Training and Unnecessary Force

Pistolcraft would like to thank Bob Davis for the opportunity to begin a discussion on the concepts of training as it effects the use of force by police. His podcast featuring our founder Steve Rogers can be found here : http://thebobdavispodcasts.com/minneapolis-police-shooting-exposes-training-questions-podcast-650/
He can also be found on Facebook at: https://www.facebook.com/bobdavispodcasts/

Over the years working both in the private security field, as well as as a legal consultant / expert witness we learned how little training law enforcement and private security actually receive. Desiring to set the bar higher, our founder has obtained instructor certifications in two of the most respected systems for law enforcement control and combatives. Our goal being to teach not only our own officers for our sister company R. Steven Rogers Protective Services to a much higher standard, but to enhance the training available to outside agencies both public and private.

When force is used there is generally a knee-jerk reaction by the public and the media, and very little is done to explore the realities of how such situations occur and play out. A number of recent shootings by law enforcement have resulted in significant anger over the lack of prosecution of the officer, however in many cases the officer acted within the law and policy. What, in our opinion, was lacking from the dialogue was an analysis of the situation with a few key questions included. Why did the situation result in deadly force? Would an officer with more training in de-escalation, combatives and control have been able to cause a different outcome? In most of the cases we review, we find the answer is yes.

So the problem for us is that many of these outcomes were completely avoidable, and most folks seem to instinctively grasp that, and so they protest, riot and call for the officer’s head on a platter. And while the officer certainly needs to be accountable legally and ethically for their actions, there is no demand for the same when it comes to the Police Chief, Mayor, head trainer, or other responsible parties. The officer in many cases becomes a scapegoat so the people that actually created the environment that caused or allowed the situation to occur go almost entirely unnoticed, where the officer did the best they could with the skills available.

While this is not the only component involved in the problems we have with modern law enforcement, we believe it is a very significant issue. I do not have a single friend in law enforcement that believes their skills are truly adequate. When the average training for cops in Defensive Tactics is somewhere around 4 hours a year and most only qualify with their firearm once a year, can you really expect anything other than the problems we are facing?

The private sector has its own issues as well. Recently an off-duty training manager for a large private security firm used pepper spray on a vulnerable adult with autism for eating a free cookie at a grocery store. Clearly the public and private systems need a sea change when it comes to how we approach the very root concepts of the role and its expectations.

While there are no easy fixes to the problems we face, we are doing everything we are able through training and education to provide comprehensive risk management solutions through our companies. We teach Defensive Tactics, Firearms, and a variety of other subjects to private security, law enforcement, emergency medical, fire and civilians in many fields. Our hope with this blog post is to start a conversation that will get more and more people looking at more than just the field officer and instead focus their attention on some of the root causes that need to addressed to begin to reverse decades of dangerous policy.

Police in Crystal, MN shoot man with airsoft gun

On Wednesday, Crystal, Minnesota police shot a man in a park who refused to drop a gun. Today it emerged that the shooting involved an 18 year old man, Kahleel Thompson, with an airsoft replica gun. Social media is ablaze with cries of injustice, and how the cops should have known better, etc. Before we address some of the realities of this type of situation, lets take a quick look at the facts as reported as of the time of this writing.

According to the initial reports by the police the subject refused to drop his gun, they warned him and then fired. Today the BCA announced that the subject pointed his gun at officers, one officer fired less lethal rounds and the other three fired live rounds. The mother of the subject reported her son has a history of mental illness, and that Crystal police had been called to check on him numerous times. Story here.
Police fired dozens of rounds at Thompson, reportedly “eventually” per the BCA, indicating that the officers attempted to allow the less lethal rounds have effect before firing. There is squad video of the shooting but it will not be released for some time. The Crystal police chief noted that the officers immediately provided first aid. Story here.

3 friends of Thompson called police Tuesday night around 10pm, saying he had been recently diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia and had attempted suicide months earlier. According to the friends the police spent about two minutes checking on him and then left. He is also reported as having been pulled from school recently, been hospitalized more than 10 times for mental illness, and had attempted suicide many times including an incident in St. Louis Park that required a negotiator. Story here. 

So what we have here is a tragedy that involves a number of factors that could have prevented it. This is not a social blog, so I will just briefly touch upon the complete disaster that the mental health system is in Minnesota, the questions of why this young man did not have better help or supervision, and why after such serious incidents he was wandering around with a realistic looking replica firearm.

