Tactical Tip Of The Week
Grand Master Louis M. Chiodo
Welcome back to those who have been reading the “Tactical Tip Of The Week”. For those who are new to these postings, you can find the previous postings in my website, www.gunfightersltd.com or in my Face Book page, Gunfighters Ltd. Combat Shooting Methods Inc. I sincerely hope you can benefit from the information in these postings.
First, I wish all who are reading this a great 2016 and I hope your training is productive. This will not be a long article but I want to discuss an issue that will most likely be more geared towards the law enforcement community but the principles that I will discuss can have application to anyone who is training for the real world.
During the past couple of months we have seen many incidents of violence that has targeted the civilian and law enforcement community. When analyzing many of these incidents, there are some common circumstances that seem to be reoccurring and many have similar characteristics. Of course, each incident can have variations, but there are also similarities that cannot be overlooked.
I wrote an article that is in the achieves in my website, www.gunfightersltd.com, that discussed the issue of patrol tactics that need to be analyzed to ensure they are giving officers the greatest ability to win the fights that are becoming increasingly more brazen. All tactics must be periodically evaluated and modified as necessary to meet the threat environment.
At various times in history, the adversary’s tactics and/or equipment have caused significant problems and casualties because the tactics of the friendly forces are not modified to take into account the capabilities of the tactics or equipment used against them. A vivid example of this is the arrival of crew-served machine guns on the battlefield. In World War I, tens of thousands of soldiers on both sides of the conflict were killed because the tactics used (frontal assault over open terrain right up the middle) just didn’t work against entrenched machine guns in well-protected positions. The commanders continued to order these assaults even though the loss of life was beyond imagination by today’s standards.
So what does this have to do with law enforcement tactics and for the civilian community? On April 5, 1970, my former agency, the California Highway Patrol, suffered significant loss in the infamous “Newhall Incident”. I have no intention to rehash the dynamics of the incident but use it as a means of bringing you the main point of this article.
The “Newhall Incident” caused agencies throughout the country to analyze their training methods, enforcement tactics and equipment. Better training methods, safer patrol tactics, and better equipment were developed after the incident. In conjunction with this, agencies changed policies and procedures to support the new developments and provide sounds guidelines for the officers in the field.
I believe we are in a similar position now. All agencies need to start the process of analyzing EVERYTHING in their policies and procedures in relation to patrol tactics, equipment and training. I must add that merely adding equipment isn’t enough. The equipment needs a person to operate it. A handgun or rifle is only as good as the person who will fight with it. Also, great equipment without sound tactics will simply get an officer killed or wounded while deploying that great equipment.
As an example, if we are seeing the vast majority of officers being killed or wounded that are in a patrol car by themselves, adjusting the policy of one officer patrol units to mandating two officer patrol units can should be entertained in an attempt to change the outcome of some of these incidents. I worked a two-trooper patrol car for my entire career and I can tell you without ANY hesitation that it stopped many incidents from developing before it could begin. The mere presence of two-troopers and using contact and cover tactics put the suspect in such a disadvantaged position. In many instances, they didn’t attempt to fight and for the times that they did, having immediate cover from a partner is exponentially better than having a unit at an unknown distance from you trying to get to your location to help. I have heard the arguments about coverage and fewer visible patrol cars out etc. Sorry, for me, those are illogical arguments against changing policy. Dead officers, deputies or troopers can’t patrol again. The department has to pay death benefits, rehire another person to fill the vacancy, and, more importantly, suffer the loss of a department member. If more officers are needed, then management needs to demonstrate to the city, county or state why it is needed and fight for it.
Another critical issue (and one I am intimately involved in) is the training of the officers. Whenever I hear that there isn’t time to do the training from someone, all I can think about is that they aren’t making use of the time that they have to do CRITICAL training. Many entities that control peace officer standards create so many training requirements that valuable time that could be available to do “critical “ training” gets eaten up by doing training blocks that could either be done in more condensed formats (way too much time is required given the subject matter) or the training block could be broken up into smaller sections and simply done as briefing room training at the beginning of a shift. Time is gold and we don’t have time to waste. So, I would recommend analyzing the time allocation of training that is being required and work to correct any unbalance in time spent conducting training.
The last issue that I think is important to this discussion is ensuring proper equipment is available to the law enforcement officers that will be the first to deal with the various scenarios confronted in the course of their duties. The first responding officers need the immediate ability to engage the suspect(s) and end the confrontation as rapidly as possible. Whenever we see an incident of terrorism or an active shooter happen, we see the well equipped, and trained SWAT personnel arrive on scene. These tactical teams are an outstanding resource and an integral part of a total law enforcement response. The problem is that their arrival on scene can often be after the first responding patrol units have arrived on scene. Those first responding units will generally bear the brunt of dealing with the active threat. While is an impressive sight seeing armored vehicles arrive with heavily armed SWAT teams that bring with them an incredible capability, the officers that will be the first ones to arrive on scene will only have the equipment with them to deal with the threat.
Exactly what do they have with them? As a lone officer or possible one of a small number of officers present you generally have the same gear you have with you on any given day. You have a basic police uniform, your duty pistol and what can be carry on your duty belt and, if you are fortunate, a patrol rifle. This is what the vast number of patrol officers will have with them to deal with any threat they face during any given shift. What would you want to have with you when you are the first to confront a threat, or in some cases, multiple threats? Here are some useful items that would bring a higher level of safety and capability to the patrol officers that would mostly be the first to deal with the threat:
- Ballistic helmet
- Ballistic shield(s)
- Patrol rifle
- A ballistic plate carrier with plates designed to stop rifle rounds
- Spare magazines, emergency first aid kit and other personal equipment attached to the plate carrier
- A small mirror to clear around corners without exposing any part of the body (I have one that is virtually unbreakable and can fit into a uniform shirt pocket. There is a folding handle that works exceptionally well
I am sure there are other items that individuals would want and this is only a list of a few items that can make a difference in many of the scenarios that we can face. These items can be kept in the patrol car and upon arrival on scene be immediately brought into service. On a side note, when responding to active shooter scenes or scenes where there are shots fired prior to arrival, rather than pulling up in front of the scene and running rapidly into an unknown situation, a patrol officer can stop short of the location where the incident is happening and gear up. It only takes a few seconds to put a vest and headgear on. Pulling directly in front of a “hot” area is never a good idea so you are not sacrificing anything by taking these few seconds to be ready. Remember, nothing says that you don’t have to confront an exterior threat prior to entering a building where an active shooter is located. So driving up directly in line of sight of the location exposes you to potential rifle fire form an external threat. You have to be alive to do anybody any good.
I want to end by addressing the non-law enforcement readers. This is my opinion and I state it in that light. We always hear the term “first responders”. This describes the law enforcement, fire service and paramedic/EMT responders. I would like to put this thought out to you. Simply stated, YOU are your first responder. A main reason why there are victims is because there ISN’T law enforcement there to immediately provide protection. The other is that the ”victim” doesn’t have the means immediately available to stop the threat. Do everything in your means to get proper equipment and training so you can use that equipment effectively. Having firearms, and unarmed combat training is a great start to make your “first response” effective and timely. If you have a concealed carry permit – carry your firearm. It doesn’t do you any good locked up at home.
There are many other issues that can be discussed in relation to what is in this article. This is merely a part of a larger picture. I hope everyone has a great training year in 2016.
Train hard and be safe.
Louis M. Chiodo