Who's armed?

A firearm, edged weapon, bludgeon, or improvised weapon can easily be concealed in clothing.

Recently, an officer I know conducted a pat down of a parolee without backup (by the way, the parolee had backup). It's hard for me to imagine a scenario where that would be a tactically sound decision. I hate to think of what might have transpired if the parolee had been armed and committed to his cause. A better tactic would be to order the subject(s) to assume a position of disadvantage, such as seated with their ankles crossed and hands on their knees while waiting for backup. Of course, ordering the subject(s) into a prone position while waiting for backup would be a safer alternative if warranted.

Let's assume you have a backup officer present and reasonable suspicion to justify a pat down. While conducting the search, you feel the grip of a pistol in the suspect's front waist area. What's the best tactic? Do you remove it and secure it on your person? Do you take the suspect to the ground and control his arms to prevent him from accessing the pistol? What about pushing the suspect away and drawing your firearm?

Like most aspects of police work, the best response to this dilemma is dependent on several factors, including the actions of the suspect, whether or not the weapon can easily be removed, and your proficiency with unarmed defensive tactic techniques. Through realistic scenario-based training, officers can "test" each of the above responses under stress, without risk of injury or death.

Cover awareness

No discussion involving weapons would be complete without addressing the topic of cover. Cover can be defined as any object that can be positioned between you and a threat that is capable of stopping rounds.

Buildings, vehicles, large trees, even fire hydrants are examples of cover. Whether on or off duty, you should constantly be scanning for suitable cover. Far too many officers have been killed because they did not make use of readily available cover.

Don't wait until rounds are whizzing past your head to start appreciating cover. Next time you walk into the bank, supermarket, gas station, post office, mall etc., look around and take note of objects that would provide adequate cover. This is a great habit to get into and one that could very well save your life someday.

Train hard. Stay safe!

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