Category Archives: Incident Analysis

Recognition Primed Decision-making (part I)

Recognition Primed Decision-making is a concept developed by Dr. Gary Klein. It has become a widely accepted model for first responders, the military, and in aviation.

The RPD model is based on the idea that experience allows people to make decisions quickly without having to sort through a series of possibilities. Rather, if a situation appears similar to a past experience, the solution that worked in the previous situation can be applied or modified to provide an adequate solution for the current situation.

Since most people have not been mugged, had their home invaded, or been murdered in a previous experience, the relevant question for an Armed Private Citizen is about acquiring the experience. That is to say, ‘How do we train and practice RPD in the absence of experience?’

In order for us to think clearly about self-defense and personal protection, we need to consider ahead of time the types of people and situations we might encounter. Then we consider what our options are, based on our personal preferences and choices. Finally, we can choose ahead of time which option is best suited to deal with the person and situation.

Types of people we might encounter

  • Benign person
  • Angry person
  • Predator or angry person with personal weapons (fists, shod feet, etc.)
  • Angry person or predator with a contact weapon
  • Predator or angry person with a projectile weapons

Examples of situations

  • Area of limited visibility such as a parking deck
  • Walking alone in unfamiliar territory
  • Being in the presence of a person who makes us uncomfortable
  • Having an unknown person approach us
  • Being home in a state of Unawareness or Unfocused on personal protection
  • Etc.

What we want to avoid is the Typical, or at least Common, Self-defense Process.

Model of unsophisticated decision-making by David Blinder

Part II will go into our Options and an interview with Dr. Klein about the model.

Tactical Professor books (all PDF)

Package Deal Update

I’m gratified that Thinking Clearly about Self-Defense and Personal Protection has been well received. One reader sent me the following comment, which I found quite gratifying.

I went through the book quickly and my initial impression is that it is superb. Tremendous intellectual effort and incredibly sage and mature counsel on the subject. It’s also incredibly in-depth and thoughtful.

J.T.

I want to spread the word as far as I can so I’ve now included it in the Shooting Drills Package https://www.payloadz.com/go/sip?id=3348053

The Package still includes Serious Mistakes Gunowners Make, also.

I appreciate the loyalty of those who have already purchased the Package, so I will be sending previous purchasers a download link for the book.

Two non-gun related books heavily influenced me in writing the book. The Art of Thinking Clearly by Rolf Dobelli and Small Data: The Tiny Clues That Uncover Huge Trends by Martin Lindstrom are both very insightful books about topics that aren’t often discussed.

Without knowing a proper name for it, I’ve been working with ‘small data’ for decades. I think Lindstrom would have approved of the Deloitte & Touche Real Estate Capital Markets Database that I created years ago. It started out with a few notes in Word and eventually grew into the broadest analysis of Wall Street’s entry into the commercial real estate finance business that has been done. Even the Wall Street soothsayers were only tracking 20 percent of the data in my database.

Contrary to the popular opinion that “the plural of anecdote is not data,” Lindstrom’s work shows that the opposite is actually true. All of Gary Klein’s work about decision-making is based on small data. Concealed Carry Skills and Drills, one of the books in the Package, is based on the concept of small data.

The collection of books in the Package presents a very comprehensive view of using firearms and other tools for preservation of life. Tools, skills, philosophy, and pitfalls are all covered. Those who are serious about our Art will find them useful reading, I am sure. I hope you will consider purchasing the collection.

Surveillance Detection

#fridayfundamentals

I had an encounter yesterday with some unpleasant people while grocery shopping. When I got back to my car, they pulled up nearby at a somewhat odd angle in the parking lot. Since I wasn’t sure if they planned to initiate a confrontation, I quickly drove out of the lot.

After such an encounter, it’s prudent to take a Surveillance Detection Route that does not lead directly home afterward. Doing so isn’t particularly difficult but it does require a little thought at the time. You also need to use your rear view and side mirrors regularly during the process. And have a safe place to go if it turns out you are being followed.

