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What can we learn from history?

Discussion in 'Strategies, Tactics, and Training' started by leadcounsel, Jan 13, 2015.

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  1. leadcounsel

    leadcounsel member

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    Why are we so slow to adapt and change "good enough" to better from an S&T standpoint?

    In spite of available technology, and perhaps 100 years of magazine fed experience with long-guns and SMGs widely available... and experience of being out-gunned by bootleggers with BARs and Thompsons and 1911s...

    Why, even into the 1980s, were American law enforcement was so slow to adopt higher capacity pistols, and for American companies like S&W to built them given the above, and for law enforcement to carry long guns in their vehicles? Look what designs were either available or easy for a company to copy... going back to WWII some 4 decades prior, there were several excellent SMGs. The Browning HP with a 15 round magazine was around in the decades prior to the 1980s, and the SKS and AK47 were born. We had a few of our own, including the M1 Garand, M14, and M1 Carbine. The M16 and CAR15 were around for a decade or two prior to the 1980s and sold to civilians.

    The cold war was in full effect, and terrorism was in bloom. Drug crimes were booming in the 1970s and 1980s. Violence was quite high, and gun violence was a national problem.

    Yet our LEOs carried 6 shot revolvers by-and-large. :what: Some had shotguns in their cars. I don't believe that carbines or rifles were common.

    Perhaps the answer is that hindsight is 20/20 and military/police are just very slow to make changes when there's no immediate need. Heck, it took a massive bank robbery in LA to get police to adopt AR15 carbines, and a huge shootout in Florida to get the police to adopt better firearms and ammunition. Seems so obvious that police were on a collision course with being out-gunned, why didn't they do more to pre-empt it. I'll start a new thread on this point. That's another discussion perhaps.

    Now most of us aren't LEOs. But what can you take away from this as the world dynamically changes. Or does it dynamically change for you, or perhaps it does and you're simply oblivious to it?
     
  2. GEM

    GEM Moderator Staff Member

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    Expense - take a large city. You have to buy 30,000 new guns. You have to develop and pay for a training program for 30,000 officers.

    Ill trained officers on the new semis didn't work well in some places. DC was a prime example of that.

    The SW Model 39 was adopted in IL in 1967 but didn't sweep departments across the country.
     
  3. Jeff White

    Jeff White Moderator Staff Member

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    GEM is exactly right. Government agencies are slow to change due to the cost involved.

    Even a small agency incurs significant expense changing duty weapons. It's often not the cost of the weapon, the manufacturers heavily subsidize that in the US, especially when Glock was trying to take over the LE market.

    The cost comes in the form of ancillary equipment, holsters, magazine pouches, magazines, new ammunition (if you change calibers) and overtime for training. When my old agency switched from S&W 5906s to Glock 21s there was approximately 8 hours overtime and 1200 rounds of ammunition per officer involved in the transition, not to mention new holsters and mag pouches. Yes Glock sold us the 21s for approx $140 apiece (cost of replacing the tritium night sights on the aging Smiths) with trade in, but total cost was much higher.
     
  4. Jenrick

    Jenrick Member

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    It is not your average LEO who doesn't want change. It is your average LE administrator that is the problem.

    -Jenrick
     
  5. George Dickel

    George Dickel Member

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    I agree, cost is definitely the primary reason, especially for smaller police departments. I would also think that old school thought by police chiefs who used revolvers when they were a rookie. It was good enough for us then and for a hundred years law enforcement officers used revolvers. This was probably more prevalent in the 60's when most PD's used revolvers and semi-auto pistols were still relatively new. Ran up against that attitude in the Army, "we've always done it that way".
     
  6. leadcounsel

    leadcounsel member

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    I am not compelled by a budget argument.

    First, the investment would/would have saved police lives which ultimately costs more than the investment.

    Let's look at armored vehicles in combat zones. We went into OIF/OEF with soft skin vehicles due to the cost of armoring them. Big mistake. Losing a vehicle with 5 GIs turns out to be much more costly than simply adding armor to the vehicle. Same thing applies. Police winning gun battles both is better for both deterance and for the actual incident if it occurs.

    Next, the costs of new hardware are or could be heavily subsidized by gun trade-ins, selling/trading in all the accessories, and even trading in (rather than destroying) confiscated guns (sadly many jurisdictions chop them up which is a sad waste).

    Or other creative revenue generating programs. LEO firearms instructors could offer public firearms training, paid use of the gun ranges, driving instructions, etc. etc. etc. Surely there would be ample interest in this type of training from "experts." Heck, I bet folks would pay to watch demo teams blow stuff up.

