Delivering accurate and effective fire under high stress conditions is one of the most challenging endeavors you can undertake. Increasing the difficulty through asinine department policy is only going to lead to more people getting hurt.
There are no guarantees
I read how a major West Coast Police Department is now training their officers to fire two shots and assess. This is not new, I’ve seen several departments throughout the country institute similar policies in the past. I find these to be at best reckless and at worst endangering to the lives of the officers on the streets and the public at large. My biggest problem is the presumption two rounds fired will be effective at neutralizing the threat. If lethal force was justified from the beginning I don’t see why a prescribed round count is necessary or even advisable. There are no guarantees a single shot much less multiple shots will be sufficient at neutralizing the threat. I think the problem stems from an inability to recognize threat neutralization.
Don’t overkill them, that is bad
We define threat neutralization as the rapid and repeated hits directed at the largest target zone available until a better targets zone becomes available or the threat no longer exists. We can get all tied up in defining threat, but I’m pretty sure it’s safe to say a threat would be determined by the immediate ability to cause injury or death. The dynamics of a gunfight are just that, they are dynamic and quickly moving. From a tactical point of view betting two rounds was sufficient to eliminate the threat is sketchy. I’m sure it stems from some sort of idea of excessive force and the problem I have with this thought is there are no multiple forms of death. Death is a by product of my ballistic projectiles striking the body’s vital life processes. If lethal force was justified then you cannot really overly kill someone.
Precious little snowflake
The public needs a wake-up call and an education in this types of situations. Officers are afforded minimal training time yet are expected to perform at top tier levels all without making a mistake or offending someone. It is ridiculous. About the only flaw in my thinking would be what is considered reasonable. Is it reasonable to fire 5, 6 or even 7 rounds at a lethal threat? So much depends on the totality of the circumstances you cannot say with any certainty. Yet, we are now laying the ground work to create precedence and therefore a right or wrong blanket type approach. We have all seen plenty of video from body cameras to dash board cameras showing how quick, dynamic and sudden these types of incidents are and more importantly you have no idea what is going on in the threat’s mind. All you know is they created the situation for lethal force by threatening your life or the someone else’s.
The desired effect
The other problem I have is from the training side of the house. If we train people to fire what is often referred to a standard defensive response we will create weak shooters. I already have to clean up plenty of bad habits from this mentality, I don’t need policy making it any worse. Students literally quit fighting after firing the prescribed round count, in this case two. What I mean is they literally start to come off the gun, grip relax and fail to follow through for subsequent rounds. All of these training scars will come back to haunt them when they have to fire one more round to get the desired effect. This is a slippery slope for sure, the officer is not going to know whether the two rounds fired will be sufficient and if they come off the gun to assess and the bad guy is still a lethal threat they are in grave jeopardy of being injured or worse. It is far better to train people to engage the target with rapid and repeated hits in an effort to eliminate the threat, we should not force them to come off the gun in an exchange of gunfire to assess.
This is a perfect example of failed leadership, where the leadership is more concerned of the public outcry rather than their officers safety. There is a way to appease both, it’s called don’t break the law.
"I am not afraid of an army of lions led by a sheep; I am afraid of an army of sheep led by a lion." Alexander The Great,