First of all, turn out of the parking lot in the opposite direction that you would take to go home. As you drive, look for signalized intersections to turn onto non-arterial through streets. If possible, hit the red light. Sitting at the red light for a minute will allow you to scan the cars behind you without being an inattentive driver. Make at least three turns watching your mirrors after you turn. Contrary to popular opinion, they don’t all have to be Right Turns. Sitting in the Left Turn lane at a signal will frequently give you a better scan of the cars behind you by using your driver’s side mirror than you can get through the rear view mirror. You’ll also have a slightly longer view of the traffic behind you as they turn.

Image courtesy of US Department of State

What you are looking for is vehicles that repeatedly make the same turns as you do. It doesn’t have to be the same vehicle that was involved in the initial encounter. Pairs of people often have two cars and the other vehicle might be the one following you.

Once you go into the Surveillance Detection mode, make a conscious determination you aren’t being followed before you decide to head back in the direction of your home. If you are being followed, don’t go home. Go to a safe place. POlice stations are overrated as safe refuges because they are often unmanned after shift change. Even Atlanta Zone Headquarters in the middle of the afternoon are sometime completely locked up. A woman was murdered in the lobby of an unmanned small town POlice station a few years ago by her estranged husband who was following her.

A better choice is someplace that is usually occupied by some kind of First Responders. Fire stations are one example and hospital Emergency Rooms are another. Even these aren’t fool proof but they are generally a better bet than going to the POlice. Think about several possibilities ahead of time and have them in mind as contingencies if you do need to go into the Surveillance Detection mode.

You could also call 911 but that requires you to able to link up with a patrolling POlice car or go to some place you’re directed to by the dispatcher to wait for help. Waiting for help in a stationary location when you’re being followed is an invitation to disaster. Driving to a safe place is probably a better idea.

Sound your horn even before you get into the safe refuge. Turn on your flashers and, if possible, activate the car alarm. If you have any kind of defensive tool, think ahead about how you might employ it should the situation require. That’s another good reason not to have a pistol stashed under the front seat or some other place it might have shifted around from.

Usually, when someone following you realizes that you are aware they are following, they will break off the pursuit. Don’t count on it though. You want to be prepared to play the game completely to the end. Just because you’re paranoid doesn’t mean they’re NOT out to get you.

On a separate note, a reader of Thinking Clearly about Self-Defense and Personal Protection sent me the following note. It is spot on so I am reproducing it verbatim.

Hi Claude,

You might want to put a notice at the beginning of your book to make sure you have an Internet connection when reading the book, because a lot of the text won’t make sense until the reader reads the article at the hyperlink. And there are a lot of them.

Good thought. Thinking Clearly about Self-Defense and Personal Protection contains numerous references to incidents in The Real World™ to provide context for the concepts in my articles. For copyright reasons, I can’t reproduce the articles in the book, so I link to them. An internet connection will be invaluable for understanding the context behind many of the concepts.

Thanks for the tip. Winner, winner, he receives the complete package of my books with my compliments for his suggestion.

Thinking Clearly about Self-Defense and Personal Protection

My new book is finished and available on my Payloadz store for download as a PDF.

https://www.payloadz.com/go?id=3377208

Fighting is a ‘game’ of minds.

–Rich Grassi, Editor of The Tactical Wire

Mental preparation for Personal Protection using tools is what the book is all about. Mr. Grassi’s comment encapsulates that concept superbly.

This book is a collection of my articles and essays, some previously published, some unpublished, some published but no longer available. The focus is on the mental processes that lead to achieving Positive Outcomes and avoiding Negative Outcomes. Many of the articles reference actual incidents to provide context from The Real World™ for what would otherwise be hypothetical or theoretical topics.

As alluded to in the title, Self-Defense is only a subset of Personal Protection. Often the person being protected is not ourselves but a loved one, friend, or innocent bystander. While gunowners usually think of a confrontation occurring between themselves and a criminal, the fact is that we are usually around other people. The possibility that another person will probably be peripherally involved and perhaps in danger is high. This simple fact requires serious thought ahead of time because people do unexpected things under stress.