    Seems modern LEO has no shortage of budget for all sorts of new fun toys, uniforms, equipment, vehicles, etc.
     
  7. Jeff White

    Jeff White Moderator Staff Member

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    First off, a police department doesn't have the budget the military does, especially during wartime.

    Secondly, where in the US are the police losing gun fights? Too put it simply, firearms are not that important to most police departments. You might recall that the only people killed in the Bank of America shootout were the two bad guys.

    Police departments simply don't engage in fire fights all that often. While it often takes something like the Bank of America shootout to prompt change, police departments in this country are far from being outgunned.

    Replacing squad cars and computers as they wear out eats up much more of the budget then firearms do.

    I challenge you to post an incident less then 20 years old where an officer being armed with an "obsolete" weapon cost a life. It's simply not happening. More money for training would save more lives then replacing duty weapons every time a technological advance is made.
     
  8. Apachedriver

    Apachedriver Member

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    It isn't always just the fault of LE admin. For example, in the NYPD, back when police officers were policemen, many were individually resistant to switching over to the "new" semi-autos from their revolvers. They trusted their abilities thru familiarity of use. Sometimes it's also the "badge of honor" mindset of being part of an old guard. This lasted well after the change was officially implemented in the early '90s and into the 2000s. (I wonder if any are still on the job carrying revolvers.)

    In the military, it's usually the bean counters making the equipment decisions, not actual trigger pullers.

    After 9/11, the control of budgets changed. I was there in '03-'04 and we went in with the gear we had in inventory. I was there again in '05-'06 and '08-'09. The purse strings were definitely loose. Combat arms units were freer to buy mission gear. Support units were buying as well. Soldiers in support units on the FOBs I lived on had all sorts of tacticool gear that never saw so much as the FOB fenceline. This was at the soldier level.

    Anyway, cost and mindset are the most common issues that change must overcome in order to be effected. Situational threats are always a huge motivator to implement change.
     
  9. Sam1911

    Sam1911 Moderator Emeritus

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    We often talk about "hardware vs. softwear" in ST&T. Or "mindset, skillset, toolset, in that order." In this thread we're literally turning that upside down and trying to weigh the actual value of slightly better hardware for the average officer.

    To Jeff's point, for all we love to talk about how much better this new polymer semi-auto is than that old steel wheelgun, and how awesome an AR-15 is compared to an 870, we're really reflecting benefits realized in tiny percentages of lethal force encounters.

    Those differences are huge on the competition field, and can certainly greatly benefit the soldier and increase his/her effectiveness. But when most cops don't ever fire a shot "on the streets" and when the few shootings that do happen don't TRULY point to a tremendous need for more "firepower," that cost-benefit analysis starts to look a lot different.

    Sure, if every department lost one officer this year in a shooting where his revolver or 1911 ran dry or his 870 didn't have the range to take out a rifle-wielding bad guy, then $20K, or $30K, or $500K, or whatever the cost would be to change out platforms is certainly small change in exchange for saving those lives.

    When the number of officers killed per year by gunfire is already pretty low, and when almost all of those killings would have happened regardless of what gun the officer was issued, then it becomes a lot harder to justify a whole nation's worth of departments' weapons upgrade expenses based on the very small handful of deaths in which it MIGHT have helped things.

    It really ISN'T as if very many cops are dying -- or ever really did die in large numbers -- at the hands of better-armed criminals. Even back during Prohibition, the danger to police and society as a whole from all those golden-age bank robbers and gangsters was HUGELY overblown. Very sensational, sold a lot of newspapers, but didn't increase almost law-abiding citizen's (or officer's) real chances of dying at the hands of a Tommy-gun wielding bootlegger.

    Just like upgrading infantry weapons, the tangible benefit of the new system really would have to be overwhelming to compel the command to spend scarce funds on that instead of other things which would probably be more helpful on a day-to-day basis.

    A fleet of new patrol cars with better airbags and better traction control would probably save a lot more officers' lives than switching from a 6-shot sidearm to a 17-shot sidearm.

    So, new weapons platforms are adopted slowly, as service weapons are aged-out and/or incentive programs get pitched successfully to the decision-makers.
     
  10. leadcounsel

    leadcounsel member

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    In terms of pure numbers, and stats, I'd strongly disagree.

    http://www.nleomf.org/facts/enforcement/

    Highlights:
    Granted that's a period of around 225 years... but still even if a small percent of 20,000 officers were "outgunned" which surely some were, that's a lot of officers. And we do know of at least some famous examples.

