Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Knife verses Gun, Police Shootings

In a recent police shooting in the City of Santa Fe involving a suicidal subject who had attacked his girlfriend the usual Monday Morning quarterback in the comments section of the Free New Mexican has begun. I know this will always happen and since the investigation is still pending and usually this things are presented to either a Grand Jury or a Judge in a Preliminary Hearing I am going to reserve judgment on the shooting pending the case receiving a fair investigation and hearing. I do however want to part from this weeks tribute to September 11 to attempt to educate the public on the facts about weapons such as tazers and firearms versus knifes. I was President of the City Police Union during the Pancho Ortega Shooting which raised questions about police handling and resulted in political, racial and other very divisive issues to come into Santa Fe.

As President one of the things we attempted to do was educate the public as to why you cannot shoot a knife out of someone's hand or shoot them in the leg to stop them. Many people who watch Kung Foo or their favorite Hollywood Action Flick want to know why police can not kick the knife out of their hands or disarm them with some kind super cop move. In the below video you can see a demonstration of a police training video in which it shows the reaction time for an officer to react to a knife attack from as little as 2 feet to as much as 12 feet.

What the instructor is trying to show is the amount of time it takes to react with your gun in your holster. Watch the video for a few other things also. Take a look at the suspect rushing the officer. Imagine that you are trying to aim a gun at a small moving object like an arm or leg while the split second you have from the time the suspect begins rushing at you from even as far away as 12 feet. Imagine you have to decide between some hokey karate move that may or may not work or using your sidearm in this split second or seconds. Keep in mind that even when a person is shot they do not just drop dead like in the movies. Many people can continue to rush and get a stab wound in place even if they have been shot.

Take a look at the now infamous FBI Miami Shootout involving two men by the names of William Matix and Michael Platt. William was shot 6 times and Platt 12, these were not all wound received at once. The Shootout lasted over 4 minutes and even after the suspects were shot several times they continued to shoot back and kill two agents and would an additional five. There have been many cases where a knife welding suspect has continued to attack after being shot. Getting back to aiming for arms, legs, or hands this is only done in the movies or in the best case scenario I have seen it done by a sniper on sitting subject who was holding a gun and the sniper had plenty of time to take aim and take the shot with the subject relatively still.

So that is why we cannot train or even suggest to officers that they can take out a knife welding subject with some kind of super cop or kung foo moves. We are fully responsible for the lives of officers and yes someone will always sue, even the officers family when we fail to use realistic training or fail to teach them proven techniques to keep themselves or others safe. If the officer allows him or herself to be overwhelmed or injured by the knife welding subject then the officers weapons are now available to be used against the next citizen or the family members who called for help. Back to the video, Please watch it carefully and try to imagine you are the officer trying to react in the short amount of time it takes for a subject to attack you with a knife. Finally please allow the investigations of which there will be many, to take place before you make judgment.

Note: Thanks to my brother for finding the video without the background music.

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