The book is organized into several sections. Each section contains a number of articles that pertain to a topic. In many cases, an article relates to several sections so the most appropriate category was used.

  • Mindset
  • Awareness
  • Know the Rules
  • Decision-making
  • Incident Analysis
  • Negative Outcomes
  • Appendix of shooting drills

No publication can be a definitive work about such a broad subject but my hope is to stimulate thinking about the complexity of the subject from a different perspective than usual. It’s 105 pages of discussion that often gets overlooked when we talk about Personal Protection.

If you would like to purchase a copy for only $7.99, here is the link.

https://www.payloadz.com/go?id=3377208

As with all my books, Serious Mistakes Gunowners Make is included with your purchase.

Man shot and killed for peeing in public – Or was he?

Title of the story:

Man urinating in Houston street shot dead after being confronted by angry residents

https://currently.att.yahoo.com/news/man-urinating-houston-street-shot-114605999.html

This certainly implies that this poor gentleman was killed for relieving himself.

However, more details come out further down the page.

Houston Police Department spokesperson Lt Ronnie Willkens said witnesses told police the victim was in the neighbourhood [sic] to buy drugs, and that an unspecified number of residents confronted him when he started urinating in the street.

Then the plot thickens further:

Fuentes and the suspect then got into an argument, during which both men pulled out guns. The suspect shot Fuentes-Buezo and then fled the scene.

The details are sketchy so far but there’s a distinct possibility that ‘Mr. Pee Pee’ pulled a gun on the wrong person in the group that confronted him.

Of course, there’s the de rigueur regurgitation of anti-gun statistics at the end of the article.

Here’s the original story by The Independent.

https://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/americas/crime/houston-man-shot-urinating-texas-b1865280.html

The headline looks like this on a Google search.

It’s called Yellow Journalism https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Yellow_journalism in the US and Tabloid Journalism https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tabloid_journalism in Lost Britain (formerly known as the United Kingdom). This story is a very pure example.

The sadly entertaining thing is that The Independent tries to put on the image that it isn’t a Tabloid Journal.

Anyone who thinks there’s not a Culture War going on is sadly mistaken.

The BOGO on Tactical Professor books continues

I’m grateful to my subscribers who send me news reports about the Negative Outcomes gunowners encounter. The ones about children gaining unauthorized access to guns really make me sad, especially because some folks defend practices that lead to those tragedies. Consequently, the purchase of any Tactical Professor book now includes a free copy of Serious Mistakes Gunowners Make.

In addition, I have reduced the price of Serious Mistakes by itself to $4.99. I’d make it free except that people only value things they pay for.

If anyone who has purchased any of my books would like a free copy of Serious Mistakes, email me through the About section above and I will send you one.

Tactical Professor books (all PDF)

Deadly Conduct and Attempted Murder

Those are the charges in two incidents where Negative Outcomes resulted from gunfire. Both situations occurred when people thought they were making good decisions about employing a firearm for Personal Protection but the legal system doesn’t agree. Unfortunately, both incidents are material for the updated and expanded Second Edition of Serious Mistakes Gunowners Make http://seriousgunownermistakes.com that will be published later this year.

Mom charged [with Deadly Conduct] after shooting her 5-year-old son while trying to target loose dog, H[ouston]PD says

https://abc13.com/mom-accidentally-shoots-her-son-trying-to-shoot-dog-5-year-old-shot-by-angelia-mia-vargas-deadlyconduct-of-a-firearm/10728726/

A mother [who was riding a bike down the street] has been charged after accidentally shooting her 5-year-old son [who was also riding his bike down the street] while trying to shoot a dog that was running across the street in north Houston, according to Houston police.

FBI agent charged [with Attempted Murder and other crimes] in off-duty shooting of man on subway

https://abcnews.go.com/US/wireStory/fbi-agent-charged-off-duty-shooting-man-subway-78019158

Valdivia shot and wounded the man from a distance of roughly 2 to 3 feet (0.6 to 0.9 meters) after repeatedly telling the man to back up, county prosecutor Robert Hill said in court.