    I guess one can reasonably conclude that changes in 1) tactics and training, 2) body armor (which is still defeated by rifles and shot placement), 3) medical science/survivability and 4) firepower - would mainly contribute to the reduction from 297 deaths to 150 deaths per year from the 1920s to the 2000s.

    But it is interesting that the last 2 years, few incidents would be related to what we'd probably consider being outgunned... not sure how to read that really.

    2014Circumstances-web-1.png
     
  11. Jeff White

    Jeff White Moderator Staff Member

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    It was not the change in hardware that cut the line of duty deaths down. It was the introduction of standardized training and continual improvement of it.

    The same training revolution happened in the Army around 1979 when then TRADOC commander LTG Don Starry introduced the Battalion Training Management System which evolved into the Army Training Management System.

    It isn't the evolution of the M16 into the M4 that made our Infantry so much more effective now then it was in the 60s and 70s, it was the new training methodology. If any technological advance contributed it was improvements in targeting, night vision and communications. TRAINING is what makes us successful.

    There was a training revolution in law enforcement that started around the same time. Prior to the mid 70s there was very little training, oh sure large departments ran academies but remember most police departments in this United States are small, 10 officers or less.

    There were no POST requirements and local governments, always strapped for cash resisted the establishment of statewide standards. They simply couldn't afford to hire an officer and pay him to attend the academy. They needed him on the street, not in the classroom. The saying went; "They gave me a badge and a gun and I was one!"

    I don't know how it is in other states, but in Illinois the state still reimburses local units of government for a significant portion of the cost of basic law enforcement training. It wasn't until 1992 that Illinois mandated any training beyond the initial required firearms training for a part time (less then 40 hour a week) officer. That was it, all they required. Full time officers were required to go to the academy which was six weeks IIRC. There was no mandated training after that. Other states had more requirements for initial certification but few had any in service training requirements.

    Yes there were a lot of officers killed in the 1920s but it wasn't because they were outgunned. To this day you will find Thompsons, Colt Monitors (LE version of the BAR) Reising SMGs and other old heavy duty weapons in police armories or perhaps on display behind the glass at headquarters.

    The officers were killed in such numbers because they were thrown onto the street with almost no training. It would be the equivalent of taking a new recruit from MEPS and putting him on the plane to Afghanistan and expecting him to learn from the members of his squad.

    The sad thing about the evolution of law enforcement training is that much of it was driven by civil lawsuits.

    It's software, not hardware that has cut the number of officers killed in the line of duty. There aren't that many law enforcement gunfights that it would make one licks worth of difference if the officer was armed with an old school revolver or with the latest Glock.

    When I started in LE back in 1985 (as a reserve officer while still on active duty in the Army) I was issued a S&W Model 65 as my first duty weapon. Next was S&W 5906 then Glock 21. I finished my LE career carrying a Kimber 1911 on duty.

    If I were to go back on the street today I would not feel under armed with that old S&W 65 as long as I had time to get back up to speed with it.

    Line of duty deaths are down because of what an officer has in his head, not on his holster.
     
  12. Phaedrus/69

    Phaedrus/69 Member

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    In addition to training I suspect body armor has cut deaths a bit as well. I think the proliferation of autos and military-style weapons among LE had more to do with tons of drug money from civil forfeitures than any reality of being "outgunned".
     
  13. mbt2001

    mbt2001 Member

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    It is worth noting that Wild Bill Hickok, and others, eschewed the new cartridge fed weapons of the day in favor of his cap and ball revolvers. There is a lot to be said for holding on to what you know and what has worked for you.

    The 1985 Miami shootout had nothing to do with the police department. It was the FBI involved in that shootout and it wasn't the guns or calibers that failed, but the FBI's tactics and lack of coordination with the local police departments.
     
  14. lemaymiami

    lemaymiami Member

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    Y'all are flat missing the boat when considering police weapons, and that's from the point of view of a career in police work that spanned 1973 to 1995 when lots of changes were taking place in police tactics and equipment.....

    For a police administrator and whatever government they work under (city, county, state agency) the firearms that their officers carry are a liability, period. Everyone wrings their hands when an officer is injured or killed on the job - but none of that directly threatens a chief or a city... Making the decision to change or up-grade weaponry for their officers is something that can go astray (at least in the mindset of the folks who have to make decisions... and making changes in training and tactics is something that has risk as well....).

    I remember particularly as a young cop who had the audacity to ask why our firearms training was severely restricted to putting holes in paper targets (and nothing else) as my outfit brought in local FBI agents to do our firearms training... I was told "no department has been successfully sued in court over their firearms training if the FBI does it" True story, and one very frustrated young copper (me).

