On 16 February 1804, a twenty-five year old naval officer named Stephen Decatur valiantly placed himself and his men into the center of a Kill Zone. Lord Horatio Nelson later called Decatur's bravery "the most bold and daring act of the age."
The United States had been paying a million dollars a year in tributes to the pirates of the Barbary States to prevent Muslims from looting cargo and seizing ships; ironically, the primary goal of the Barbary States pirates was to capture American merchantmen and passengers for the slave markets.
President Thomas Jefferson decided paying tribute to these pirates was dishonorable to America's pride, so he dispatched our navy to Tripoli. Stephen Decatur re-rigged the Intrepid with short masts and triangular sails to resemble local ships. With seventy sailors cleverly hidden below deck, Intrepid pulled alongside a pirate vessel. Decatur charged into immortality shouting "board". Taken by surprise, the pirate ship crew ultimately surrendered. President Jefferson later promoted Decatur as the youngest officer in naval history to achieve the rank of Captain. At the ceremony Decatur remarked "I find hand to hand is not child's play, tis kill or be killed."
As law enforcement officers, the badge we wear above our heart is a symbol of our pride, honor and integrity. When you suddenly find yourself thrust into the Kill Zone as Decatur was, you too will fight with audacity and courage.
The Predator / Prey Relationship
The following video clip is from a Jerusalem inner city gunfight between two Israeli officers and a terrorist that illustrates the predator/prey relationship. Initially, the terrorist is the predator and the officers are the prey. After the surprise attack, the roles reverse and one of the officers becomes the predator and the terrorist is the prey. The goal of this fourth edition of Street Fighter is to create a focal point for adaptive learning by providing timely and relevant knowledge for the Street Fighter so that you can prevail in a deadly force encounter. Jerusalem Inner City Gunfight
Condition White: The Non-combative State of Mind
Shortly after the conclusion of World War II Jeff Cooper, a battle hardened Marine, devised a Color Code to assist us in presetting our reaction to the stimuli of a sudden and unprovoked attack. Condition White is a normal non-combative state of mind, a condition in which you feel perfectly safe. If attacked, you will probably die. While in Condition White, your gun is waiting to be taken away. This is precisely what happened to the officer in this Jerusalem gunfight. When you are perceived as vulnerable, you invite attack. You need to limit your perceived vulnerability. No matter how skilled you might be with a weapon, unless you are alert and see the problem coming and have the right tactical plan/mindset already in place, your skill set will not save you if you don't know your life is in danger. Always keep your head on a swivel and take a 180-degree scan of your surroundings to be alert to any potential threats.
The Intuitive Sixth Sense
Having spent hundreds of days in the dense jungles of Vietnam's Central Highlands, I learned that a team without a proficient point man was like a tiger without eyes or teeth and had about the same potential to survive in a world of predators. An experienced point man often had a sixth sense with which he could detect danger. To spot the enemy, point men had to learn to look through the dense foliage closest to them, meaning they had to focus on the ground and horizons behind that foliage. Muffled noises could also reveal the presence of the North Vietnamese Army [NVA]. Point men listened for coughs, the click of a weapon coming off safe, the thud of a weapon against a tree, the rustling of sounds made by men crawling through the jungle. Due to the jungle's density, all our fighting in the Kill Zone could be measured within a distance of a few arm lengths. My best point men were raised in the South and as they glided through the jungle, they never thought of themselves as prey, but as hunters, the hunters of men who never operated in Condition White. As Street Fighters we need to work diligently to develop our sixth sense so that we become 'street smart'.
Flight Initiation Distance
There is a fascinating academic study on Predator/Prey Relationships in the animal world that is applicable to Street Fighters. The study concluded that prey, if not kept under constant pressure from its predator, essentially loses its edge and does not make an effort to quickly fight or escape the predator. A single past predation attempt makes animals more alert, aware and ready to fight. Flight Initiation Distance (FID), is how close the predator is allowed to get before the prey fights or flees. It may be highly dependent on the prey's individual experiences with predators. One significant traumatic event may be enough to restore recognition of, and responsiveness to, a previously absent predator.
In the Jerusalem gunfight, the disarmed officer decided to reengage his assailant with empty hand skills and was shot for his futile effort. In similar circumstances as Street Fighters, our only chance to outfight an attacker is to carry a back-up gun (BUG). As a Narcotic Agent I wore a jacket and carried a 22-magnum High Standard Derringer in addition to my Colt 1911. It was easily concealed and capable of being fired inside my pocket. Today many officers carry a folder for added protection. If you were to fend off your attacker with a folder make sure your agency has specific legal guidelines on its use in self-defense. You don't want to find your name on the docket facing severe legal or administrative charges. The vulnerability of the unarmed officer serves as an endorsement for the appendix carry.
