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After Ferguson, Police Consider 'Tactical Retreat'

January 27, 2015  | 

The national upheaval from Michael Brown's death in Ferguson, Mo., and some others since, has put enormous pressure on law enforcement to find ways to control people's behavior while using less violence. One possibility — simple but repugnant to some officers — is to teach police to back away from certain difficult situations until help can arrive, reports the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.

The concept is known as "tactical retreat" or sometimes "tactical withdrawal" or "tactical restraint."

"We add the word, 'tactical' and not just 'retreating' or 'giving up' because that's what makes it palatable for police officers," explained Seth Stoughton, a criminal law professor at the University of South Carolina. The former Florida officer is a nationally prominent advocate for applying the softer approach. "It's basically the choice to work smarter rather than harder."

Chiefs of the St. Louis and St. Louis County police have said in recent interviews they are reviewing training with the principles of tactical retreat in mind.

But it’s a delicate dance, warned Sam Dotson, the city chief.

Comments (15)

Displaying 1 - 15 of 15

Federali @ 1/27/2015 4:13 PM

Hell, let's make all the liberals and politicians happy.... if someone approaches us aggressively or with any weapon, other than a firearm, let's just go back to the station/office and clock out and go home! SMH

kevCopAz @ 1/27/2015 4:17 PM

Granted many shooting are the result of bad tactics on the part of LEOs who put themselves into a position where they are now forced to fire (i.e. standing in front of suspect vehicles) BUT, most times the officer is put into the position where they have to use force by the suspect and or the circumstances. If we start expecting or requiring "tactical retreats" before use of force we will possibly have less citizens injured or killed, but we WILL have more officers injured or killed second guessing themselves as to "fight or flight(retreat)". Bad when you have to think during the few seconds that you have to act. Fine for professors(academics) and arm chair quarterbacks but for the cop out on the line of fire, just another problem which may delay reaction and cause their own injury or death. In my humble "non academic" opinion.

Doc @ 1/27/2015 4:33 PM

I am glad I am retired from police work! Never thought in my life the day would come that we would tuck our tails between our legs and run away! No matter what the politically correct phrase they attached to it that is exactly what they want us to do. That goes against everything we have ever been trained to do. Can't wait to see this implemented and the high dollar lawsuits that will follow!

Sgt.Sam @ 1/27/2015 5:11 PM

We use to do that all the time in 'Nam.
Drop back two "clicks".
Then call in an airstrike.
Loved the smell of napalm in the morning, it smelled like victory.
Only in Ferguson it's the peaceful demonstrators (rioters) that
provide the napalm.

Retired Chief @ 1/27/2015 5:30 PM

This is absolute BS. The need for use of force is determined by the suspect, not the officer. Most suspects who resist or assault an officer expect that force will be used to overcome their resistance. If officers "tactically retreat" when the use of force is justified it will only embolden criminals and further endanger officers and the public. Any so called police leader who advocates this crap is nothing but a politically correct, spineless wimp and has no business in the profession.

Gene @ 1/27/2015 5:37 PM

Sounds like it is giving in to the "LAW BREAKERS". Rioting, burning property, throwing fire bombs, turning over police vehicles, burning police vehicles, pelting officers with rocks and Molotov cocktails, shooting at (and hitting) officers. When do you stop "tactically retreating" and draw the line. Do you just back up to the city line, how about the county line, or the state line, then there is always the border? I thought all states had a law that effectively states "the officer has no duty to retreat when faced with resistance in performing they're duty". I am glad that I have retired, please don't let them burn down my house because of fear of having to react to some vicious hoodlums!!!

Cassie Quinlan @ 1/27/2015 7:18 PM

Excellent! Pushing the PAUSE button leaves a little room for enhanced perspective - better chance of win/win conclusion - small improvements add up to greater stability and relationship over time. I've worked in de-escalation and find time an ally - instant impressions often limited.

BT @ 1/27/2015 7:59 PM

"Tactical retreat" is kind of like saying "if you elude, we won't pursue".
A case I don't want to think about. A slippery s.lope......and a "softer approach"
to what? What softer approach is there to a 6'5" 350 lb. person charging at you,
when he already tried to grab you gun?????? Hello!!!!

Sgt.Sam @ 1/28/2015 2:58 AM

We use to do that all the time in 'Nam.
Drop back two "clicks".
Then call in an airstrike.
Loved the smell of napalm in the morning, it smelled like victory.
Only in Ferguson it's the peaceful demonstrators (rioters) that
provide the napalm.

Fed Cop @ 1/28/2015 6:24 AM

This is similar to the no pursuit policy of many agencies. If you make known the police will not pursue if you run, it will encourage the offenders to run and get away. In this case, when the offenders "know" that if they resist and are agressive toward the poo poo, they police will just back up and go home. They take over the streets. There is a YouTude video out of Oakland where the thugs intimidate both Alameda County SO, and the CHP, and they just leave the area.

Fed Cop @ 1/28/2015 6:36 AM

This is the same as the no pursuit polcies. When the thugs know police will not pursue if they run, they run. If the street thugs know the pooolice are going to retreat when the thugs rsist or act aggressively, they'll act aggressiely. There is a video on YouTude showing street thugs in Oakland throwing bottles and rocks at the Alameda SO and CHP, who just drive off. Those thugs now own the street, and will have no respect for police. My guess is that most of those tugs were armed as well.

Tom Ret @ 1/28/2015 7:34 AM

I favor overwhelming force as opposed to duty to retreat as a general rule.
The politically correct left is trying hard to emasculate law enforcement and make every officer risk averse.

Chief Tim @ 1/28/2015 7:56 AM

One only has to scroll down the page to see the dangers Law Enforment face every single day.
Perhaps the " learned individuals..." That have dreamed up this drivel would like to suit up and strap in with me on a Saturday night....
I m sure we will have sound candidates for police work just breaking down the doors to sign up....
What on earth has happened to this great country of ours???

XXXXX @ 1/28/2015 8:58 AM

Well that's just great! Once they set that into policy, and you don't, you will be screwed and questioned even more. I can see it now. "Officer Jones you didn't need to shoot my client". "You could have just tactically retreated like you were trained to do, couldn't you?" "Ladies and Gentlemen of the jury, THIS OFFICER IS OUT OF CONTROL and doesn't follow his training or department policy." Man, we are all doomed.

rede2hike @ 1/29/2015 11:14 AM

I am so glad I was able to retire from the job. It's just not worth it anymore. I talk to my friends that are still stuck and they will not put forth any additional effort at my old agency
" We go on what we are dispatched to go on & that is it, its just not worth it". With the spineless admin, that is so busy trying to stay in the publics good light o can see why.
One of my friends has our new worthless sheriff telling the pounders that he didn't care about the dealers, bangers the dope houses or the career criminals he just wanted the guys to be seen and make sure they wave at everybody that they pass. God I'm glad I don't work there anymore!
To the thin blue line, be safe & watch over each other cause it's just going to get worse.

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