    I was initially armed with a standard heavy barrel model 10 S&W in the standard hanging style holster... The only additional weapons we were allowed was a riot gun in an electro-lock on the dashboard. We were required to always have our hats on when on a call and we had to wear those really nice shiny dress shoes (that were less than useless if you needed to move quickly on anything other than dry ground...). That was pretty much our situation until about ten years into my career when we suddenly got a chief that was willing to make changes and actually listened to what officers were saying. To equip a hundred man department with SigSauer P229 40cal pistols with night sights was the cost of the pistols times 100 men, the new leather gear was less than 20% of the cost of the sidearms. Officers were allowed a say in their uniforms and we tossed the hats and everyone was allowed to buy black athletic shoes. All of a sudden we were much better equipped and we also began upgrading our training in every respect from how we chose our officer candidates to the training that each one had to undergo after they came out of the academy... Since many of our officers were also teaching at that same academy we began to implement changes in both doctrine, tactical training, and those same trainers were allowed to begin some very serious and advanced officer survival training ( I spent three years in charge of training so I was right in the middle of all of it....) and we required every officer to go through it (this involved on foot, vehicle tactics, search tactics, etc). Part of that training was to "kill" every one that went through the course in every sort of ambush. At the end of it none of our officers would ever just walk up to any car that was occupied....

    The bottom line for police gear (and tactics) is that no good bureaucrat gets an extra nickel for taking chances.... and that's just what every chief (and those that want to be chiefs of police) will be mostly, with rare exceptions. That chief will spend quite a bit of time asking for the gear his/her officers need while dealing with folks above him who consider their police as a severe liability (as well as their most important source of power - something I suspect the mayor of New York will be learning the hard way....).

    I suspect I was very fortunate to have a few really good chiefs (along with a few that weren't anything to admire at all....). It could just as easily have gone the other way. Me, I'm surprised that most outfits are as well equipped and directed as they are. The ones that aren't might go years and years without any trials that test their capabilities. I'll bet the folks working for that small town in Missouri this year found out just how bad things can get with little warning. Didn't seem from an observer's point of view that it went very well for them at all....
     
  15. Nom de Forum

    Nom de Forum Member

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    Police departments for many decades did not consider semiautomatics to be reliable enough. Officers are often alone without a squad of soldiers providing backup if a weapon malfunctions.

    A tradition of using revolvers required compelling evidence of the need of semiauto firepower for the cautiously conservative financial and tactical thinking of the decision makers to be changed.

    The vast majority of police shooting incidents do not resemble military firefights requiring military levels of firepower for successful resolution. The capability for military levels of firepower was not believed to be necessary for routine daily duty. Shotguns, not high capacity rifles, were deemed sufficient when handguns were insufficient.
     
  16. MachIVshooter

    MachIVshooter Member

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    It seems you are operating under the assumption that "in the line of duty" = gunfight. It is actually all-encompassing, including being hit by a vehicle during a traffic stop, crashes during a chase, plain old human error automobile accidents, falls, smoke inhalation trying to save someone before firefighters arrive on scene, and so on. Yes, it includes GSW fatalities as well.

    You also need to bear in mind that the highly publicized shootouts are quite rare; most officers who die from a GSW were ambushed, primarily during traffic stops. What good is a 17 or 19 shot duty pistol with 10 extra mags, or an M4A1 with every imaginable state-of-the-art tacticool accessory, when he takes a 9mm round to the neck the instant he gets to the driver's window?

    Listen to the actual cops here who are trying to explain that it's primarily software, not hardware, making the difference. Not getting into a bad situation in the first place is far better than having superior equipment to fight your way out of it.

    13.
     
  17. Warp

    Warp Member

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    Not all LEO's have the same level of [pistol] training. Some more shall we say more adequately trained than others
     
  18. lemaymiami

    lemaymiami Member

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    I have to go with the "tactics are far more important than weapons" crowd although when I was carrying only a revolver with two speed loaders I was very seriously under-gunned when on the street during the "party years" down here in south Florida. As we amped up our training every officer's time on the street was a lot safer. Not walking into something beats the heck out of trying to get out of an ambush once it goes down. Planning a possible armed confrontation in advance so that your officers have the most advantage possible means a lot less shooting (and the good guys aren't bullet proof...). The actual philosophy is that police work should not be exciting if at all possible (and any young cop who doesn't learn that quickly will soon find other employment if their department catches on.....)
    This sort of stuff has to be maintained over time though (the actual attrition rate nationwide for officers is roughly 10% per year.... that means after ten years have passed by only 10% of those you trained up are still there with many outfits). Most are still in some form of police work - but not with the same agency... This figure was arrived at by following a few graduating classes at large departments -researchers were surprised to find that only 10% of a graduating class was still at their original department after ten years... That has serious implications for pensions, training, lots of stuff.

