What Strategies should we train (or train not to)?

“He that passeth by, and meddleth with strife belonging not to him, is like one that taketh a dog by the ears.” — Proverbs 26:17

In my analysis of The Armed Citizen column, two things that I noticed have broader implications than ‘skills,’ although there are both skills and tactics involved in their execution. To me, they are strategic considerations about what to do vis-à-vis how to do it. I’m not hung up on the strategic/tactical terminology, so call it whatever suits you.

Intervene in another’s situation                 15%

Hold at gunpoint until police arrive             12%

As many of my friends know, I’m not a fan of intervention in others’ affairs. I won’t say I would never do it, but I would need a really good reason. Even some police agencies, such as the LAPD, discourage officers from taking ‘enforcement action’ when they are off-duty.

Los Angeles Board of Police Commissioners’ Findings

Although it is preferred that an off-duty officer refrain from taking enforcement action and instead act as a good witness, the rapidly unfolding circumstances warranted immediate intervention to preserve life.

Therefore, it was reasonable for Officer A to take immediate action to safeguard the lives of the public.

Even when the LAPD BOPC finds an officer’s “use of force to be in policy, requiring no action” in such a situation, it sometimes recommends additional training that the officer must undergo to remedy tactical deficiencies noted.

Board of Police Commissioners’ Findings

A. Tactics

The BOPC found that … Officer A (7 years, 8 months service) would benefit from additional tactical training at the Training Division (formal training) level.

In one incident that took place in the Atlanta area 3 years ago, the person who intervened was shot in the back and killed by a seeded backup man in the liquor store. There were a whole series of tactical and marksmanship issues and errors associated with that tragic incident.

In addition to the tactical considerations, Andrew Branca’s excellent book The Law of Self Defense discusses a number of legal considerations about intervention. For example, if a weapons carrier intervenes of behalf of someone who is not innocent in the encounter, then neither is the one who intervenes.

Intervention opens a big can of worms and I’ve never been much interested in fishing. Many years ago, Evan Marshall, a very savvy and experienced Detroit street cop, espoused a philosophy of being a good witness until “they start searching people, making people get down on the floor, or herding people into a back room.” At that point, he felt gunfire was in order. I haven’t come across anything I find more apropos, so that’s the personal strategy I have in mind.

The risk/reward aspect of ‘Hold at gunpoint until police arrive’ is a separate and involved topic that we’ll discuss in the future.

 

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