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May 30, 2003
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Gary T. Klugiewicz Klugie's Corner
with Gary T. Klugiewicz

Tactical Operations: Firearm deployment to quickly stabilize events

Tactical Operations: Firearm Deployment to Quickly Stabilize Events

By Gary T. Klugiewicz
Director of Training
Redman Training Division
January 22, 2002

Guns! Guns! Guns!

There is no doubt, for police officers, that things are getting more dangerous out there. Whether you are functioning as a member of a SWAT Team or conducting routine patrol duties, there are more assignments that you are responding to with firearms drawn. But, having your sidearm drawn or carrying a long gun doesn't mean that you will need to shoot - you just have to be ready to. Moving into a scene in close quarter situations bring forth special threats and require special tactics for Firearm Deployment to Quickly Stabilize Events.

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Threat Assessment becomes even more important when dealing with situations where a firearm is drawn and aimed at possible targets. Even if you have your firearm ready to fire, you can still lose the Gun Fight, if you aren't ready to react immediately to a lethal threat or to prevent an assailant from attempting to disarm you.

In training, we program our officers to WIN The FIGHT, I like to use the Predator Riddle illustrate this point. In short, I ask officers, "What a Victim expects to see when they turn a blind corner?" The answer is "Nothing, because life is good." Then I ask the same officers, "What does a Predator expects to see around the same blind corner?" I usually get the answer of "a Victim." I say "No, the answer is Lunch." Here I usually get several laughs but the point is made. An officer always has to be ready for that Predator that may be lurking around the corner. Remember, when you are ready and no one is there "it's a Good Day." But, when the Predator is there, the officer is ready to take immediate action and Win The Fight.

The best way to prepare for these split second deadly force decision making situations is to practice "When / Then" Thinking. This is a term that I learned from Bob "Coach" Lindsey, a nationally known Officer Survival Instructor. It replaces the old term known as "If / Then" Thinking. Coach Lindsey says that "If / Then" Thinking doesn't make the threat immediate enough, that somehow the threat is placed at a distance, in the future, and, if fact, may not happen at all. It places the officer in a state of unpreparedness. On the other hand, "When / Then" Thinking puts the threat right here, immediate, and certain. "When" the subject with the gun appears, "Then" I will be able to take immediate action without hesitation. Again, this doesn't mean that on high risk calls, I will always use / fire my firearm but I am always ready to do so.

In Tactical Operations, we need to develop our Firearm Deployment to Quickly Stabilize Events. In order to do this we need to analyze the type of responses we are likely to face. It is important to remember that during these events the officer is prepared to use deadly force and is armed with a handgun or long gun. Basically there are five (5) basic responses for a subject when faced with the sudden insertion of police officers into their environment.

These are:

    1. The subject complies and follows all verbal commands;
    2. The subject flees;
    3. The subject is non-responsive or slow to follow verbal commands;
    4. The subject resists or becomes assaultive;
    5. The subject's actions necessitates the use of deadly force.
Listed below each of these topics are discussed in detail with suggested officer responses given to these escalating levels of threat.

1. The subject complies and follows all verbal commands.

    Officer's Response: The officer should conduct the "Surrender Ritual" and order the subject down to the ground with his/her hands out to the side with his/her palms up. The subject then should be ordered not to move until told to do so by the officers involved. Handcuffs are then applied.
2. The subject flees.
    Officer's Response: Whether to follow the subject or not needs to be based on the officer's threat assessment, training, and tactics. The rationale for making this decision needs to be based on sound tactical thinking. The best explanation of the criteria for chasing a fleeing subject during a tactical operation came to me from John Meyer, Jr., the Vice President in charge of Training for the H&K International Training Division. First of all, he says that this decision is based on whether the subject is armed. Secondly, the decision to pursue is based on the Time versus Distance Concept that states that the closer a fleeing subject is to you, the greater chance that you will catch him before he can escape and/or get to hidden weapons. Thirdly, John Meyer says that a another factor is the nature of the terrain - don't run past or into an unknown area without considering the possibility of getting set up for an ambush. Remember that a quick snatch is preferable to a long drawn out chase through unknown territory whether that territory is outdoors or in a building.
3. The subject is non-responsive or slow to respond to verbal commands but is apparently stunned and takes on the attributes of a "deer in the headlights."
    Officer's Response: Practice Weapon (Disarming) Avoidance Tactics like the ones taught at the H&K International Training Division. If the officer decides to move in on a subject, rather than leave the firearm extended in a positions that "begs" the subject to try to disarm the officer, "transition" it to the reaction hand and side. This allows the officer to defend him/herself with strong side empty hand control tactics or take the subject to the ground. Officers usually prefer to respond with strong side techniques that are by their very nature stronger and better coordinated.

