Forget about all of the "Officer Friendly" stuff, which by the way is important, we're just not focusing on it here. At the basic level, cops are put on the street to seek out and interdict those that would prey on the citizens we are sworn to protect. At that point, they must place themselves between the predators and they prey.
With that fact in mind, what are the chances that you'll face a violent confrontation? Sure, if you're risk averse you might be able to avoid such a confrontation, but what kind of cop are you? Not the type that I'd want watching my back, that's for sure.
Let's look at the harsh reality of law enforcement: It's a dangerous world out there, and you're here to make it safer. By doing so, you might have to meet violence with violence. So what do you do? Are you prepared to fight for your life? Forget agency policy and public opinion. At the moment of confrontation it's just you and them, and the side that can keep their cool and respond will prevail. The downside is that you might be responding to an attack an ambush really and if you didn't see the fight coming, then you'll be way behind. In 1732, Thomas Fuller said, "The man surprised is half-beaten," so we've known about lag time for a long time. Are you really ready? I hope so. If not, then it's time to start right now.
The word mindset is defined as "a set path based on a previous decision, a decision based on reason and intellect." Where does one get reason and intellect? From life experience and training. Because many people now enter law enforcement without ever having experienced any violence (zero tolerance for the school-yard fight that used to be handled with a "sit-down" by the principal who tried to find out who was right and who was wrong), training becomes even more important. In 1960, Chic Gaylord, the master holster-maker from New York, said, "The peace officer who is psychologically unprepared for a gunfight is fighting two people when he goes into a gunfight. He must conquer both himself and his adversary." Quite frankly, if you have not made the previous decision to fight, you won't be an active participant in your own rescue. When a fight comes your way, what do you do? Hopefully, you have the fundamental skills needed to run your gun effectively. Without them, your firearm is just an expensive paper weight.
The following are essential tips for prevailing during a violent confrontation:
1. Stay in the fight: History has shown that the person who gets the first solid hit will probably win, so hit what you're shooting at if you want to end the fight now. Yes, you might get shot in the process, but just because you're shot doesn't mean you'll die. As a matter of fact, if you're not killed instantly or bleed out in a few minutes due to a major vessel being cut, you probably won't die.
2. Stay alert: A high level of awareness will help you find other hostiles. Think about your own youth. When were you most likely to do something stupid? That's right, when you were with other people. Felons are no different, so look for the others.
3. Call for backup as soon as you can: The more prepared officers there are on scene, the more likely you'll prevail. We all know there's safety in numbers, so get help. In addition, as a veteran officer once told me, "It's better to get you're a** kicked with someone."
4. Medical self-help: If you don't wear your body armor, you're stupid. It's as simple as that. It will save your life. In a gunfight, not getting shot is the goal, and armor does this. Wear it. If you're shot, however, stay calm and treat yourself. Stop the blood from leaving your body and call for help. In most areas of the country, trained paramedics are just minutes away. It's your job to give them those minutes so they can help you. A number of street level trauma care courses are available, many from the better-known shooting schools. I'd suggest you attend one. After all, it is your life.