Thursday, November 20, 2008

Avoiding the bucket

Article on the need to avoid inculcating bad habits during training:
US law enforcement was rocked in the 1950’s by a string of what was then termed “Mad Dog Killers”. They were people who couldn’t take their dull and dreary lives any more, so they geared up with a gun and went on a murder spree until killed by the cops. What was really alarming is how many police officers these losers were taking with them.

Investigations after the fact turned up some surprising trends. When faced with a madman who didn’t care if he lived or died, officers would shoot their revolvers empty and then never get around to reloading. Most of them were found, shot dead by the perp, with six empty cases in one hand and their gun in the other with the cylinder open. Most of the officers never even tried to reload from the extra rounds riding on their belt.

But wait, it gets weirder. Witnesses would report that a few officers would even break cover and wander around in the open, staring at their feet. They, too, would have a handful of spent brass and an open gun.

It was a mystery until a smart FBI agent thought to visit a few police pistol ranges that were operated by departments that lost men in shootouts. He found that most of them were modern facilities that were well maintained. But it was that same care lavished on the property that was reducing the chances of coming out the other end of a gun fight in one piece.

Article here. If I recall correctly, some of the CHP officers killed in the infamous Newhall, CA shootout were found to have had empty brass in their pockets. As I recall, the rangemaster at their unit reportedly required officers to not drop their empty brass on the ground during qualification so as not to litter his neat, tidy range. The officers apparently took that trained response with them to their fatal gunfight. As the old adage goes, "train the way you want to fight, because you will fight the way you have trained." Bad habits and all.

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