The realities that are not well known are what is the root of the matter. When law enforcement, private security or armed citizens are faced with a deadly threat, there are rarely seconds to react. It can quite literally be a split second decision with the average gunfight being just a few seconds from start to finish. The decision to fire or not is just a small part of that. Then we get to the realism of replica firearms. My firm, Pistolcraft, trains civilians, military, law enforcement etc. utilizing replica firearms that are designed specifically for force on force training as the only way to properly practice these skills is in as realistic a setting as possible. Yet it would be accurate to say that they are toy airsoft guns that shoot plastic BBs.

Save the orange tips, which can easily be altered or removed, there is almost no chance these guns could be distinguished by most quickly, they are all metal, weigh the same as the real thing, and are machined to be exact replicas. So cries of “it was just a toy” have no basis in reality until evidence is released and we see the gun that was being held by Mr. Thompson.

Law enforcement and other trainers have cautioned for years about real guns being painted to look like toys, and there have also been real guns concealed in nerf guns and super soakers. So even if a person points what externally appears to be a bright plastic gun there is still no guarantee that it shoots water. I won’t even delve off down the dirt road that other harmful substances can be used in squirt guns.

Then there are the claims by the mother that the Crystal police should have known who the subject was, that he was mentally ill, and not fired. Even if they knew his identity – and there has been NO mention of that being the case – would it be reasonable to expect the officers to react differently to someone who is known to be suicidal and has forced the use of a negotiator who is holding what may well have been indistinguishable from a real firearm? Suicide by cop is a real phenomenon and, in this case Thompson’s friends stated to police that they believed that was his motivation on Wednesday.

In the end, until we see the video, we at Pistolcraft cannot form an opinion to the justifiability of this shooting. All we can do is recognize the horrible events for what they are. A troubled young man has been shot including in the brain and the spinal cord and his life, at best, will be dramatically changed. Four officers have to learn to live with what happened that day. It is no small thing to learn to live with taking or nearly taking a life. The families of all involved have had their lives altered. And the hysteria from the SJW crowd is not helping any of them. Should we be vigilant? Of course. Should we ensure that justice prevails? Every time. But allowing hysteria and misinformation to rule is doing everyone involved an injustice that will, if allowed to become the norm, have grave consequences for our society.

-The staff at Pistolcraft.

The exploitation of tragedy and the death of Liberty

The senseless act of another madman has gripped the nation. We offer our sincerest sympathies to all of those affected.

However, in reviewing the news coverage of the event, we find that we must speak up as there is a political movement afoot that is attempting to use this tragedy to prove the need to further control the people.
In this article  We noticed something that is of concern.
“The Fort Lauderdale suspect had a gun in his checked bag, investigators said. An additional layer of security at airport entrances could gain new support if officials find that it could have helped detect the weapon.”

This comment references an ongoing movement that has previously failed to gain support.

What gun folks know, but this article omits, is that all firearms in checked baggage MUST BE DECLARED WHEN CHECKING THE BAG. It is very likely that the airline knew this firearm was on board the aircraft, along with the TSA. All checked bags are scanned prior to being placed aboard, so the chances are very high that an undeclared weapon would be caught. I had a very small multitool (about 1.5″ long and nary a half inch wide) get picked up recently. There are explosive sniffers that can detect ammunition as well as x-ray and other scans to look for metal and other suspicious objects. 

And as a member of the ready reserve, he was still a member of the military. While this would not have afforded him special treatment, (A friend of mine in the military missed a single round of ammo on a bag and had a very unhappy TSA to deal with) a member of the military traveling with a firearm in his checked baggage  would certainly not have raised any alarms

So we have an operating assumption that the firearm was legally in his checked bag. This kind of changes the flavor of this quote, and its unrelated “push” a bit. It is very easy to find out how this works, each airline has a weapon transportation page, and the TSA does as well. How firearms travel on aircraft has not changed in a long time. This article as well as this one, supports our theory as to the weapon being checked.

So, then we could finish their sentence (my comments not italicized) to reflect reality – “could gain new support if officials find that it could have helped detect the weapon” that they already knew was on board.

Should they not consider detecting mental illness? The mental heath system is this country is a joke, but that is not the focus of our article despite the fact this person had previous contact with the system and told the FBI that the government was controlling his mind and making him watch ISIS videos.

