The only human institution which rejects progress is the cemetery
- Harold Wilson
Like all areas of society, law enforcement has to keep abreast of current trends and activities that present themselves to us. Our profession is one of only a few however, (the military, fire, and EOD communities being some of the others) that must constantly adapt to stay ahead of human foes that are bent on devastation. In 25 combined years of military and law enforcement experience, I have seen positive change almost on a week by week basis. Now in this ever changing world of 4th generation warfare and Active Killer Response, the mantra adapting and overcoming has become almost standard marching orders for us in countering this nationwide/worldwide contagion of violence.
As we all know, the actions of Dylan Klebold and Eric Harris at Columbine High served as the impetus for change in modern law enforcement response to active killers. The four-man contact/ rescue team concept with an Ad-hoc incident commander concept that was created in the wake of this incident is solid doctrine. There is NO DOUBT in my mind that if performed correctly and aggressively, and under perfect conditions, these tactics will achieve flawless results and the desired effect of the prompt and efficient neutralization of the active killer will be accomplished. This tactic and the tactical mindset that comes with it are taught in one form or another, with minor adjustments, all across the country now.
I want my readers to know that the spirit of this article is not to bash or replace the four-man contact team principle. I write this article not to attack or denigrate these tactics, as I still instruct and advocate them where agencies mandate as required practice. I instead write this to hopefully add momentum to an upwelling of thought and tactical doctrine being brought about by some, such as Ron Borsch and myself, who are seeing how even a strong tactic can be improved upon when situation dictates that we must.
Alternatives to the 4-Man-Contact-Team Concept
Four; Calling a tail a leg doesn't make it a leg
- Abraham Lincoln
- 90% of police departments nationwide are staffed by under 50 officers*. It's a common public misconception that agencies this size have adequate staffing to handle any and all situations and crises.
- The fact is that agencies of this size are going to have a difficult time deploying to an active killer incident using standard 4 man formation tactics in a time period that is short enough to severely limit the shooter's rampage and total victim count.
- If a police department is normally staffed by a patrol force consisting of one to six single officer patrol units, the Ad-Hoc I/C - diamond, or any other 4 man contact team formation system may be too "heavy" a task force to form and utilize within the time constraints that these incidents take place in.
- Force feeding of force fitting even good tactics is unrealistic and bad practice.
- Active Killer incidents are over in less than 10 minutes almost 100% of the time.
- In a large percentage of these events, the massive loss of human life takes place in seconds rather minutes or hours.
- By Colonel Cooper's color code; the spontaneous, ultra violent, ambush-style of these events catches everyone involved completely in condition white and law enforcement resources well behind the OODA loop from the onset of the occurrence and fraught to catch up.
I have worked in my current agency for 21 years (40 sworn) and we have been proactive in our training and planning for any type of school or workplace assault for some time. Every officer from the chief to the newest patrol officer is trained to standard and other practices (patrol rifle programs, school resource officer positions, etc.) are on par with most agencies across the country. As with all other agencies, we strive to provide the best police services and protection we can to our jurisdiction and its people. But as Einstein once stated "Reality is merely an illusion". The reality that any size minimum mandatory patrol force patrolling our communities, or every school staffed by a full time SRO effectively and quickly neutralizing an active killer attack is folly.