    I've been out of police work for 19 years now and some of our local officer deaths have me concerned that tactics we once preached and practiced aren't even being remembered.... in this current generation. Looking at the "back to the seventies" rhetoric and actual practices on the street in big cities these days tells me that most departments really need to beef up their "anti-ambush" tactics and training (look no further than New York city to see the future in policing if we don't turn this anti-police stuff around). Looking at the recent video from Paris where a cop in a vehicle comes under hasty ambush by two guys with automatic weapons... this was something we actually trained for during my era. At least on my department we did pretty well -we never lost one officer on the street during a time when three cops a year -every year- were being killed on the job down here.
     
  19. TestPilot

    TestPilot Member

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    The reason is quite simple.

    The policies, procedures, and tactics are writen by people who may not have any actual knowledge of the subject matter. They are status quo keepers.

    Cops were not actually slow to learn the advantage of self-loaders with higher capacity. It was the stupid administrators who were kicking and moaning to resist the change that eventually got dragged into approving it.

    Same thing with better tactics. It is not necessarily the best person for the job drawing tactical procedures. It is very often someone writing it for no other reason that the person has seniority or holding a certain rank. Once it is written, keeping it is a matter of the writer's ego. Any minor defect is brushed off as the fault of the person executing it not correctly. No change is made until someone gets killed.

    No, I say it is not because of cost.

    Glock is no expensive than a revolver. Some tactic changes do not involve a cost, and correct tactics actually lowers liability and casualty cost.

    Some of the defective resistance to what makes sense actually costs more. There are plenty of examples of organizations wasting a whole lot of money on things that makes zero sense to defend an obsolete position.
     
  20. TestPilot

    TestPilot Member

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    Looking at death numbers may distort the issue. There are countless incidents involving high round counts and no deaths.

    One incident involved both parties firing way more than standard magazine capacity (12 round for a Glock 21) and the cop and the criminal both ended up at a hispital.

    However, since the cop did not die, it would not appear as if it makes a strong case in terms of number of deaths.
     
  21. Sam1911

    Sam1911 Moderator Emeritus

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    And how many of those were there...?
     
  22. TestPilot

    TestPilot Member

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    A cop with even moderate training will have no problem hitting a target upto 25m with a rifle or shotgun. So, that does not make a case against cops getting rifle or shotguns.
     
  23. TestPilot

    TestPilot Member

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    I don't have the numbers, there has been enough to for me to know that it is a possibility when the opponents are not the type who just runs at the sight of a gun.

    Even if I did survive a gun fight with a 6 shot pistol, "Hey I won, and I still got one shot left" would not leave me in a comfortable position.

    The point is that numbers should not matter.

    A chance of oxygen masks used on a 747 among millions of passengers each year is even less than cops getting shot at, but that does not justify not having it.

    And, we're talking about approving personal rifles and issueing pistols that cost less than its 6 shot counterpart. Not like spending a whole lot more money.
     
  24. TestPilot

    TestPilot Member

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    For the life of me, I cannnot understand why every equipment discussion is turned into "equipment vs. training" argument.

    No one is suggesting to train less because of better equipment.
     
  25. Sam1911

    Sam1911 Moderator Emeritus

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    :D Well, then you are clearly not employed in a position that does very broad risk-vs.-benefit calculations involving large populations and large sums of money. Like saying that an auto manufacturer should do a recall on a model if a defect contributes to the death of ... how many people a year? One? One hundred? One thousand? At what "break-over" point does settling out of court and paying the survivors off cease to be a better option than recalling hundreds of thousands of cars to fix a relatively rare failure?

    You can say that you're convinced that upgrading a nation's worth of cops' guns is worth it because some (one? one hundred? one thousand?) might be out-gunned and die as a result, but a huge, non-cohesive, national community of agencies and departments under tens of thousands of differing authorities, jurisdictions, pressures, budgets, and conditions does not work like that.

    You sound like you're arguing with ME, trying to convince ME (or us) that switching to Glocks and ARs is a good idea. No need for that. I completely agree with you. What we're discussing here is why agencies and the law enforcement world at large hasn't been quick to do so, and isn't now, and won't be in the future.
     
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