Today we reach into the Force Science News mailbox to take the pulse of our readers. Some letters have been edited for length and clarity. The views expressed do not necessarily reflect the thinking of the Force Science Research Center or Force Science News, but are intended to prompt discussion and consideration if issues important to us all.


First, an officer reflects back on what he considers a wrongful accusation of abuse of force…





Thanks for the Force Science Research Center! In 1986 I was charged with unlawfully wounding a suspect who hit me in the head with a full bottle of wine as I was attempting to arrest him for shoplifting.


I shot to defend myself. One bullet hit him in the upper rear shoulder as he turned to run. The Commonwealth and city charged me, saying I “shot him in the back.” I lost my job for 6 years but got it back in 1992, but with no back pay and the loss of the 6 years.


I am a corporal now with the same department and wish FSRC was around then. The suspect and several of his friends committed perjury on the witness stand.


Keep up the good work. It is very helpful in a lot of these types of cases.


Cpl. James Powell

Norfolk (VA) PD




In the last transmission of Force Science News [#44, 5/12/06] we reported on a panel discussion about the current state of deadly force training, held at the recent annual conference of the International Law Enforcement Educators & Trainers Assn. (ILEETA). We invited your feedback about the views expressed by the panelists. Here’s a cross section of what you had to say:




We trickle down SWAT tactics to our patrol officers and it works. SWAT emphasizes “initiative-based” or “thinking” tactics”. Since we are encouraging our officers to think, we should be providing them with a tactical footprint that makes them think in training and on the streets.


In today’s training world, the focus tends to be on the tactic and the proper application of that tactic in a scenario. Hence, officers are taught to survive that particular scenario but not provided with the ability to adapt when confronted with a real-life situation.


The scenario should be of secondary importance. It is how the officer emotionally reacts, what the officer does (tactically), and why the officer did it (was it the best option) that is of primary importance and concern. If officers cannot control their startle reaction, it does not matter what tactics they know.


Decision-making needs to be at the forefront of all training events. In my agency, we do bring the streets to the range and conversely we require our sergeants to evaluate the effectiveness of that training in the operational field environment. If it works in training but fails on the street, the training needs to change. Dr. Larry Blum has provided my agency with a platform for engaging officers in a training environment that is based on decision-making under stress. It works.


Sgt. Quinn McCarthy

Proficiency Skills Supervisor

Tucson (AZ) PD




I agree it is becoming more difficult to find prospective LE candidates with the “willingness” to do what may be required of them in a lethal-force encounter. When we are required to train such persons, there is much to be done before we can begin to cover the skills and tactics required to “win” in these situations. Often, because of time and schedule restraints, what may be necessary to educate these people gets left out. The legal requirements, acceptable standards and skills associated with use of force incidents are taught, but the student now has the skills to perform tasks that he/she may still feel uncertain about.


We must deal with the “morality” issues that are in the forefront of many officers’ minds. If we follow the findings of Lt. Col. Dave Grossman, many young people are desensitized and don’t understand the realities of violence in modern society. All that is part of this complex topic.


Another aspect, which you so capably point out, is the education of officers on the proper way to deal with the aftermath of any use of force. Within each agency some significant education needs to take place, with involvement of the department administration, jurisdictional government, and the legal profession involved in prosecuting and defending cases on both criminal and civil sides. In essence, we are playing a game in which we do not know all the rules, a game we can too easily lose.


Capt. Mark A. LeBlanc

Opelousas (LA) PD




One of the katas we practice in Goju Karate is called Sanchin. One of its many meanings is 3 battles: the mind, body, and spirit. 1st battle: Can I defeat my opposition? (mind). 2nd battle: The actual fight (body). 3rd battle: Was my response to the threat justified? (spirit). Phil Messina has taught me, Tony Blauer taught me, and Calibre Press taught me: GET HOME!


CO Michael Hamilton

NJ Dept. of Corrections




As a trainer, I have found that even with veteran officers, their ego often gets in the way. Therefore, “I am not going to lose my job and my house” gets in the way of doing what is necessary to resolve the conflict in the best interests not only of their safety but that of the public. Ego distracts from learning, excelling and coming to a clear understanding of what you think, can or will do in a particular situation.


Most veteran officers will make the tough decision and live with it. Others are more afraid of doing what would be considered “objectively reasonable.” We consistently train in “appropriateness.” We try to give officers a variety of methods and tools to resolve the situations at hand. All must be reasonable, albeit some may be unconventional though still appropriate.