Israeli Defense Force Tactical Training
A number of years ago, I was invited to train with Israeli Defense Force [IDF] instructors at the Scout-Sniper School in Quantico. I received an intense physical workout and learned the tactical concepts for Close Quarter Battle from the world's experts. One of their benchmarks was to run 300 yard timed sprints to test our anaerobic conditioning. The Jerusalem gunfight video that you reviewed demonstrates the critical need to be able to run short distances at great speed and maintain the anaerobic capacity to fight.
|Tactical Concepts for Close Quarter Battle|
|TEST||300 Yard Sprint
Not gender nor age specific
|Pull Up Test
Targets back, forearms, biceps and triceps
|Marksmanship 2 x 2 Test|
Two shots from concealed holster
Fired at 21 feet into a 3 x 5 index card
Not gender nor age specific
|Tier 1||54 seconds||19 male / 8 female||2 seconds||Tier 2||60 seconds||17 male / 6 female||2.5 seconds||Tier 3||71 seconds||15 male / 5 female||3 seconds|
Increasing Anaerobic Conditioning
With diligent practice, it is possible to improve your running times. Give this conditioning exercise a try.1. Run 50 yards
If you are unable to meet the standards of these three tests: the 300 Yard Run, Pull Ups or Marksmanship, you are combat ineffective and a hazard to yourself and your teammates. Street Fighters always strive for self-improvement. Focus on what you can do as opposed to what you can't do.
Changes in Tactical Response to Predator/Prey Shootings
Many Americans vividly remember the horrific scenes from the predator/prey killings at Columbine High School and Sandy Hook. It has taken many years for law enforcement to re-think changes in their tactical response to predator/prey shootings. Most progressive agencies now train first responders to initiate early and aggressive contact with the threat realizing that a running gun battle is preferable to allowing the predator unrestricted time to kill. In an active shooter incident we cannot allow defensive and defeatist policies and procedures to hamper us. The effectiveness of our response must be measured upon the number of innocent lives saved and not the final aggregate of killed and wounded. Regardless of what tactics we employ there will always be significant risk to us when taking aggressive action to stop the slaughter of innocents. Hesitation based on the fear of incurring police casualties will cost lives. In any active shooter or officer down call, the necessity for rapid intervention is so compelling that we may need to expose ourselves to greater than normal hazards. This is neither recklessness nor is it blindly operating without a plan; however, we must act swiftly and bravely to eliminate the threat.
The Jerusalem officer displayed great courage while under fire as he pressed forward and left his position of cover in relentless pursuit of the terrorist who had gunned down his partner. When our mind is gripped by fear, our body is often captured by inertia, which is fear's Siamese twin. He found himself alone in his moment of greatest danger. In a gunfight our real enemy is fear and not the bullet. What oftentimes keeps us moving forward is the near presence or presumed presence of a buddy. This officer faced peril alone. As we know, the battlefield is cold, the most lonesome of places. It is the emptiness of it that chills. It is the emptiness that grips us with fear.
Waiting for the First Responders to Arrive
Our tactical doctrine directs first responders to bypass the wounded and quickly close the distance from the threat. If you become a casualty, as did the officer in the video clip, it is of paramount importance for you to know how to treat yourself with emergency first aid while waiting for help to arrive. You must stay alert and prepared to fight in case your attacker returns and puts a bullet in your head before he leaves the scene.
A sucking chest wound from a gunshot creates a new pathway for air to travel into your chest cavity. As you expand your chest cavity to breathe, air not only enters your mouth and nose but also goes into the bullet hole. A sucking chest wound is dangerous because it may result in a collapsed lung. As you self-treat, you must seal the hole with a flexible piece of plastic to keep air from being sucked into the wound and collapsing your lung. The wrapper from a box of theater candy is perfect! If you experience a worsening shortness of breath, remove the seal.
Do not elevate your legs if the gunshot is above your waist. Gunshots to the abdominal area and chest bleed more quickly if you elevate your legs and it also makes it difficult to breathe. You can control bleeding by putting direct pressure on the bullet wound or by applying your tourniquet. You can take solace in the fact that five out of six police officers survive their wounds.
North Charleston Shooting
When pursuing a criminal, shooting him is the most extreme form of capture. The current legality of this action is widely misunderstood by many of us. Some will tell us flatly that we never have the right to shoot just to stop the criminal's flight. However, this is not entirely true for there are situations where the use of lethal force against a fleeing felon can be justified. For deadly force to be justified to stop a criminal's flight, the situation must be such that his continued freedom presents a clear and present danger to innocent life. I am not offering legal advice. The use of deadly force on fleeing felons is a complicated matter. However, if you have the least bit of doubt about any situation, do not pull the trigger.
Attached is a video clip of a North Charleston police officer who made a bad decision shooting a fleeing felon in the back eight times as the man ran away. The officer has been charged with murder. North Charleston Shooting
Use of Force Legal Citations
The news media is focusing on the bad cop syndrome and smothering their reporting with outright distortions and fabrications on the epidemic of police abuse. This frequently fanatical and unrealistic approach to police use of force places us in a dilemma. Unfortunately many agencies fail to provide appropriate legal training so it is incumbent upon each officer to demand this training from our chain of command.
Graham v. Connor, "whether the force used to effectuate a seizure is reasonable is determined by looking to the particular facts and circumstances of the case and considering whether it was objectively reasonable (without the benefit of hindsight) for an officer to conclude that the suspect poses an immediate threat to the safety of the officer or others and whether he is actively resisting arrest or attempting to evade arrest by flight."