It then seems a reasonable assumption that the direction of the narrative is carefully crafted to prey upon the ignorance of the vast majority when it comes to reality and reshape their perceptions to elicit an emotional response. It has long been common on Capitol Hill for politicians to move in fast with bills written long ago just waiting for the right crisis. 

Any negative event should indeed be investigated and used to grow and learn, but the timing alone makes this the exploitation of a horrifying event, and that should not only disgust us, but be a warning sign. No good comes from policy or legislation in the heat of the moment. I have friends on all ends of the political spectrum, and my sincere hope is that despite their differences they can appreciate the lessons of history when emotional reactions power political ambitions.

Let people absorb and comprehend. Let people mourn. Let people breathe. Then open a full and honest dialogue with real experts and equal time.

The dangers of disarms

So recently there have been a few instances near me of civilians attempting to disarm an assailant. One was on the North side of Minneapolis, oft referred to as “Murderapolis”, where with the number of gun crimes being as high as it is, this was bound to happen. The victim in this case tried to disarm the attacker and was shot in the process. We are working on obtaining the scanner traffic for this event. The condition of the victim is unknown.

The other instance happened today, where a bank manager decided to try the same thing based on his determination that the gun was fake. He is very lucky as the gun was not only real, but was loaded. STORY HERE.

While we have studied and taught disarms for many years, this is not a technique that should ever be attempted by anyone who is not ery skilled at not only the physical move, but many other skills that are needed as well. Physical combatives require significant ability to make situational assessments, determine which, if any physical skills should be applied, and when.

We have always recommended physical combatives training, advanced first aid and other skills to our students. The carry of a gun is merely one link in the self-defense chain.

Orlando – The dangers of reactionary news and politics

We at Pistolcraft extend our deepest sympathies to those affected by the events in Orlando. We do not seek to politicize this tragedy, but to try to reverse that trend. We do not normally blog on political issues, but as this event is being used to attempt to strip gun rights, we feel it appropriate to opine on the matter and try to shed some light on the logical failings of the current narratives.

So within hours of an event that can only be described, at best, as tragic the media and the politicians were whipping out the usual dog and pony show. The electorate was chomping at the bit for something to blame. This is business as usual, and sadly the people still do not recognize how they are being played.

There was a clamoring for gun control almost immediately by the “left”. This is stock in trade and at best, disingenuous and disgusting. No facts were yet available; the victims had not been identified nor the crime scene processed. The lack of respect for the dead, the loved ones who were not even aware that they had suffered a tragic and inexplicable loss, and the truth is inexcusable.

There was fervor on the “right” to blame Muslim extremism for this event, as the alleged shooter had been on the radar of law enforcement. Never mind that he had not done anything that warranted detention, questioning, or arrest. So much for innocent until proven guilty. While it is possible that reports of his professing allegiance to ISIS are accurate, this does not by itself prove motive. This article

goes so far as to suspect infiltration of the federal security apparatus since the shooter worked for a security company that has some ties to the government. Note that there is NO evidence that this specific person ever worked in any such capacity. For the record G4S is huge, with 623,000 employees, only a tiny fraction of which are in US government service

Others focused on the “hate crime” aspect. Clearly, few violent crimes would be considered “love crimes” or even “mild affection” crimes. But there was nothing known about the shooter early on, even his identity. So how can anyone legitimately ascribe a motive to his actions? The sole fact that the shooting happened in a venue that catered to a particular class of people automatically ascribes motive under the current social mindset.

We have, as a society, largely lost the ability to think critically and to reason. Few will decide their own minds for themselves based on fact and evidence.

So here we are a day later, and the facts that are emerging are painting an entirely different picture of what may have led up to the almost unimaginable happening in Orlando. Articles are coming out with witness statements identifying the shooter (we choose not to name him) as having spent a notable amount of time in the venue he chose prior to the events of yesterday. Others state on the record that he had used apps oriented towards gay dating and one person claims he was asked out romantically by the shooter. Article here. Here. And here.

It has been noted that homophobia can stem from repressed sexuality, and someone who is from a faith that denounces homosexuality could certainly be affected by this. Certain sects of Christianity, Catholicism, and the Muslim religion all declare being gay to be somewhere between unacceptable and evil. Nine countries still punish homosexuals with the death penalty. So the possibility that this young man’s actions were not the result of being a terrorist, but a confused and conflicted soul is certainly worth examination.

