30 March 2012

No Retreat (but please take cover!)

From the Cop side: Over my cop career, part of my cop job involved training other cops. The firearms training I gave (and still do) brought in lessons learned from other officers who’d been involved in gun fights. One important thing I tried to get across was “PLAN” for everything…and have a backup plan…because shit happens… even plan when you’re going to have a coffee break. Another thing I tried to train cops was: “We don’t retreat. If we fail, there’s nobody else to protect the citizens.” Along with planning, have the best equipment possible, train with it often and take care of it! But, the bottom line is: We don’t retreat, we never quit.

That doesn’t mean we don’t back up and take cover, but we don’t let the bad guy escape if he’s the type who is need of going to jail. Many times I had suspects challenge me when I was doing my job…they’d ask what gave me the right to do what I was doing. I told them: “I don’t have a right, but I have a duty to do what I’m doing, so stop trying to bullshit and distract me from the fact that you’re a criminal and in need of being stopped and checked out.”

Not retreating is not a new concept in American Law Enforcement. It’s been around for a long time and in many cases, the cops died trying to do their duty….but they didn’t retreat. One case we studied in my police academy from 1970, was called the Newhall Massacre. You can watch a video about that here: 

(lessons learned from that case: CHP officers were carrying S&W revolvers.  At the pistol range the unloaded the fired brass into their hands and put it in their pockets- to save the brass!  Guess what was found in some of the CHP officer’s pockets- fired brass. After that, we were training cops to just dump that brass on the ground and reload that old piece of shit revolver as fast as you could. I started bugging my chief in the early 80's to let officers start using auto pistols.)   

Yes, there are cops who were, let’s say less than brave, or, to be honest, fu—ing cowards. I know some, when the sh—hit’s the fan, they run the other way, or are the last cop to arrive on the scene and that’s usually after they hear some other cop put out on the radio that the situation is “code -4” (under control and no further assistance needed.)

But then again, there are some cops who just do amazing shit. If you study the “North Hollywood Shootout” from 1997, you’ll find some Los Angeles Police Officers armed only with handguns who went up against guys armed with fully automatic rifles and NEVER retreated. Lots of cops got wounded, but after literally hundreds of rounds were fired, the cops did their duty and no civilians died---except for the two assholes who were the bank robbers. You watch a video here: 

Our lessons learned from this: We started training officers to use M-4 Carbines and installed them in patrol cars.  A pistol is no match to an assault rifle Chief. 

In 1986, the FBI formed a task force to capture 2 really violent bank robbers.  Here’s a video from the TV movie (it’s pretty accurate).  One thing that came out of this shootout, was the FBI set new standards for law enforcement ammo…because the shit we were using in those days, sucked.  We also started training cops to reload and shoot any weapon with one hand...shotguns, revolvers, semi autos...
And for those real history buffs: 
gunfight at....

                                             What is the best weapon for cops to carry? 

There are several other shootouts in American law enforcement that demonstrated more cases of the cops not retreating and gave the rest of us lesson on how to survive better.  Because some of these events are now considered “ancient history” I’m afraid the lessons will be lost and the next generation of cops (who don’t study history) will end up repeating them again. 

1 comment:

Old NFO said...

Good post, and good point about the lessons being lost... And I'm betting the gent who stepped up was a Korean War vet. At least he got a round into the bad guy. I know one of the folks in the NH shootout, and he said it brought back memories of Nam...