12/15/2009

Edged weapon reminders

By PoliceOne Staff

In the wake of a fatal shooting involving a 62-year-old woman armed with scissors, there are several very important things to remember.

First, remember that scissors (along with screwdrivers, hatchets, broken glass, metal poles, improvised shivs, swords, etc., etc.) are not to be taken lightly. In threatening hands they can go from, as in this instance, a sewing implement to an extremely dangerous, potentially deadly edged weapon. They can be just as effective as a knife for stabbing and slashing and the damage they can inflict can be extreme. When it comes to officer safety and survival, there is no such thing as “just a pair of scissors.”

Second, remember that suspects can cover a surprising amount of ground in a very short time span. Be sure that you’re up on the current findings relative to action/reaction times and the time frames in which distances can be covered. Two extremely important articles to read, published by the Force Science Institute, are Force Science News #120, which explains new research into suspect speed and offers a free “Force Science SpeedGrid” chart you can use for reference and training. The other, Force Science News #17, explores the myths and realities of the 21-Foot Rule of edged weapon defense. Every officer should be fully educated on the facts surrounding threat proximity and be fully prepared to quickly and definitely act accordingly.

Third, remember to stay dedicated to training, motivated to study and understand threat realities and fully prepared to tactically respond as appropriate and necessary to cease a threat, regardless of the cries of the ignorant and untrained. If you look closely at one of the civilian responses to local coverage of the incident, you’ll see an unfortunate illustration of a complete lack of understanding of the realities of a highly threatening, close-quarters scenario like this. The person who shared these comments (i.e., the officers should have fired warning shots, they should have shot the weapon-wielding subject in the leg, the officers should have used martial arts moves to disarm her) isn’t alone...you know that. But in the midst of the clamor, you must stay confidently focused on what you, as a trained officer, know to be tactically true and you must remain dedicated to the ultimate goal: coming home safe and alive after your shift after executing your duties well.

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