In my work in investigations and as an expert witness, it is very apparent that after a full investigation, when as many facts are known as are likely to be it still takes days, weeks, sometimes months to pore through the data and form an opinion as to what actually happened. Motive is generally not something that one will ever be truly sure of. Yet within minutes to hours, as if with pure psychic ability the talking heads are certain of facts and motives that cannot possibly be known.

It is clear that the concept of the press as an objective source of information is a thing of the past. The major media are owned by just a handful of holding companies. The politicians from both parties are clearly more interested in advancing their own narrative than in representing the people that elected them and know that time is short, and they need to paint that narrative very quickly, before facts can derail their ability to utilize events to whatever advantage they are currently seeking. Sadly, people from all sides of the political spectrum fall prey to this.

We will address the Constitutional issues and the police response in later articles.

Fatal Shooting in Brooklyn Park, MN was self-defense

Police have confirmed to the Star Tribune that a homeowner who shot a man last night was a holder of a permit to carry a firearm, and that no arrests were made. The Hennepin County Sheriff’s Office crime lab is still on scene, and more details will likely be available soon.

According to a witness that spoke to KSTP television,it began as a robbery of a child who had a “box of money belonging to the family”, when the father got involved and shots were fired.

We will keep following this story as it develops.

Bicyclists assaulted in Mpls, police issue warning

Minneapolis prides itself on being a bicycle friendly town. Clearly not everyone is on board.

Friday brought two separate incidents of assaults on bicyclists with chunks of concrete and brick. One of the victims was seriously injures and will require significant reconstructive surgery. His jaw is wired shut and his face shattered. He will need several plates near his cheek. The police do not have any reason to believe this was anything other than a random attack, according to this news story.

The police report having a list of other similar events happening as well. So if you ride a bike, especially in Minneapolis, make sure to be aware of your surroundings at all times. This specific attack was by someone in a white bronco.

This tragic incident illustrates one of the reasons that even in our basic courses, we have always taught that awareness and avoidance are true self defense. No skill at arms, no martial art would have done anything to prevent this from happening.

The entire staff at Pistolcraft wish Mr. Jensen a speedy recovery, and hope that by spreading this story not only will people become more aware, but that the person or persons responsible will be spotted and captured. Call the minneapolis police if you have any information about this crime.

There are also fundraising efforts underway to aid Mr. Jensen in his medical bills, the link is in the news story, however we always advocate caution when donating to such causes to ensure that the money is going to the victim and not being absorbed by a third parties overhead.

FSI study on finger placement and ready positions

While there are those who disagree with the FSI on some issues, this study seems to be well done, with the factors well accounted for.

http://www.policeone.com/Officer-Safety/articles/8519025-How-much-do-finger-placement-and-ready-position-matter/

This study is mostly in keeping with our real-world and training experience. While it is not gospel, and we do not follow this as a methodology, it is good that there are studies being performed and techniques analyzed on this understudied subject.

 

2 year old fatally shoots mother with unattended handgun

On the day after Christmas  a woman was fatally shot while shopping with her 2 year old son and her nieces when she left her handbag with a concealed handgun unattended. This tragedy, like many, was completely avoidable.

While we are not trying to “armchair quarterback” this loss of life, we feel that some important lessons clearly need to be pointed out here. Our courses have always recommended against any method of carry that is off the body for a number of reasons including the ease of theft (one cut from behind through the purse strap and it’s gone),difficulty of access, and more. One of the key reasons for us is that by its nature, one must surrender immediate control of the weapon whether setting it down, hanging it in a restroom stall, or other similar reasons. From there it is a very short journey indeed to losing conscious control of the weapon through distraction or inattentiveness.

Clearly being a “gun person” and regular trips to the range did not present her with this perspective. This is why we always recommend to our students to train in all facets of personal protection from first aid to self-defense, etc. Train in a wide variety of subjects from many instructors.

As always our sympathies go out to the family and friends of the victim.

STORY HERE

 

 

 

 

USPSA website hacked – UN&PW in the open

Important notice for our readers who are USPSA shooters: The USPSA website was hacked and a list of emails and passwords published in the open.

Whatever email address and password you used to login to USPSA is compromised, if you use that password anywhere else I’d recommend changing it immediately.

LINK TO USPSA HERE

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