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Departments : The Winning Edge

Survival is Your Responsibility

Don’t wait for others to train you to react to the dangers of the street.

January 01, 2009  |  by Michael T. Rayburn - Also by this author


Recent "scientific" studies have shown that officer-involved shootings happen very quickly…DUH! One only needs to talk to any officer who has ever been involved in a shooting to figure that out. Did we—and when I say we, I mean law enforcement officers who actually work the street—really need a group of people with Ph.D.s and a bunch of other letters after their names to tell us something we already knew, or at least should have known?

If, as a law enforcement officer, you are not constantly doing research, continually striving to better yourself, and making yourself safer on the street, then you should seek another profession. If you're one of those guys who thinks the department owes you something because you show up for work every day, then let me enlighten you—it's called a paycheck. Past that, they owe you nothing. It is your responsibility to make yourself safer and to constantly strive to do your job better.

Do Your Own Research

Part of your research and self-improvement regimen should delve into the area of officer-involved shootings. Don't rely on your agency's firearms instructors to tell you right from wrong. Because guess what? Sometimes they get it wrong, too. Sometimes they just go through the motions to get their paycheck at the end of the week, as well.

Your safety and well-being on the street depends on you, no one else. It's your responsibility. Take the time to talk to officers who have been involved in shootings and you'll find some alarming trends. A lot of them will tell you they were "taken off guard" or "didn't expect" this person to try to take their life. Listen to them as they tell you how they "didn't have time" to get any type of sight picture with their handgun. Or how they "tried to get a sight picture," but couldn't do it. Listen to them laugh as you ask them about stance, grip, and trigger control.

"Place the middle of the first pad of your index finger on the trigger and slowly squeeze it rearward." Yeah, right! Yet some firearms instructors still teach target shooting skills for combat on the street. Or how about the dreaded "double tap," where you fire two rounds, stop, and assess the situation. Like that is really going to happen as some bad guy on the street unloads a 15-round magazine in your direction.

If you don't have access to officers who have been involved in shootings, then read about these incidents as often as you can. Try to get your hands on first-hand accounts from officers who were involved in shooting incidents. Read reports from the FBI regarding officers assaulted and killed in the line of duty. Get your hands on the Uniform Crime Reports and analyze them.

Tags: target practice, Firearms Training, Officer Safety, Officer Involved Shootings, Flashlight Techniques, shooting techniques

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