I just got back from an armed barricaded suspect call. Why do they always come out right at the end of shift? I was a little taken aback when I saw that the three officers at the door to the knife-wielding suspect’s room were armed with either TASERs or a less lethal beanbag shotgun. I made some adjustments to the personnel configuration and brought a handgun up to the door.
We practice to have lethal cover with a less lethal option available when practical. But the lethal cover should be up front, not from the guy way at the back of the stack. When another sergeant and I did the initial TASER orientation and certification for the entire patrol division some years back, we took some of our SWAT concepts and applied them to the street officers’ instruction.
One of the main training points demonstrated the proper contact and cover movement with two officers. When approaching a possible threat area, the officer with the handgun or long gun is up front and his less lethal back-up behind (when the situation calls for the potential use of a TASER). The ECD-armed officer always has lethal cover.
For instance: “My husband just gave me a black eye.” Where’s he go? “He’s in our mobile home.” Welcome to Florida. May we go check on him? “Sure.” Does he have weapons in the trailer? At this point, I don’t care if she says, “No,” I’m assuming he’s got guns and knives and throwing stars and a broken table leg–everybody is armed.
Follow your policy, but for me, it will start with a knock on the aluminum-skinned door. Hey, buddy, can we talk to you? At the point at which you cross the threshold legally, you and your partner(s) should have a plan which involves both lethal and less lethal options, but the first guy to stick his neck out should have his gun at the ready.
I have read many police-related news articles that screamed TASER Overdependence! at me. Tomorrow’s Read Off will be a debrief of last night’s call and a reminder to apply your levels of force in the proper manner. It is just good officer safety.