10-Dec-14 – 00:01 by ToddG

My family consists of pretty well educated, intelligent, and fair-minded people. Nonetheless, recent events regarding law enforcement use of force (UOF) — Ferguson, NYC, etc. — have thrown into stark relief just how much their ideas of right & wrong, reasonable & unreasonable are based on fictional television events rather than reality.

FBI-DEA-HAFOFMany years ago while I was still in law school, I had a tremendous opportunity to test that issue. For a project in one of my criminal law classes I was invited by the DEA tactical training cadre to bring half my class (and professor) down to the FBI/DEA “Hogan’s Alley” force on force training village in Quantico, Virginia. This was during the time that Waco & Ruby Ridge were being investigated by DOJ and federal law enforcement UOF rules were under severe scrutiny.

Our group was put through a number of exercises ranging from the classic Tueller drill (attacker 21 feet away charges at you with a knife) to team room-clearing.

A few days later I had to present my paper to the entire class. The half that attended the force on force (FOF) exercises sat on the left side of the room and the other students sat on the right.

Just a few minutes into my presentation I brought up the danger of a knife wielding attacker. The right side of the room grew indignant immediately and argued that someone twenty-one feet away — the length of an entire room — simply couldn’t be a deadly threat to someone with a gun. Before I could even reply, the left side of the room erupted in angry shouts: “You’ve never been there!

Next we discussed opening a closet door to find a stranger holding a pistol that was pointed down toward the ground. Again the students on the right side of the room insisted he couldn’t be  threat because he wasn’t pointing the gun at anyone. And again the left side of the room lost its collective mind: “Do you have any idea how fast someone can point a gun at you from that position? It’s faster than you can see it and respond before you get shot!

It was the easiest presentation I’ve ever given. I’d just toss out a scenario and the folks who’d actually experienced the fear (and pain) of making a mistake when violence was present did all the arguing for me.

The lesson was pretty clear. On television, good guys can yell, “Stop! Police!” and if the bad guys don’t stop, the good guys always have plenty of time, distance, and ability to shoot them. But when it’s dark and you’re in a cramped hallway and you don’t know what’s around the corner, suddenly things aren’t so easy to predict…

Train hard & stay safe! ToddG

(image courtesy of wikipedia)

  1. 13 Responses to “LE UOF & TV vs FOF”

  2. Brilliant!!!

    By DocGKR on Dec 10, 2014

  3. Exactly the case Todd. Well stated.

    This sort of thing is why we have at my job put folks from the Citizen’s Academy through such drills. It’s an eye opener for almost 100% of them to handle even the most simple of police activities, such as a building search on an insecure premises.

    By Chuck Haggard on Dec 10, 2014

  4. Thanks, gents.

    Chuck, along similar lines, when I worked for the US Attorney’s Office in DC, the FBI used to bring prosecutors down to their academy in Quantico and put them through FATS scenarios just so the prosecutors could see how much more nuanced and sudden the shoot/don’t shoot process could be under stress.

    By ToddG on Dec 10, 2014

  5. Excellent example of how ‘reality bites.’

    By Claude on Dec 10, 2014

  6. Todd:

    Great post. Now the question is how to communicate that same knowledge to our news media and political class. Maybe the FBI and other police departments ought to invite more of them in for such demonstrations.

    By SteveJ on Dec 10, 2014

  7. Our Media and Political class don’t want to know! They prefer to exploit the “Gruber doctrine” (too stupid to understand) in furtherance of their progressive agenda. In the process they trot out all their inflammatory & ridiculous suggestions like, using less than lethal force against lethal force, shooting to wound not “kill” or the occasionally used pièce de résistance “shoot the gun out of their hand.

    By JohnO on Dec 10, 2014

  8. Well said.

    By MattH on Dec 10, 2014

  9. Better yet: put the defense atty through the FATS simulator, and use hid/her errors in court! HA!

    By Danomite45 on Dec 10, 2014

  10. Todd you are very correct. Thank you for spreading this idea. It’s a very good thing to have a lead criminal prosecutor and civil attorney for the town go through. My boss did this and the prosecutor admitted how hard it was. It was before my time but I guess he killed everyone with a cell phone in the scenarios. LOL.

    It makes for a more reasoned decision when looking at police and civilian self defense shootings. They are not immune to Hollywood either.

    By justonegun on Dec 10, 2014

  11. You should be on CNN.

    By Jeff H. on Dec 10, 2014

  12. Jeff H., I appreciate the sentiment but as they say, I have a face for radio and a voice for print journalism. 😎

    By ToddG on Dec 10, 2014

  13. Great post Todd. We provide the “qualification” shoots for our DA’s here (the ones who choose to be armed) and their investigators (all prior LE from other agencies).

    We also provide “tactical” training, meaning everyting but standing still and poking holes, up to and including sim (FOF) scenario training, for the DA’s and any of our Judges who wish to participate. In fact we are getting ready to do a new class for the Judges. There is always a good turn out.

    Lets face it, we can’t force the mopes outside of our realm of influence to educate themselves, but we can encourage those within our influence to spend an afternoon learning about real world scenarios.

    Television is the single most damaging element to police work/LE. Well, maybe second, but television, sensationalism news, the constant push for ratings on the 24-hour news cycle, and damned social media collectively have done more damage than anything I can think of off-hand.

    By LCSO264 on Dec 10, 2014

  14. Those who know, know.

    Those who don’t will argue that they know better. Because reasons!

    By Mitchell, Esq. on Dec 30, 2014

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