THE year 2016 saw a paradigm shift in the manner in which police applications of force are viewed through the lens of the public. This is not an insignificant matter, in the fact that anyone reading this and currently serving in law enforcement could very well find himself the subject of national scrutiny in the event his application of force was placed into question.
Training can go a long way to avoiding such hazards. The greater skill sets one possesses, the greater degree to which one can allow a situation to degrade before taking action. Most probably, if this is the case, the choice and actions taken will therefore be the correct ones. I discuss this subject in my first book, The Art of Modern Gunfighting.
LAPD will soon institute body cameras for all officers. Other departments had instituted this policy well before LAPD, and it appears to me that it is often more than beneficial to the officer. Such camera footage has helped me personally when defending an officer’s actions in court.
Instead of being a one-dimensional depiction of events, body-camera footage is truthful in its overall capture of the event sequence. Less-lethal munitions such as the beanbag shotgun and Taser will soon be in every patrol vehicle as well. These will give officers an array of options when dealing with unpredictable situations, which is the very essence of police work. (In my day, one simply had a straight stick baton, six-shot .38-caliber revolver, 12 spare rounds, and one’s wits. Talk about change!)
Today’s officers will be held to a high degree of accountability as to the rationale of their decisions and the validity of their actions. This does require a significant upgrade in one’s ability to articulate such actions and as such, this should be addressed through training. Reading real books penned by real authors (the postings of internet trolls in no way, shape or form constitute proper prose) improves one’s lexicon, which in turn presents a more articulate and professional demeanor on the stand. Perhaps a good New Year’s resolution is to read more.
One should never be surprised at the prospect of a deadly force encounter. Surprisingly, I have found this to be the case more than once when defending officers. Police work is an inherently dangerous and unpredictable profession. If this is not for you, I suggest baking cupcakes as a career choice.
There is a reason you are armed, and it is precisely for the unpredictability of human actions. When a deadly force encounter comes, it most probably will be sudden, without forewarning, and rapid in execution. Again, a good resolution is to train more, even if it is on your own time and at your own expense to ensure you emerge unscathed, intact, and whole at the end of watch.
When you retire, you can dust off the surfboards, golf clubs, fishing gear, and all ancillary equipment to enjoy life to its fullest. But for most working officers, I strongly encourage them to train a bit harder toward the possibility that they might have to defend themselves or others in an evolution that spans mere seconds. This allows one to retire in one piece as opposed to the alternative.
On a lighter note, I have now arrived at the stark realization that men do not think like women, nor do women think like men! My wife, Brett, cares naught for my handcrafted, personally hand-shaped Phil Edwards surfboards. Nor does she find my Mizuno MP67 grain-flow-forged golf irons anything to rave about. As a point of fact, much of what I treasure and find fascinating holds little interest for her. The specifics as to why men treasure one thing and women another goes back to Neolithic times.
The Neanderthal took great pride in a well-crafted spear tipped with a high-grade hand-flaked obsidian tip. The cave woman, on the other hand, took great delight in acquiring the newest off-the-rack, giant ground sloth full-length fur coat.
Armed with a good stone axe, a bow and a dozen arrows, our knuckledragging ancestor sallied forth with his buddies with the express intent to down a T-Rex (yes, I am aware of the timeline) and in turn, he returned with a bunch of T-Rex teeth to proudly display on his rock bench in his man cave. Cool.
Meanwhile, our cavewoman had decorated the cave with animal skins and flowers and the like while attending to obnoxious cave babies. Not cool. So, the following are Uncle Scotty’s resolutions for 2017.
I will attempt not to bore Brett with the specifics of an Accurate fishing reel, Rory McElroy limited-edition putter, tungsten-carbide kinetic energy projectile from an M1 Abrams tank, the inner working mechanisms of a Panerai watch, the merits of a museum-grade replica of the Apollo space capsule, the coolness of an inert five-inch naval gunfire shell, or anything else that she finds nauseatingly trivial in nature.
On the other hand, I will attempt to express an interest in draperies, couch fabrics, flowers, and all other ancillary products and items, which seem to fascinate females to no end. (Brett is actually very cool with most guy stuff—just not my guy stuff.)
My other resolution is that, while teaching firearms classes, I will strive not to express frustration when posited the following questions: Are we going to fire real ammunition on the range? Does that gun you’re wearing have real bullets in it? Did you ever have to fight bad guys when you were a police officer? Why don’t police just shoot by, instead of at, the suspect so he knows you are serious?
In any regard, hopefully 2017 will prove to be a good year despite a rather tenuous beginning.