Whether on foot patrol, bike patrol, or in a vehicle, attack recognition and response is critical. Try to use heightened awareness to recognize pre-attack indicators and minimize the physical effects of surprise.
Ask yourself five questions:
- When do I move?
- Where do I move? (to and from)
- How do I move?
- Where am I the most predictable?
- Where am I the most vulnerable?
A few tactics that we have been told about (but may have forgotten):
When caught out in the open, prone is still a good position and can be used with gutters and curbs.
Light, power and phone poles are excellent; mail boxes, vehicle engine blocks, trees. Anything that stops or re-directs incoming fire is your temporary friend.
Drawing and being able to shoot and hit on the move is a must.
Consider practicing (red or blue gun, not the real one) drawing while belted in your vehicle, shooting through the windshield and side windows, bailing out rapidly, getting to other cover. Also practice the same while seated in a chair such as that used at a restaurant.
Do not drive up directly in front of an address you are responding to. Do not place yourself in the fatal funnel by standing in the doorway.
Consider this; a near ambush is considered contact distance to 25-yards, far ambush is considered 25-yards and beyond.
In a far ambush 25-yards and beyond, return fire and seek cover, call in the location ask for assistance. Be sure to provide all the information you can, as we don't want our fellow officers driving up into the ambush.
In a near ambush, the tactic is to counter-attack the attacker if possible. This takes a lot of nerve meaning you will be shooting back at the person who just tried to kill you. The dynamics change once you can get bullets going at the attacker. The reason for this maneuver is that the person shooting at you will try to assault you immediately if (s)he thinks (s)he missed you since (s)he feels they have the edge.
However, when deciding what to emphasize during our precious and limited training time, we must keep in mind the importance of street survival, training to win and live for the fast pace encounters of the real world.
I like many others, learned from experience and consider myself lucky to have survived the sensitive situations in which I found myself. Therefore, speaking to you about fear and mindset is critical to develop the subconscious to react to a deadly force encounter.
In the summer of 2006, I was a guest instructor for a seminar in Mexico City and had the opportunity to meet and talk with Dr. Alexis Artwohl. Dr. Artwohl is the co-author of a book called Deadly Force Encounters: What Cops Need to Know to Mentally and Physically to Prepare for and Survive a Gunfight. I had a unique opportunity to listen to her discuss a variety of issues with others and sit through her presentation at the seminar.
I have tried to live by my own advice: you never hear of a deaf mute being in jail, it is his big mouth that gets him in trouble. Therefore, while I did not say much, I did listen intently, something I think we all need to do more. Dr. Artwohl hit the nail on the head with her book on Deadly Force Encounters. My only regret is that it was not available back in the sixties and seventies, and that I did not know about her and the book much earlier. If you take carrying a gun seriously and know that you one day may have to use it to save your life or the life of another person, this book is required reading. Please do yourself a service and get it, read it twice, and keep it. Your attorney will need a copy too. Encourage supervisors and tactical team members to read and save it. There is no better book geared to your survival than the book Dr. Artwohl as co-authored with Loren W. Christensen.
Before you can truly come to grips with survival at the subconscious level you need to mentally prepare yourself before, during, and after a deadly force encounter.