Law Enforcement

As a young cop, I was taught to “stack charges.” That is, write arrest reports to include all possible and applicable crimes. For instance, if a rape arrest could include lesser burglary and vandalism charges they were to be included. The prosecutor would winnow through the whole thing and make the ultimate decision on charging crimes but they wanted the report to be broad enough to support any prosecutorial strategy. What all this means is many criminals who got arrested for one particular crime wound up being booked for three to six crimes. There is no shortage of statutory law. In California, there’s probably 50,000 violations in the state vehicle code, which means every driver is guilty of something every time they get behind the wheel. Yet people still needlessly die every day on California roadways. Law lessens crime when the citizen believes punishment is likely and the risk of such punishment is not worth the risk of getting caught. Continue reading

A couple night ago, Fox News Channel’s Megan Kelly (cute as a bug) told her audience that at least one of the San Bernardino murderers engaged in “dry-fire.” Kelly explained that experts said dry-fire was shooting a gun without bullets in order to “train the mind to kill.” Dry-fire is indeed the practice of pressing the trigger on an empty weapon while sighting on a target. This practice is wide spread and well established within competitive and traditional military shooting. Olympic shooters and local target enthusiasts engage in dry-fire because it allows the shooter to more easily spot flaws because there is no disruptive discharge and recoil. Wherever the front sight is when the firearm goes “click” is where the shot would have gone. I do not expect any news organization to have an army of fact checkers nearby with expertise in all areas but this error is one that could have been caught with a 30 second internet search. We must remember Bill O’ Reilly thinks fully automatic rifles are on sale at gun shows for instant purchase (despite being corrected on-air) and MSNBC commentators want police to “shoot to wound,” like Roy Rogers and the Lone Ranger. Continue reading

There is a popular complaint going around about police touching their weapons or drawing their weapons during routine traffic stops. For private defenders, this discussion is worth having because drawing the gun irrevocably alters confrontations. It is being suggested that cops are too eager to touch sidearms when confronting “unarmed” citizens.  Every case is different but here are some things to consider: Continue reading

Cops have habits. Some good, some bad. It was not uncommon to find patrol car shotguns, which were mounted barrel upward, being used as ash trays. That’s cops. On the other hand, peace officers develop some worthwhile habits, too:

Reload your weapon everyday. Never trust that there is already a round in the chamber.
Circulate your magazines. Rounds can shift inside magazines. Check your mags and don’t keep them all loaded all the time. Magazines wear out and constant pressure means a shortened magazine life span. Continue reading

On occasion, there is some dispute over the validity for shooter self-coaching. The argument tends to be real coaching versus books or other training materials. I fully affirm that shooters need professional instruction but equally believe that every shooter must be capable of self-coaching.

Every year, tens of thousands of peace officers qualify with their duty weapons. Too many of those same officers will return to the range a few months later only to be carried through the qualification process by lazy, overly indulgent range staff. A foundation of marksmanship is almost never laid and therefore, years of shooting leaves no residual knowledge which can be translated into improved skill. In other words, Officer Bob shoots the same every year, or whatever results circumstances can rend on any given range day. Think about it. We all know that shooting is a collection of perishable skills. Accuracy and handgun operation suffer from neglect. Readers of The Perfect Pistol Shot know that marksmanship can be intellectualized and reasonably preserved but even so, maintenance is necessary for continuing competence. Continue reading

Most defensive encounters end quickly. There are, however, many occasions in which the defender will be required to stay poised and alert for several minutes. Police felony car stops can take the better part of half an hour to safely empty the car and take the occupants into custody. During that time, cover officers will  hold aim on vehicles or suspects. That’s harder than it sounds. Marksmanship, the method by which open space accuracy is achieved, requires minute adjustments to be constantly made in order to direct the sights within hundredths of an inch. Professional counter snipers take breaks every few minutes to relieve their eyes. Admittedly, using a scope with the increase in light fatigues the eye more quickly but the principle remains true in any circumstance. When considering that nighttime encounters often include sharp light contrasts, the sniper example is even more relevant. So eyes get tired but so does everything else. Try squatting or crouching for five minutes. If you catch an intruder and hold him until police arrive, you may be there a whole lot longer than five minutes. The point is mental , optical, and physical focus are demanding and their effectiveness begins an almost instant deterioration the moment the clock starts.  So what’s the takeaway? Relax. Use natural, non-exaggerated stances. Don’t tighten muscles and use a light grip. If working with a partner, coordinate thirty second breaks every three minutes. My fundamentals book, The Perfect Pistol Shot, can help you develop a natural shooting style, you can also find much of that information on the marksmanship blog at www.perfectpistolshot.com Tactical information will be available in my new book Practics Holistic Handgun which will be available this summer.

Thanks to all who have signed up at www.practicsusa.com for advanced information on the new book. You’ll be receiving an email as soon as the date is firm. I apologize for the delay but we wound up adding two sections to the book rather unexpectedly and late in the process. The text is complete and I expect the whole thing to be ready for summer reading. The truth is, I know it will be out sooner rather than later but it is a process with a life of its own, apparently.  I really appreciate your patience.

 

The BATF (the illegitimate spawn of old revenue agents and IRS bureaucrats) has apparently suggested (more likely were asked) that a certain type of .223 round be banned from public sale. The reasoning is that the rounds are “armor piercing” and new pistols are available in .223, which will mean death for America’s peace officers. Continue reading

New York Police Department and the FBI have done a good job of keeping statistical records concerning police shootings. In fact, compared to NYPD, the FBI is a little light on data. New York has been tracking shootings for more than a century.  The point is we know that for good or for ill, four rounds pretty much wraps it up.
Bear in mind that most shootings occur within 6′ or less, so it makes sense  that  the ammunition expenditure would not be all that great. Continue reading

A couple weeks ago, a friend of mine told me his kid wanted to be a cop and was asking for some advice. Here’s my general advice for those who want to be a peace officer in 2015.

1. Learn to shoot like Roy Rogers and Tom Mix. It is incumbent upon the officer to overcome all physiological and psychological influences and simply shoot weapons out of the bad guys’ hands.  If you can master that skill out to 100 yards, you should be fine.  Remember this isn’t the wild west, so officers need to be able to shoot like old cowboy-movie stars.
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There’s always a concern about how police will behave when meeting an armed citizen, particularly at a shooting or crime scene. I can empathize with both sides. Having been the police, I didn’t like anything that would delay or threaten me. On the other hand, as a private citizen, I can’t stand being treated like a felon because the police don’t know me.

Here’s a few things you can do to get along with the police: Continue reading

The Author
Al
Albert League is a former Marine and law enforcement firearm instructor who consults on a variety of security topics.