Responding to Extreme Violence

How to prepare mentally and physically to win against extremely violent criminal suspects

Firearms and suspect control training that is not realistic or relevant will not help prepare officers to win. Training that anticipates light to moderate resistance from a suspect will not work against a committed killer with a gun.

Tactics, Techniques and Procedures

TTPs designed for dealing with standard resisting subjects don't work in intensively violent scenarios. We must look to police tactical and military operations for the answer.

  • Hyper-violent suspects (HVS) are shooters; train to be a good combat shooter yourself with all arms.
  • Use cover and understand what constitutes cover; HVS will frequently barricade and snipe.
  • If there's not active shooting drawing you to the source, slow things down and clear rooms systematically. Be wary of ambushes.
  • Anticipate ambushes. Whether hastily made or planned out, hyper-violent suspects will frequently hide in a small room with only one approach and ambush officers as they enter the "fatal funnel." Body bunkers (portable ballistic shields) are not just for SWAT.
  • Practice working moving/move drills with partners. Only one officer moves while another covers. Also known as bounding or bounding over-watch.
  • If possible, get a police carbine or shotgun; HVS will have police equivalent or greater weaponry. Learn to use and deploy with a long gun.
  • If time allows, don't go up against a HVS by yourself.
  • Hit as hard as you can. Whether with an empty hand, baton or when shooting, hit them hard and put them down - now. This is no time for measured response or "fire two rounds and stop and assess" (the fact this training fallacy still exists is amazing) Keep shooting until they are no longer a threat - period, this is the time to knock them on their butts and take them under control.

We cannot approach the hyper-violent as we do all others. We cannot apply standard police tactics in dealing with such suspects. We must "up-arm" and aggressively pursue while still exercising sound tactics. Columbine, Virginia Tech, Pittsburgh, Oakland and now Ft. Hood have taught us some lessons. Let's prepare and train our minds and bodies for dealing with extremely violent suspects - it is our responsibility to do so.

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