Tennessee v. Garner, Garner, in his early teens was caught committing a residential burglary and fled responding officers who gave chase. The foot pursuit ended when, as Garner was climbing a fence, a police bullet struck him in the back of his head and killed him. The court ruled that while burglary is certainly a serious felony, it is not a heinous crime, and not a crime against life and limb. The Garner court held that human life, including the life of a criminal, out weighs the value of any mere property that might be stolen by him. The court also held "the use of deadly force to stop a fleeing felon is not justified unless it is necessary to prevent escape and the officer has probable cause to believe that the suspect poses a significant threat of deadly or serious physical injury to the officer or others."
Montoute v. Carr, suspects armed with firearms, even those apparently fleeing, continue to pose immediate threats to officers and others as long as they retain possession of their firearms and remain within gunshot range. The ability of the fleeing armed suspect to fire at a pursuing officer exceeds the ability of the officer to respond by taking cover or effectively return fire.
Plumhoff v. Rickard, the court ruled in 2014 that Rickard's flight in his vehicle posed a grave public safety risk. The police acted reasonably in using deadly force to end that risk. The court also decided it was not unreasonable police fired 15 shots saying "it stands to reason that if police officers are justified in firing at a suspect in order to end a severe threat to public safety, the officers need not stop shooting until the threat ends."
Plakas v. Drinski, if the actions of the suspect justify the use of deadly force, the officer is not required to use less-than-lethal force before employing deadly force. The court noted that where deadly force is otherwise justified under the Constitution, there is no constitutional duty to use non-deadly alternatives first.
Foot Pursuit Tactics
Many of us are familiar with officers who have been wounded or killed while engaging in foot pursuits. In the Jerusalem street fight the officer was involved in a running gun battle with the terrorist. His tactical situation necessitated he run with his weapon drawn. In most incidents you would be better served if your pistol remained in your holster. If you run with your weapon drawn hold it in one hand, not two.
Canadian police have a unique psychological theory. Unless the predator has an exact location in mind as he flees, when allowed to make a decision, most will veer right due to how the creative side of our brain works. If forced by terrain features to make a couple of lefts he will probably stop running and pick a spot to hide.
During a blizzard in the 1970s my partner and I were in a gunfight with a dope dealer that initially began as a vehicle stop and then turned into a foot chase. I was at somewhat of a disadvantage because my arm was broken and I was wearing a cast. I was following the drug dealer too closely as he ran around the corner of a house. As I turned the corner, he was waiting a foot away and fired one shot at my head. He missed! Do not make the same mistake I did. Before rushing blindly around a corner slice the pie, muzzle to danger, being careful not to expose your head, elbow or leg. All you want the bad guy to see is your eye and the muzzle of your pistol. You must first clear the corner before placing yourself in harm's way.
Blue on Blue Shootings
During a foot pursuit you are at risk for a potential blue on blue shooting. If challenged by an officer, stop your pursuit. As soon as you are challenged, identify yourself in a loud, clear voice. Follow all your challenger's instructions. Remain motionless even if it means the bad guy will escape. Seventy-five years ago NYPD street crime detectives pioneered wearing their badge hung from the neck on a chain for safe and easily observable identification. We should do the same. Wearing your badge on your belt is foolish.
Four Brave Men
Ardant DuPick used this analogy to illustrate the concept of unit cohesion. "Four brave men who do not know each other will not dare to attack a lion. Four less brave, but knowing each other well, sure of their reliability and consequently of mutual aide, will attack resolutely." This unity and confidence springs from mutual trust fostered by discipline and shared experiences of fatigue and hardships. Mutual trust also develops from cooperation among warriors who quickly understand one another in stressful encounters. This mutual trust sustains all of us in combat and prevents fear from becoming terror.
In Street Fighter Part One we learned that in a Blitz style attack, your first indication of the attack is the attack itself. This is what occurred to this IDF officer who was stabbed in the head by a violent Muslim terrorist. Although severely injured he stayed in the fight and went to gun. His partners quickly assisted him. They first eliminated the threat before rendering medical assistance to their wounded buddy. Notice how they rapidly established clear fields of fire with a safe background.
During my Close Quarter Battle training stint at Quantico, I learned from the IDF that the maturity of a team is developed through arduous training, fostering the resilience and fiber to excel in ambiguous and uncertain situations. The IDF instructors started our training module by focusing on the skill sets needed for Close Quarter Battle by thrusting us into stressful, hazy situations in which we had to rely on our own intellect, character and judgment to solve complex, violent scenarios. The IDF has achieved this level of excellence and has transformed itself into a true "Renaissance Force."
The Fighting Spirit
Our "fighting spirit" rests on a base composed of men and women who can agree with Marcus Aurelius that "It is a useful help toward the contempt of death to pass in review those who have tenaciously stuck to life."
I would like to pose a question for your consideration and discussion with other Street Fighters. If we don't want to die, what is it that compels us to risk our lives as brave Street Fighters?
The answer that occurs to me, is that you will be persuaded largely by what induced you to face life bravelyfriendship and loyalty. When the chips aree down we fight for our fellow warriors because we share mutual trust.