Editor’s Note: When it comes to law enforcement training tools, few are as instructive as the dash-mounted video camera. Accordingly, this PoliceOne training series presents select dash-cam videos to illustrate key training concepts. Our goal is not to second-guess officers but to highlight the training and mental preparedness you need to prevail in a sudden and unexpected assault.
We’ve all seen examples of traffic stops that turn violent.
But this is one with a twist — the assailant isn’t the motorist or a passenger, but a pedestrian who seemingly comes out of nowhere to attack South Carolina Deputy Randy Graham.
Fortunately, Deputy Graham had developed the skills he needed to prevail in this assault. Check out the video, and we’ll discuss it below.
Key Skill: Speed of the Draw Stroke
An officer faced with a sudden, unexpected assault will sometimes panic and struggle to draw their pistol. That’s an instinctive and very human reaction to a surprise attack and can only be overcome with regular training. This officer, however, got his pistol into the fight very quickly, using a smooth, fast draw stroke devoid of unnecessary movement.
Unfortunately, too few officers put in the time it takes to develop this kind of controlled speed. As a result, they lack this deputy’s ability to present their weapons without time-consuming “tugs” or other inefficient movements. When they first arrive at my classes, many students take more than 3.0 seconds to get two hits into a target’s upper chest. Some take this long just to draw from their holster.
As this video shows, these response times could have been fatal to Deputy Graham.
Key Skill: Tactical Retreat
While Deputy Graham’s draw stroke was fast, it wasn’t enough to win this fight. Because his assailant was very close and advancing rapidly, the deputy needed additional reaction time. He bought that time by moving back as he drew his pistol. This crucial move put space between him and his assailant, giving him time to draw and distance to avoid being stabbed.
While Deputy Graham was unable to move at angles — because of the vehicle on his right and traffic on his left — he was at least able to move backward and remain out of reach of the suspect and his weapon.
Key Skill: Situational Awareness
This unusual situation reminds us that a deadly attack can come from any direction. While perhaps Deputy Graham should have noticed the approaching pedestrian sooner, his ability to
draw quickly while creating distance greatly contributed to the outcome of this incident.
How often do you practice your draw stroke with your duty holster?
How often do you train to move to your left or right, or at angles as you draw your pistol?
About the author
Mark Schraer is the co-founder and Chief Firearms Instructor for Blackrock Firearms Training. Mark also serves as a Staff Instructor for the National Rifle Association’s Law Enforcement Division. In both roles, Mark has the privilege of working with exceptional trainers while teaching law enforcement, military and security instructors and personnel.
Mark served for twenty-five years as a police officer and sergeant with the Fairfield (Calif.) Police Department. This included thirteen years as a member of the agency’s SWAT Team and almost twenty-years as a tactics and firearms instructor.
Mark was the Lead Firearms Instructor for the last ten years of his career. In this role, Mark developed a firearms training program that was primarily designed to increase an officer’s ability to prevail in even the most challenging armed encounters. The program that Mark developed and spearheaded has become the model for a number of law enforcement agencies and well as a regional police academy program.