The man had approached Valdivia on a train, sat across from him and asked the agent for money, Hill said. The man muttered expletives and began to walk away when the agent said he didn’t have any money to give, the prosecutor added.

‘Watch your mouth,’ the agent told the man, according to Hill.

After the man turned and approached him again, Valdivia pulled a gun from a holster and shot him, the prosecutor said. Another passenger was in the agent’s line of fire, about 15 feet (4.6 meters) away, [which resulted in an additional charge of Reckless Endangerment] but wasn’t harmed, Hill added.

Note that getting the last word in, e.g., “Watch your mouth,” is not the way to Break Contact. Breaking Contact (Part I) The moment a criminal, or in this case undesirable, breaks contact, let it go. If possible, increase your distance by going in the opposite direction. Moving away from an adversary is a good skill to practice, probably far more useful in everyday life than practicing shooting on the move.

Guns are not general purpose tools for Personal Protection. They are special purpose tools that are useful only in a very limited set of circumstances. The legal system did not believe either of these incidents fell within that set of circumstances. Probably both persons charged will end up pleading to lesser offenses. Whether those will be felonies or not remains to be seen.

The mother’s relationship with her son is unlikely to ever be the same and she may lose her right to own a firearm forever. The FBI Agent’s once promising career is over, even if he is acquitted on all the charges, which is unlikely. At best, he can hope to keep his job as an FBI Agent, if he wins acquittal. The chances he will ever advance or get a good assignment again are minuscule.

Minuscule – very small

If you carry a gun, carry pepper spray, PERIOD. Lacking a non-lethal force option implies that all you are willing and capable of doing to defend yourself and your loved ones is to kill someone. That’s not a rational decision.

Whether it was necessary to do anything in the dog incident at all is questionable but using pepper spray as a defensive tool would have had less consequences. Also try to avoid or deal with having irrational fears about dogs.

The important thing in viewing these stories is not to harsh on the persons involved because that’s easy but non-productive. Rather, try to learn something from their misfortunes.

  • Do you consistently carry a non-lethal force option?
  • Have you practiced with your NL force option using an inert version?
Practicing with an emptied inert unit
  • If you have irrational fears, have you confronted them and programmed yourself with a rational response to the trigger?
  • Have you mentally and physically practiced breaking contact?

Gaining knowledge from others’ experiences is one of the useful legs of Will Rogers’ learning triad. https://www.goodreads.com/quotes/116468-there-are-three-kinds-of-men-the-ones-that-learn

Tactical Professor books (all PDF)

Breaking Contact (Part 5)

#mindsetmonday

Our goal in personal protection is to force a break in contact. We want them to go away, or we want to go away. One or the other.

The final segment of the CCW Safe Series about my concept of Breaking Contact is posted.

https://ccwsafe.com/blog/breaking-contact-pt-5

This edition focuses on success stories. I like those.

[W]hen a concealed carrier enters a self-defense situation with the goal of breaking contact — as opposed to a goal of killing or disabling an attacker — the defender has a substantially higher likelihood of avoiding a deadly shooting or making a successful self-defense claim when all else fails.

Shawn Vincent

Cover is your friend

The teen ducked behind a tree. The prosecutor’s report said one of the rounds fired by the deputy was recovered later from that tree, and several other rounds were recovered from other trees between the teen and the deputy.

A deputy and a trooper mistakenly fired 8 rounds at an innocent boy.

https://www.kens5.com/article/news/local/maryland/no-charges-against-trooper-and-deputy-who-allegedly-shot-eight-times-at-boy-they-thought-was-a-fleeing-felon/65-9af77c24-18d5-4347-ab08-2d1656e293a2?

Be aware of not only who is around you but what is around you, including things that can prevent you from getting ventilated.

Trooper 1 stated to investigators that at the time he exited his patrol vehicle he believed the gunshots he was hearing (Deputy 1’s gunshots) were actually that of LEATHERMAN towards himself. He stated he fired in self-defense at LEATHERMAN believing he was being shot at.