Dpty. Michael Valencia

Training Division, La Crosse County (WI) SO




About two years I ago I left civilian LE on a full time basis for a better paying job teaching Military LE and Security for the US Air Force Security Forces. What I found was frightening!


Their qualification still consists of punching holes in paper targets. Their self-defense and control training consists of static fine-motor-skill techniques that not one single airman has been able to recreate after the academy under circumstances offering the slightest degree of resistance. Weapons retention was taught by demonstration and PowerPoint, with not one single hands-on repetition!


The force-on-force exercises they do incorporate consist of using MILES laser gear, while thousands of rounds of marking cartridges sit in storage. Evaluators are quick to “kill off” good guys they see make a mistake instead of telling them, “You’re hit! Keep fighting! Take cover! Return fire! Don’t quit! Never, EVER quit!”


I have already made sweeping changes in areas that are in my power to change, but many more are needed. I will continue to fight the fight, and build the warrior spirit as best I can.


Billy Matheny

Security Forces Training Instructor




It has been my experience in LE (since 1959) that there has always been a significant percentage of officers who should have gone to work for the post office rather than the PD. There has always been a reluctance to train and even a reluctance to engage the criminal element because the officers were not capable or were afraid. Perhaps in recent times, as salaries and benefits have increased, the percentage of this type of recruit has increased, but they are nothing new.


Unfortunately, while the real sheep dogs are honing their skills to be more proficient in the field, the imitation sheep dogs learn to manipulate the civil service systems and a great number of them wind up in administrative positions far removed from the reality of the streets. This of course compounds the problem


As a trainer I would rather take a true warrior and teach him manners and how to get along in “proper” society than to take a Teflon diplomat and teach him to be a warrior. If they don’t have the instincts to “run to the sound of the guns” I doubt if many of them can be taught to do so.


Academy trainers need to weed out the most blatant wannabe’s and administrators need to assign the remainder to clerical or public relations posts and leave the streets to the warriors.


Neil Mulvey, Managing Director

Personal Security Institute, Newberry (FL)




I see it becoming harder and harder to find good people who are still willing to be brutally violent when necessary. This is very prevalent with my generation (under 32 years of age). The “political climate” is much to blame for this, as well as the “Hollywood Training” the public receives.


I see no fault in the trainers or the use-of-force continuum. It is the willingness to do what is needed to prevail that is missing in most of my younger colleagues. Violence is both ugly and necessary, but when the public accepts a video game like “25 to Life” as just a game and at the same time expects officers to “shoot the gun out of his hand” we are fighting an uphill battle that has little to do with actual fighting.


The battle is not one of teaching the correct tactics and techniques, it is one of changing the way society looks at these altercations.

Ptlm. Dan Brady

Burlington (VT) PD




I’m retiring this month after 32 years with state police/highway patrol. Before that I spent 14 months on a city PD, some time with a railroad PD, and 4 years active duty military LE/base security. The firearms, baton and hand-to-hand instructors at the academies I went to all stressed there are only 3 rules in LE:


#1 – Always go home at the end of the shift.

#2 – It’s better to be tried by 12 than carried by 6.

#3 – Always follow #1.


I wasn’t involved in any gunfights. Close a few times. Each time I made the decision that if the suspect went one step closer or moved to his left, etc., I would shoot. Been in lots of fights. In all cases I followed those rules.


Sgt. Raymond Meyer

CA Hwy. Patrol




I would like permission to hand out several portions of transmission #44 to emphasize the importance of applying classroom lessons to the street environment. I work on a naval base where there are many who suffer under the misconception there are no violent criminals in the military. I believe there are points in your article that will assist me with disproving this concept and possibly improve the survival rates.


Kurt Hearth, DT instructor

DOD Police




I agree there are WAY too many people in LE now who just want a paycheck. That is the direct result of those who have for years tried to get LE personnel with college degrees, raised in a climate of academia and for the most part liberal. They want personnel who will die rather than take the shot.


As for the training officers not doing enough, we do great for the money we are allowed. We are lucky to get enough for ammo and to pay the officers for their time! That leaves none for the fancy scenarios the panelists propose. They are great ideas, but how????


Officer Steven Baum, DT/firearms instructor

Niagara Falls (NY) PD



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Written by Force Science Institute

May 26th, 2006 at 5:09 pm

Force Science News #45:

Force Science News Mailbag

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