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Threat Recognition

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  • Threat Recognition

    Threat Recognition: A Problem for our Nation’s Law Enforcement?

    In a major city in the Midwestern portion of the United States, police officers responded to a burglary in progress of a vacant house. The caller reported hearing gunshots and seeing flashlights inside the residence. Multiple police officers responded to the scene. A lone officer approached the front door of the house with a flashlight in his hand and his service weapon securely holstered. The officer loudly announced his presence and entered the front door. As the officer took a few steps inside, he was immediately shot two times with a .45-caliber pistol. Both rounds struck the officer in the head. The offender then ran out the front door where he exchanged gunfire with assisting officers. The offender wounded four officers before being struck by gunfire and apprehended near the scene. The victim officer was transported to a nearby hospital where he succumbed to his injuries. The deceased officer’s service weapon was found to be securely snapped in his holster.

    In reviewing the facts and circumstances of this incident, the victim officer failed to realize he was entering into a life-threatening situation. Had he believed his life was in danger, he most certainly would have changed his tactics or had his service weapon in hand prior to entering the residence.

    • What caused this officer to fail to realize the potential dangers in this situation?
    • Did the officer feel a certain level of comfort because there were numerous officers on the scene with him?
    • Was there a lack of communication between the victim officer, the dispatcher, and the other officers at the scene?

    This raises the most important question of all. . .

    When a law enforcement officer does not perceive a situation as dangerous or life threatening, should he or she safely rely on those perceptions? Unfortunately, these types of felonious killings of our Nation’s law enforcement officers occur far too frequently. In this instance, the offender was found to be in possession of several large bags of marijuana. A search of the premises revealed an additional large cache of illegal drugs. The offender was convicted of his crimes and is serving a life sentence without parole.

    In reviewing the FBI Law Enforcement Officers Killed and Assaulted (LEOKA) Program’s most recent statistics, 48 officers were feloniously slain in the line of duty in 2009. Of the 48, 21 officers (43.8 percent) fired or attempted to fire their weapons. Twelve officers or 25.0 percent fired their weapons.

    The following 10-year table depicts the use of firearms in situations where officers were feloniously killed. Of the 536 officers feloniously slain during that period (2000-2009), 209 officers (39.0 percent) fired or attempted to fire their weapons. Of those, 118 officers (22.0 percent) fired their weapons. However, 244 officers (45.5 percent) did not fire or attempt to fire their weapons.

    A review of the data indicates that the slain officers failed to recognize a deadly threat in nearly three out of every four attacks when they attempted to fire or did not fire their own weapon. For over one-fourth of the officers who instituted the use of deadly force (fired own weapon), their decision to use the weapon came too late, as they lost their lives in the encounter.

    The table further shows that the deadliest year for the country’s law enforcement officers was 2001. In that year, 70 officers were feloniously killed. Twenty-eight of those officers (40.0 percent) fired or attempted to fire their own weapon. Of those, 12 officers (17.1 percent) fired their weapons.

    Law enforcement administrators, trainers, and personnel should be concerned when presented with this type of statistical information. The data supports the theory that law enforcement is failing to recognize and effectively respond to life-threatening situations. Therefore, it is recommended that all training curriculum be enhanced to include the use of real-life scenarios, to specifically include threat recognition. This training should also include scenarios where the timely and appropriate use of deadly force is constantly reinforced. Furthermore, it is recommended that law enforcement administrators ensure that safety-related policies and guidelines be consistently reinforced by supervisors. Our Nation’s law enforcement officers are sworn to protect the citizens and the communities they serve. They cannot hold true to their sworn duties unless they protect themselves first.

    For more details regarding felonious and accidental law enforcement deaths, the annual LEOKA publication is available online at http://www.fbi.gov/about-us/cjis/ucr/ucr.
    Originally posted by SSD
    It has long been the tradition on this forum and as well as professionally not to second guess or Monday morning QB the officer's who were actually on-scene and had to make the decision. That being said, I don't think that your discussion will go very far on this board.
    Originally posted by Iowa #1603
    And now you are arguing about not arguing..................

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