As I write this column the news media beg the question with 11 cops shot in 24 hours, Is this more than a coincidence? The latest incident has occurred in St. Petersburg, Florida with two of our Brothers in Blue killed and a U.S. Marshall wounded. The suspect apparently then took his own life.
The unequivocal answer is YES! It is not a coincidence but rather the intentional acts of violent criminal suspects. The weekend included a suspect shooting an Indianapolis officer in the face and four Detroit cops shot in their own substation and more. On and on from the West coast to the East and middle America in between officers are being shot and otherwise assaulted on a regular basis. With a 40% increase of officers killed by gunfire in 2010 according to the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund, the numbers and the headlines answer the question with a resounding YES there is a war on cops!
Want more? I’m prepping today as an expert witness for a misdemeanor trial of a Deputy who has been charged with two counts of assault and working on an expert opinion in defense of an officer charged with felonious assault after a shooting. How about Camden, NJ and other metro areas laying off officers while crime is on the increase? Training: what agencies are training out there nowadays? With little to no budgets for training and less officers to work the shifts, what agencies are actively and aggressively training? Training that is done seems to revolve around special interest groups and state mandated courses. Come on folks; when in these dire straits should we be forced to sit through human trafficking courses at the expense of officer safety training? When have you ever seen a state standards and training agency mandate officer safety and survival courses?
I mean I don't want to be the bearer of bad news but hell yes it is a war out there. One fought with less manpower against more violent offenders armed with at least police equivalent weaponry and too many agencies and officers are approaching the fight with a busy as usual mindset.
A Call to Arms
That's what nations do when attacked to spurn their citizenry to action and what I along with trainers and law enforcement media like Officer.com are doing now: a call to action. You and I and all our Brothers and Sisters need to understand that we are the target blue for no other reason than our role in society and the uniforms we wear.
Since we already have the arms on our patrol belts and in our patrol vehicles this call to arms should be a call to proficiency. This violent times demand that you be knowledgeable about the laws of arrest, search and seizure and use-of-force, decisive in your actions, skilled with empty hand suspect control techniques, competent with your duty pistol, shotgun or patrol carbine and practice sound tactics - in other words, competent and confident.
History is full of ships and structures that when anticipating bad weather failed to batten down the hatches or harden the target. The result was damage and devastation. Let the past few days be a bellwether of bad things to come; failing to heed and failure to get your ship together means that you and the outcome of your potential violent encounter are at the whim and mercy of the winds that blow - or luck. Don't let it be so.
I've given up caring about the politically correct way to phrase the opposition. When talking about threats to law enforcement they are simply my and your enemy. We may meet them on any call but specifically when targeting and seeking to arrest the hyper-violent we must plan and prepare with the possibility of violence against us foremost in our minds. I've also given up caring why hyper-violent criminal suspects are the way they are. It simply makes no difference to me. They come in all shapes, sizes, races and sexes and socio-economic backgrounds. They come from the best of homes as well as the worst. They may have mental illness or just be inherently evil. I don't care and neither should you. Just don't let them target you. The surest way to accomplish that is to be the best. That means you and I have to prevent being a target; train like hell, plan and prepare to deal with them.
The War is Now
During the course of writing this article I fielded a Tampa reporter's phone call about the St. Petersburg incident. With a felony suspect armed with a gun supposedly hiding in an attic, how should law enforcement have responded? What tactics how should they have used? Although phrased politely ultimately his questions seemed to be, They must have done something wrong. What was it? From the safety of my easy chair several states away I will not Monday morning quarterback. My thoughts and prayers are with the officer's family, friends and coworkers.
But my loud cry would be to prepare this day and everyday to deal with hyper-violent criminal suspects. Suspects who simply don't care and feel that you stand in the way of their escape or their criminal mission.
You stand in their way - be ready and able.