During the incident, Hammond never hit Talovic, but his quick response to the shooter likely saved many lives and bought time for the uniformed police to arrive. And the proof of this is easily demonstrated: Not a single additional victim was injured once Hammond intervened.
But looking back on the situation, Hammond reserves his praise for the Salt Lake City police officers.
"I've been labeled a hero by a lot of people, but those Salt Lake officers are my heroes because I couldn't have lasted there much longer," Hammond reflects. "They came in and did an amazing job, and the way they handled themselves throughout the whole thing is just something that I've never seen before. They could teach a lot of people a lot of very important things about how to do the job as far as being SWAT and tactical police officers. They were just a class act bunch of guys. Those four guys-Sergeants Oblad and Scharman, and Detectives Marshall and Olsen-were to me the most important ones."
Hammond also lavished praise on the professionalism of the Salt Lake City PD as a whole. "The rest of the Salt Lake City Police Department that showed up had just as much impact on me as those four officers. If it wasn't for the rest of them, clearing the business, securing for medical, it wouldn't have happened as well as it did."
As for his own actions, Hammond is thankful for his training, and his mindset, one which he'd consciously worked on acquiring during his years on the job.
"My best friend worked the SWAT team here for quite a few years," he explains. "We went on a lot of calls together and talked quite a bit about a lot of different things. The things he told me were: You never want to be on the defensive, you always want to be on the offensive and packed. I just kept thinking that I can't fall back. I've got to go and hunt this guy out. And that was at the back of my mind."
As for the future, Hammond says the incident taught him that he has much to learn about tactics.
"Needless to say, the next active shooter class that comes around, I'll probably be going, so I can work out how I screwed up and everything else that I could have done differently. I look back on it and say to myself, 'I did what I did and I can't change anything, but it seemed like it worked because nobody else was hurt besides him.'"
Hammond has one final piece of advice for off-duty cops when it comes to mindset and being prepared to respond to critical incidents.
"I know there are hundreds of officers who walk out of the house and think, 'Should I take my gun? No, I'm just going to the store.' If you have to ask yourself, 'Should I take my gun?' that tells you, 'Yes. You should take it.' You shouldn't have to ask yourself that. It should just be second nature because I've been there and I'm thankful that I had my gun. I will never leave my house without it again."
What Would Do?
Consider the circumstances that faced Officer Kenneth Hammond of the Ogden (Utah) Police Department when he engaged an active shooter at a Salt Lake City mall. Now ask yourself these questions:
- What type of training have you conducted to prepare for the possibility of dealing with an active shooter on duty? Off duty?
- Do you carry off duty? If so, do you do so out of personal preference, because it's mandated by your agency's policy, or for some other reason?
- What would you have done if faced by the circumstances Hammond faced in this incident? What kind of alternate tactics might you have considered using?
- Hammond was able to evaluate different variables of the situation simultaneously and act in a proactive manner. Beyond the normal concerns such as not getting shot, what would weigh on your mind if you were faced with such a situation?
Honors Bestowed on Officer Kenneth Hammond
For his valor and quick thinking during the active shooting incident at a Salt Lake City shopping mall, Officer Kenneth Hammond of the Ogden (Utah) Police Department received the following awards:
- Ogden Police Department Medal of Honor
- An official citation from the Utah legislature in honor of his heroism
- Ken Hammond Appreciation Day and Trolley Square Heroes Day of Appreciation declared by Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman Jr.
- Nominated for this year's America's Most Wanted All-Star Award for his outstanding service to the community during the Trolley Square tragedy.