A few days ago, Huffington Post columnist Sabrina Siddiqui wrote a story titled When Cops Shoot, They’re Trained To Kill. They Never Shoot To Wound. In this piece, Siddiqui wrote, “ Officers have long been trained to shoot to kill because that is the only way they say they can neutralize a threat.”
In the very next paragraph she quotes John Firman, director of research, programs, and professional services at the International Association of Chiefs of Police, who clearly stated that police officers do not shoot to kill. Firman also went on to explain why officers are also not trained to “shoot to wound,” as I’ve also detailed on this blog and others, many, many times. In fact, just yesterday I posted an article titled Cops Are Not Trained To Kill.
The title of Siddiqui’s article was extremely misleading, was wholly inaccurate, and was quite possibly an attempt to further stoke the fire surrounding the shooting of Michael Brown. I’d rather believe, though, that Ms. Siddiqui, like many people, simply doesn’t know any better. I’m sure she’s never been exposed to these deadly situations and that’s why her opinion is so obviously skewed. And I’m here to help her understand, if, that is, she’s open to learning (I can recommend a great book about police procedure).
Anyway, yesterday, Siddiqui’s story and headline was revised. Apparently someone deep in the bowels of HuffPo realized the story title was basically a false statement. So it was changed to Why Do Cops So Often Shoot To Kill? The rewrite of it and parts of the article were no better, though—fact-twisted at best. A big squiggle of misleading non-truth included the line, “When faced with a perceived threat, why is it that many officers shoot to kill, rather than simply to wound?” Immediately following the new sentence with the same meaning as the old, Siddiqui again quoted John Firman who shoots down (pun intended) the meaning behind the author’s attention-grabbing headline.
In a possible attempt to further sensationalize police-involved shootings, Ms. Siddiqui waded into the recent police shooting of a knife-wielding St. Louis man. This incident, too, has the public outraged because police shot and killed the suspect who threatened their lives. The outcry over the St. Louis shooting is because much of the public feels that officers should have opted for TASERS instead of firearms. Well, TASERS are not for use when the situation calls for deadly force.
As my former mentor, a salty old sheriff’s captain, once told me, “Never bring a knife to a gun fight, son. You’re bound to lose a perfectly good knife.”
*For everyone out there who has no experience with suspects who charge you while pointing the sharp end of a knife at your midsection, I’m including (below) a copy of an article I wrote about how and why police defend themselves against edged weapon attacks.
As a last attempt to fan the race card flames and poke all cops in the eye, Siddiqui wrote this comment, “Studies have found that police officers are more likely to use excessive force toward black men than toward whites.”
A well-written and unbiased story would have included why this occurs, if it does. So, out of professional curiosity, I followed up on Siddiqui’s source for this comment and found it was an article published by an online magazine called New Republic.
New Republic’s stats were obtained from a college experiment where students were exposed to various video situations. The undergraduates pressed a button when they thought a suspect had “the weapon.” Students in the college study consistently thought a black man had the weapon as opposed to a white man.
HOWEVER, when mostly white police officers were brought in to participate in a similar study…well, I’ll quote the article. “According to a comprehensive comparison of police vs. civilian shooting rates published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, training makes an even clearer difference. Though police officers took longer to decide whether to shoot if the person was black, that analysis found trained officers weren’t influenced by race when it actually came to pulling the trigger.”
Not quite the same study result that Siddiqui wrote, is it?
Okay, I’ve rambled enough. Here’s the article on knife-wielding attackers.
Shoot or Not To Shoot: The 21 Foot Rule
As a long-time police academy instructor and instructor trainer for defensive tactics, officer survival, and weapons retention and disarmament, I feel more than qualified to answer a question I’ve seen popping up on a few expert loops in the recent days. The original question was, “What kind of martial arts technique is best to disarm a knife-wielding suspect who is on the attack.? The answer is quite simple. There is no foolproof technique. The suspect has initiated deadly force and that force must be responded to with the amount of force that’s necessary to stop the threat to the officer’s safety. The officer must defend himself with deadly force, if possible.
There is a long-standing, proven rule that an officer cannot draw, point, and fire his/her weapon if the attacker starts the assault from a distance of 21 away from from the officer (not 25 feet, and not 30 feet), such as in the photo above. We measured this distance to be exactly 21 feet from the attacker’s front foot to the officer’ front foot.
However, if the officer already has his weapon drawn, in the ready position, he’ll be able to effectively fire a round to stop the threat. Remember, officers are taught to shoot center mass, not shoot to kill, or to shoot a weapon from the attacker’s hand. That stuff is for TV.
In the photo above, the officer’s weapon is still in the officer’s holster and he should be contemplating other means of survival, such as running for cover, or preparing to go into a defensive tactics mode – hand-hand combat, with the almost certainty of being cut. I have nasty scars on all five fingers on my right hand, and my head, as proof of this tactic.
In the two photos above the officer would easily be able to stop the threat by firing a round or two.
Now, let’s go back to Sabrina Siddiqui. I think it would be a fantastic idea for each and every one of you to send her a brief email message stating that her story titles are extremely misleading, false, and, well you get the idea. Also, please encourage her to accept my invitation to attend the Writers’ Police Academy. I’d love for her to have the opportunity to see and experience first-hand the things about which she so cluelessly writes. After all, the purpose of the WPA is to educate writers about all things cops and robbers, right?
So here’s my invitation to Sabrina Siddiqui – You are invited, as my guest, to attend the wildly popular Writer’s Police Academy taking place on September 4-7, 2014 in Jamestown, N.C. The WPA is a hands-on event where writers from across the world attend an actual police academy to train and learn about all things cops and robbers in order to bring realism to their stories. I will personally see that you have a spot in the firearms simulation training so you can experience what it’s like to be in an officer’s shoes during an actual shooting or edged weapon situation. The ball is in your court. I look forward to hearing from you. Please contact me, Lee Lofland, at email@example.com to confirm.
At the very least, it would be a great story – everyone’s favorite authors driving, shooting, handcuffing, investigating murders, and much more.
Here’s Siddiqui’s email address. Please write her today. Right now. Flood her inbox with my invitation to attend the Writers’ Police Academy. I think she needs our help, and we’d love to have her help educate the public. She’s a wonderful writer who could really do the country a lot of good right now.
*By the way, the title of today’s article was made up s*** to grab your attention. I posted it to prove a point.