The best Active Self Protection involves knowing what to fight for, how to do it best, and when the right time to fight is. This police officer unfortunately didn’t have that ability, and it cost him dearly. How would you have handled it?
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Original video of this police officer is available in our Instructor Development Portal.
News story on the police-involved shooting from local sources, with some details: https://get-asp.com/vjca
What does this police officer teach us about defending ourselves against an armed robber?
- Your mobile phone is a useful tool but a dangerous one. It can be used to communicate, to get emergency help to you, and to avoid problems altogether in numerous ways. It can also be a very dangerous distraction, because it is designed purposefully to grasp our undivided attention and hold it. When in public, use your mobile sparingly and correctly. Don’t allow it to hold your attention for more than 20-30 seconds at a time, and hold it high so that your head is up and you can see past it to what is going on around you. Use a single earbud if you are listening to music so that you can hear your surroundings as well. Yes, that’s a pain for those who are using their phone for entertainment, but in public you have to consider your surroundings! This police officer was targeted because of his cell phone, which is tragic. Recognize that your cell phone is an enticing target to a criminal!
- In any territorial or predatorial violence, the attacker gets to set the time and circumstances of the attack. They will almost always launch that attack from ambush, or as we like to call it in Umas, from “obscurity.” Surviving that ambush is one of the most important keys to successfully defending yourself. The police officer had no virtually no warning before the gun was screwed into his neck, which put him at a SEVERE disadvantage. That’s what armed robbers do, of course, but this police officer might have avoided it if he was aware.
- We must each decide what is worth protecting. Life is always worth protecting because it is of inestimable worth; as unique bearers of the image of God, people are the most valuable “thing” imaginable. Property is something else, though. With property we always have to balance the benefit against the risk to ourselves and our families. Even where it’s legally allowed, you should consider whether it’s wise or prudent to defend your property, because doing so puts you at risk and not just the bad guy. Here the police officer was clearly at risk of his life, and so he had every right to defend himself. That said, the right answer might have been to just give up the phone without any struggle and see if that ends the conflict. It certainly couldn’t have ended worse for the police officer!
- Compliance does not at all guarantee your safety in the face of an armed robber or other attacker. We know, for instance, that rape victims who fight back are no more likely to be harmed than if they don’t fight back, and they are less likely to be raped. (study here: https://get-asp.com/601c if you need proof on that) Compliance does not guarantee safety, as placing your safety in the hands of someone willing to commit a felony is a terrible idea. The police officer here didn’t really comply, but even though the armed robber had the phone he wanted, he shot the officer anyway. Compliance or “just give them what they want” doesn’t always work.
- In a deadly force encounter, decisions of life and death will be made in the blink of an eye. On the range and in class we have time to consider and to think and to reset and to make multiple attempts, but when the balloon goes up in real life you’ve got fractions of seconds to decide what the best course of action is to protect yourself. The way to be better at decision making in the heat of the moment is training, specifically scenario training and force-on-force training that is designed to work on decision-making skills under stress. It’s offered all over the country, so get training! The police officer here didn’t have time to make a significant plan…he just had to go.
- First aid skills are important. If you’re going to train and prepare to take a life to defend yourself, you should also have skills, training, and equipment to save life should you need to. (I carry an individual first aid kit at a minimum: http://amzn.to/1Or4yVz ) Often that will not involve defensive encounters, and in a defensive encounter your primary responsibility is to yourself and your loved ones. The police officer here needed immediate first aid and immediate transport to have any hope of living.
Attitude. Skills. Plan.
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