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Finger off the trigger until the sights are on the target

Discussion in 'Strategies, Tactics and Training' started by Jeff White, Oct 2, 2019.

  1. Jeff White

    Jeff White Moderator Staff Member

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    A simple rule to live by. Fortunately no one was injured but a long career in law enforcement is likely over:

    https://www.stltoday.com/news/local...cle_de61f797-331b-537b-84db-dc435404ecd7.html

    The officer is a 21 year veteran of the St Louis Metropolitan Police Department. I’d be interested to know what kind of weapon he was carrying. Last I heard the issue weapon was a DAO Beretta Auto. But the officer was off duty at the time.
     
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  2. JeffG

    JeffG Member

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    What in the name of "using your head" was an off duty officer doing chasing shoplifters???
    No body armor, no backup, outnumbered, for a property crime that just turned into the possibility of becoming a shooting situation.

    A veteran cop might be expected to use better judgement, and provide the information to a responding unit. I would be willing to bet there was surveillance footage to help identify the suspects.
     
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  3. old lady new shooter

    old lady new shooter Member

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    Obviously he shouldn't have had his finger on the trigger.

    But the article states that "The men assaulted a store manager as they were leaving with stolen merchandise, according to police.", so to be fair, that's more than just shoplifting.
     
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  4. JeffG

    JeffG Member

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    Obviously.

    How long would it have been if he was shot, or run over in the parking garage until help arrived? Being fair here, he may have been in over his head, in this situation.
     
  5. old lady new shooter

    old lady new shooter Member

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    I agree that he didn't need to intervene. The BGs were likely captured on surveillance video in the store where they did the shoplifting and could have been caught later.
     
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  6. labnoti

    labnoti Member

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    Startle reflex. Another one to watch out for is sympathetic squeeze. Since he only put a hole in the parking lot, I doubt this would be a career-ending incident. Chase Bishop (the dancing FBI agent whose ND bullet actually hit someone) had his protection order amended to allow him to continue to carry his service gun.

    Finger off until sights are on is the way to avoid this type of ND. On target, on trigger, off target, off trigger. A finger on the trigger of a gun at low-ready is a clear indication of lack of training, poor training, or poor practice and compliance with training. A finger on the gun at his side is inexcusable negligence, but I am not the one to stipulate consequences.
     
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  7. U.S.SFC_RET

    U.S.SFC_RET Member

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    The finger off of the trigger until you are ready to fire is as good a rule as any. I would take a closer look a that Police Department's training.
     
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  8. tickfarm

    tickfarm Member

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    In the state of Mo. if a shoplifting suspect assaults someone trying to reclaim the stolen property or evade capture the shoplifting is then considered a robbery. What is the policy of the department where the officer works? Is he required to become involved? I agree he shouldn't have had is finger on the trigger.
     
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  9. roo_ster

    roo_ster Member

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    Four Rules apply to all, no matter how experienced.
     
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  10. ATLDave

    ATLDave Member

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    This actually reinforces something I have long believed. Law enforcement officers are generally - not all, but most - painfully slow on the draw. I get to see this a lot when LEO's come out for their first exposure to competition shooting (USPSA), and you can practically hear them counting "1,2,3,4" as they laboriously move through their "draw stroke." It's also clear that someone has told them, and that they believed, "slow is smooth, smooth is fast." They've got the first element down, but they're still waiting for the speed fairy to appear and bestow their reward for all the conscious effort at slowness.

    Now, I think this very slow draw speed is part of why many officers get their guns in their hands way earlier than the time to apply lethal force. If it takes 3 seconds to draw and fire an accurate shot, and you expect to have a 2 second window of decision/action, yeah, I guess you'd better have your mitts on the gun. But if you're under 1.5 seconds from the decision to draw to the first accurate shot, then you can wait.

    Think of it like a baseball player with a long swing... they have to swing assuming a fastball, because if they wait, they can't catch up to it. But that means they have no chance against anything off-speed. Shortening that swing will let them wait just a little longer, see a little more of the ball's trajectory, and make a better call on what pitch is actually coming at them.

    Taking this particular situation, the cop didn't think he had enough information/reason to point the gun at anyone yet... but he still wanted the gun in his hand. The more adrenalized cops you have walking around with guns in their hands, the more of them are going to foul up and pull a trigger, point them somewhere unsafe, needlessly escalate a situation, etc.
     
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  11. Kleanbore

    Kleanbore Moderator Staff Member

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    A shoplifter trying to evade capture does not commit robbery.

    The officer said he drew because he thought the escaping suspect had drawn a weapon. That would not make the crime on of robbery, but it would justify the presentation presentaion of a firearm. But the shooting wa unintentional.

    The "shoplifter" may have committed robbery in the store, or he may not, but that would not enter it.
     
  12. Jeff White

    Jeff White Moderator Staff Member

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    The street is not a USPSA match. If you lose on the street your life is either over or changed forever. You don’t get to shake hands with guy or gal who knocked the plate down first and talk about technique. You get a ride to hospital and then maybe the morgue.

    How many hours of training and practice did it take you to reach your 1.5 second standard? How many rounds did you expend? How often do you practice to maintain that proficiency?

    Now let’s multiply those hours at a rate of say $70 each. (Cost of overtime to train) Then figure in maybe .20 a round for practice ammunition and about 10% more officers on the force because someone has to work the street while the other officers are training and getting a little time off with their families.

    It’s just not practical to train everyone to your standard at the current manning and funding levels.

    Finger off the trigger until the sights are on the target keeps this ND from happening. Teaching and living the 4 universal rules keeps this from happening.
     
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  13. ClickClickD'oh

    ClickClickD'oh Member

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    Also, I don't remember the bad guys ever conveniently yelling "shooter ready" before things go rodeo. Would be awfully nice of them if they did.

    And now for something scary... I remember working with some really old school guys years and years ago who had been trained to start rolling the triggers on their revolvers before they came on target. That's a thought that should make some people shudder, but apparently back in the day was a real thing. Finger off the trigger wasn't how it was always done, or how people always trained. We live it now, but maybe just maybe, some guys out there need remedial training because an expert told them to do it that way once. Training changes. Never assume everyone has had the latest training.
     
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  14. ATLDave

    ATLDave Member

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    Oh, I understand that. And I rarely opine on tactical issues generally. But I think my observation remains perfectly valid. Most cops - not all, but most - are terribly, terribly slow to the first shot.* That means they have to make an earlier decision to draw. And the more people you have running around with guns in hand, the more foul up there are going to be. Law of large numbers.

    Getting to 1.5 seconds is pretty easy. Getting significantly below that takes a lot of work.

    But I completely understand that what you are saying is the rationale for the low level of actual firearms proficiency of most cops. I totally get that.

    The funny thing is, if the people who are so concerned about police use of force would step back a moment, they'd realize that things like higher levels of proficiency with firearms (and also with non-firearm force) would give cops a shorter "OODA loop" (to use the military jargon). And a shorter time between decision and bang means more information... and fewer blown calls. And it also might dramatically reduce the situations in which cops feel the need to have the gun out at all.

    I understand this would require different budget priorities or more money overall. I think it would be a good investment. Pretty sure we could find them money ditching other LE priorities I think are dumb! ;)

    There are quite a few LE officers who do think pretty much the same things I've just laid out - of course, they tend to be the LE guys who are active in competition and/or who do a LOT of self-directed training.

    * And, as you point out, that slowness has much greater potential downsides than mere loss of a USPSA match.
     
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