- This incident reinforces the fact that there are no routine traffic stops. Officers need to be vigilant every moment, and prepared for the “What Ifs?” If I am assaulted during a traffic stop, what are my options?
- Consider cover - the best predictor of who wins a gunfight is most likely the one who has cover.
- Return fire quickly, even while going to cover.
- Consider using your patrol car as a weapon, driving into the assailant if he is outside of his vehicle.
- Consider putting your patrol car in reverse, thus putting distance between yourself and the shooter. This tactic may also give you time to regroup and gain a more tactical advantage, particularly if you are outgunned.
- Always scan the area for other sources of cover you might utilize if a gun battle erupts while you are out of your vehicle.
- Rarely is anything as it seems. An all-out assault on two cops occurred in small town America by a loner with no criminal history. Never take anyone for granted or underestimate their potential to harm you.
- Officers should be aware of the phenomenon known as “Suicide by cop,” and recognize that an incident such as this is potentially as lethal to the officers as it is to the perpetrator.
- Traffic stops must be an important part of regular yearly in-service training, to include tactics for both one and two man patrol cars. Training is priceless, and is the only thing we can refer to when involved in critical situations. Without training, we put ourselves further behind in the reactionary power curve than we normally are.
The above suggestions are just that, suggestions. Officers need to learn and follow their department’s SOP regarding traffic stops. However, traffic stops and the tactics involved are ever evolving. If you find your department’s traffic stop policy is outdated, please recommend that it be updated.
Officers Savage and Thomas acted heroically on March 10, 2013. A veteran cop and a rookie worked together to defeat an adversary hell bent on killing them and himself. I commend them both. Dash cam video from their shooting is available at this link: Ohio Officers’ Shootout.