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August 06, 2012
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Doug Wyllie, PoliceOne Editor in Chief 10-43: Be Advised...
with Doug Wyllie, PoliceOne Editor in Chief

No body armor can stop a vehicle

Vehicles present myriad dangers to police officers.

I’ve written in the past about the dangers of being dragged by a vehicle, as well as the need to regularly practice quickly ‘unassing the vehicle’ to engage a threat. 

In the former, I talk about the danger of reaching into a suspect’s vehicle as they attempt to escape. It’s almost a visceral reaction, much like that which we must be cognizant of on the pistol range. If you drop your gun, let it fall, lest you snag the trigger as you snatch at the falling firearm. 

In the process of writing the latter of those two items, something that ended up on the proverbial cutting room floor is worthy of mentioning today.  In that tip, I’d talked about the various scenarios when you would want to stay in your car instead of quickly getting out of it. Sometimes it’s better to press the pedal than press the trigger, I had said.

Well, bad guys know this too. In fact, we regularly see dash-cam video such as that which was recently released out of Idaho, where a 33-year-old fugitive named Justin Todd deliberately took aim and attempted to run down Idaho State Police Corporal Michael Thomas Keys.

Keys’ reaction was cat-like as he jumped up onto the hood of the oncoming vehicle and continued to fire on the man who meant to use his car to kill lawman.

Keys had damned little choice in the matter — no matter where he was positioned in that scenario, Todd was almost certainly going to try to run him over. We’ll never know for certain, because Todd is still dead (he was shot 10 times and died at the scene), but I’m pretty comfortable in coming to that conclusion. 

Sometimes, however, we see officers deliberately stepping into the path of vehicle, unnecessarily putting themselves at risk. 

In fact, one such incident was posted just this weekend. An NYPD officer who had been writing a citation for some manner of non-moving violation on a Ferrari 458 Spider seems to have attempted to use his foot as a chock. Check out the video, and then continue reading below.

I really don’t want to pile on this cop, who I will bet is a fine officer, but this was not a good idea. 

In that video we see the driver — who clearly thinks he’s the most important person in the world — hop into his $250,000 hot rod and attempt to pull away from the officer before the citation can be completed.  The cop puts his foot into the path of the front left tire, leaning into the fender as if to prevent the car from moving. 

Depending on which model year it is, the Ferrari 458 Spider has something like 570 horsepower. A man’s foot is not going to stop those ponies from moving — ever.

The vast majority of a law enforcer’s time spent 10-8 is spent either within or someplace very nearby that vehicle. Seatbelts (as in, not wearing them), speed (as in, excessive), and squished (as in, having some or all of your body getting underneath a car) are just a few of the dangers about which officers must be wary.

Despite Hollywood depictions of coppers boldly stepping in front of an oncoming vehicle to put rounds into the driver’s windscreen — think Mel Gibson or some other such fictional ‘cop’ — the last place on Earth you want to be is staring down the barrel of a fast-approaching bumper if you can avoid it.

Sometimes, like in the case of Corporal Michael Thomas Keys, you just don’t have a choice.  Sometimes, like in the case of the NYPD officer in that YouTube video, you do. 

Remember, they simply don’t make body armor that can protect you against a two-ton projectile. 

Stay safe out there my friends. 


About the author

Doug Wyllie is Editor in Chief of PoliceOne, responsible for setting the editorial direction of the website and managing the planned editorial features by our roster of expert writers. In addition to his editorial and managerial responsibilities, Doug has authored more than 750 feature articles and tactical tips on a wide range of topics and trends that affect the law enforcement community. Doug is a member of International Law Enforcement Educators and Trainers Association (ILEETA), and an Associate Member of the California Peace Officers' Association. He is also a member of the Public Safety Writers Association, and is a three-time (2011, 2012, and 2014) Western Publishing Association "Maggie Award" Finalist in the category of Best Regularly Featured Digital Edition Column. Even in his "spare" time, he is active in his support for the law enforcement community, contributing his time and talents toward police-related charitable events as well as participating in force-on-force training, search-and-rescue training, and other scenario-based training designed to prepare cops for the fight they face every day on the street.

Read more articles by PoliceOne Editor in Chief Doug Wyllie by clicking here.

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