distance decreases, danger increases

Tip provided compliments of IALEFI

Officers must continually be reminded that their proximity to the bad guy is paramount to their survival. Too frequently officers let their guard down when making the “final approach” to handcuff and search the suspect when that is the time they need to be most alert in a confrontation. It is as if a giant magnet is drawing the officer closer to the suspect so he can consummate the arrest.

As distance decreases, danger increases and your tactical options diminish proportionately.

If a suspect produces a firearm and there is considerable distance between the officer and the suspect, the officer might choose to draw his/her weapon, seek cover if it is available, issue verbal commands from behind cover and/or engage the suspect with gunfire if applicable.

If the same situation arises and the suspect is inside the officers "reactionary gap"--which is the minimum amount of space needed to ensure that you can properly react to whatever threat may be presented by a suspect--the officer might have to engage the suspect physically in an attempt to control the suspects hands and/or the weapon instead of even attempting to draw his/her weapon.

The difference in the two situations is reaction time and distance.

Maintain distance, evaluate the threat, then initiate your tactical response!

About the author

Mike Williams is the Assistant Chief of the Chattanooga TN police department and a 33 year law enforcement veteran. He was a SWAT officer for more than 25 years and teaches Tactical Team Commanders Courses for Team One Network  Asst. Chief Williams is a member of the IALEFI Board of Directors ( ) and is chairman of the editorial committee. He also produces the daily Police Related News electronic newsletter which goes out to over 2,000 police officers in the US, Canada, Australia and South Africa on a daily basis and the weekly IALEFI newsletter.

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