My Battalion Commander made the comment during Civil Disturbance training that the POlice are, at most, used to operating in pairs. Pairs generally only exist in large urban areas. When an ad hoc group of POlice come together, such as in this case, it’s very easy for things to go South quickly. The LAPD has very strict requirements for a supervisor to assume command as Incident Commander when groups of officers assemble. In cases such as this no such control mechanism is possible and things can easily get out of hand, as they did. My advice is that if you see a group of POlice from different agencies gathering, leave the area immediately.

Note also that Officer 1 was downrange of Deputy 1 and Trooper 1 while they were firing at the innocent bystander. Struggling with Subject 1 on the ground to take him into custody might have saved that Officer’s life.

BM is the innocent bystander

The full 27 page report from the State’s Attorney about the incident is available to download from the news article.

Another of my rules is that if I were to hear shots fired, I am going the other way as quickly as I can. Nothing good comes from ‘running to the sound of guns’ as a Private Citizen. Something something, curiosity killed the cat, something something.

Being Mindful Of and Avoiding Danger

#mindsetmonday

Dr. Sherman House, the Real Dr. House™, https://civiliandefender.com/ was an armored truck guard for quite a while. He turned me on to the fact that such robberies often begin with unannounced gunfire by the robbers. When I see an armored truck at a grocery store or other place, I wait in my car until after it leaves.

Armored truck guard shot in the face during robbery attempt at NE Houston bank, HPD says

https://www.khou.com/article/news/crime/shooting-robbery-houston-bank-hpd-says/285-5f392871-5d1b-4851-bc5a-566872cfa369

Tactical Professor books (all PDF)

Real Shootouts of the LAPD                  https://realshootoutsofthelapd.com/

Serious Mistakes Gunowners Make http://seriousgunownermistakes.com

Indoor Range Practice Sessions           http://indoorrangepracticesessions.com

Concealed Carry Skills and Drills         http://concealedcarryskillsanddrills.com

Shooting Your Black Rifle                       http://shootingyourblackrifle.com

Advanced Pistol Practice                       http://bit.ly/advancedpistolpractice

Package deal of Serious Mistakes, Indoor Sessions, Concealed Carry, and Shooting Your Black Rifle (20% off) https://store.payloadz.com/details/2644448-ebooks-sports-shooting-drills-package.html

Breaking Contact (Part 3)

#fridayfundamentals

The CCW Safe https://ccwsafe.com/ series about my concept of Breaking Contact continues with Part 3.

https://ccwsafe.com/blog/34532

Part 2 of the series focused on situations where the concealed carrier initiated contact. Part 3 focuses on incidents where the carrier was initially approached and failed to take the opportunity to Break Contact.

I hate platitudes when they’re used in an attempt to simplify a complex topic into a sound bite. “Better to be tried by twelve than carried by six” is one of the most commonly parroted sayings in the firearms community. While many times we are presented with the optometrist’s question, “Which is better, A or B?,” decisions that are made in advance and are going to affect the rest of our lives seldom are binary. I like to think we’re smarter than parrots that have been trained to say one or two things.

As Shawn points out, the decision process has several more options.

When the goal is not necessarily to kill or disable a would-be attacker, a defender is open to other options that carry less legal risk and may produce more positive outcomes.

When breaking contact is the goal, sometimes it is better to disengage rather than attempt to de-escalate.

My personal paradigm is:

  1. Avoid
  2. Escape
  3. Confront
  4. Resist

Any attempt at de-escalation, even when benign, is a part of Confront. Disengage is part of Escape. Escaping is higher on my priority list than Confronting.

Similarly, in the Gerald Strebendt incident, he unnecessarily moved up the paradigm from Escape to Confront. A confrontation inherently carries more risk associated with it than an escape. As John Hall, former head of the FBI Firearms Training Unit put it:

Any encounter carries with it an element of chance.

My initial post about Breaking Contact (Part I) is located here:

The second is here.

If you would like to purchase my book, click on the image below. The detailed investigations and reports of incidents involving off-duty LAPD officers are very instructional for understanding the differences between Avoiding, Escaping, and Confronting.