    This tactic includes:

    • Moving in towards the subject with officer's weapon aimed at the subject while issuing verbal commands for him/her to "Get Down on the Ground."
    • Transitioning the weapon to the reaction side while moving into a High Guard Position with the strong hand.
    • Hooking the subject's neck with the strong hand and bring the subject close into the officer's body.
    • Begin pushing the subject towards the ground while pivoting to increase the officer's power and to clear the subject out of the way so other team members can get by to engage other threats.
    • Continuing to direct the subject down to the ground while continuing verbal commands to "Down!"
    • Moving back into a defensive stance with the officer's weapon back on target and finishing the Stabilization Commands: "Stay Down! Put your hands out to your Sides! Palms Up! Don't Move."
    • Calling for an Arrest Team Officer to complete the handcuffing of the subject or the officer can complete the handcuffing him/herself while a backup officer covers the subject.
4. The subject resists and /or becomes assaultive;
    Officer's Response: When dealing with a resisting or assaultive subject, the officer needs to assess the officer / subject factors before approaching. Obviously the officer would not move in to take down "Godzilla's Big Brother by him/herself. One option is to perform an Active Countermeasure which is an empty hand striking technique.

    This tactic, if appropriate, can include:

    • Moving in towards the subject with the officer's weapon aimed at the subject while issuing verbal commands for him/her to "Get Down on the Ground."
    • Transitioning the weapon to the reaction side while moving into a High Guard. Position with the strong hand in the same way the officer did for the non-responsive subject.
    • The officer could then "load up" his/her strong side forearm for an forearm strike, perform a strong side knee strike or angle kick, or stun the subject into a nearby wall in order to establish control.
    • The officer would then hook up the subject, direct them to the ground, and stabilize them on the ground as previously described.
5. The subject actions necessitate the use of deadly force.
    Officer's Response: If the officer is placed in a life threaten position by the subject, as in the case of a subject trying to bring a firearm to bear on the officer, the officer could respond with deadly force utilizing his/her firearm. The officer would continue to cover with his/her weapons while issuing verbal commands until the subject can be handcuffed.
The importance of preparing for these high stress, life threatening situations cannot be over emphasized. Lt. Col. David Grossman, the author of the book "On Killing" probably says it best. In order to prepare for these types of experiences, the best recipe for success is for the officer is to:

1. Practice Combat Breathing - utilize slow deep rhythmic breathing before, during, and after stressful situations. An officer who practices Autogenic Breathing has the best chance of staying relatively calm in these oftentimes chaotic situations.

2. Receive a Stress Inoculation -- participate in high stress training sessions that help to reproduce the type stress that you will experience in real life events. An officer who participates in high stress training like is currently available with Simunition (R) FX Marking Cartridges and/or RedMan ® Weapon Defense Suit will become better inoculated to the stress involved in this type of situations and becomes acclimated to the stress associated with the high stress levels experienced during actual duty encounters. The officer gets "used to" these chaotic situations and tends to respond better. 3. Develop Conditioned Responses to the behaviors you are likely to experience in your duty environment. By practicing the tactics associated with the levels of resistance that a Tactical Operator will experience, the officer will build up a "conditioned response" that will translate from the training room to the duty environment. S/he will develop a motor memory for survival skills.

Officers who remain alert, utilize "When / Then" Thinking, and have been trained to respond to the different subject responses that they are likely to experience have the greatest likelihood of successfully dealing with the threats presented during a Tactical Operation. Perfect Practice leads to Perfect Performance.

Stay Strong! Stay Safe!

Gary T. Klugiewicz


Gary T. Klugiewicz is recognized as one of the nation’s leading defensive tactic trainers and the developer of the Active Countermeasures System of Unarmed Blocking and Striking Techniques. A recently retired as a captain with the Milwaukee County Sheriff’s Department, Gary has twenty-five years in law enforcement. He is the Director of Training for the Fox Valley Technical College RedMan® Training Division. Gary is also a consultant for many police and correctional agencies throughout the United States. In addition, he is a founding member of the PoliceOne.com Training Advisory Board

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