Friday, February 08, 2013

Shoot Out Update / Bad Week for LEOs

I spoke about a shoot-out in Forest Grove recently. An update, and a correction:

First, the officer who was arrested was not a Forest Grove LEO, but from Hillsboro PD. He lives in Forest Grove, and I mixed that up. He has since resigned, and is being held on umpty-dump charges of attempted murder and other felonies.

I was interested in the number of rounds fired, since the shooting involved eleven officers from at least three departments, and apparently all of the responders and the suspect cut loose, necessitating administrative leave for ten, and arrest for the eleventh.

The exact expended round count isn't in, but the estimates went from fifty to closer to a hundred, and maybe seventy rounds is a ballpark figure.

Seventy rounds, one shrapnel hit to a deputy's hand, and one minor wound to the suspect.

But: There's a good reason they weren't hitting each other. That's because they couldn't see each other. Apparently the arrested man, Timothy Cannon, started shooting through the walls and floors. That sparked return fire, also through the walls and floor.

Somebody must have missed the class on being sure of your target before you pull the trigger. The term is, I believe, "spray and pray."

Cannon's wife and child, who had locked themselves in a room to get away from him, weren't hit, but that wasn't because the team knew where they were and didn't shoot in that direction. It was pure luck.

Cannon, who was on several antidepressants, had been on a week-long drinking binge, and alcohol and downers don't really play well together. That explains a lot about his actions.

The ten LEOs riddling the house into a colander? I'm guessing that will spark some serious discussions at the cop shop. 

It hasn't been a good week for police around the country. The manhunt in Los Angeles for Christoper Dorner, the ex-cop who shot three LEOs and probably another couple, went south when officers with twitchy trigger fingers shot two women in Torrance delivering newspapers, apparently for the crime of driving a pick-up truck the same color as the suspect's. Non-fatally, but look for the lawsuit on that one.

There was a second shooting in Torrance at another not-the-right blue truck at a different location, but those officers didn't hit anybody, so maybe not being able to shoot straight is not always a bad thing.

I can understand being nervous when an ex-military, ex-LEO goes bonkers, offers a vendetta against police, and starts down that road. Last I heard, they'd found his burned-out truck near Big Bear, but hadn't tracked him down yet. Probably means that if you own a blue pickup in SoCal, it's okay for you to drive it again. 


Jim said...

A very relevant phrase is "sympathetic fire." The tendency to fire because others are firing...

Some of it's because it's what we do on the range. The targets turn, and we all shoot, then they turn back...

Part of it's just because we're human, and if my partner's shooting... well, I guess I gotta shoot, too!

Jim said...

By the way -- I'm not defending all aspects of this, just trying to explain it...

Don Hilliard said...

About 10 years ago, I recall, the New York Times ran a very interesting piece on the surprisingly high number of NYPD street cops who were still - deliberately - carrying the .38 Special revolvers they'd been issued in the mid-80s before NYPD shifted to semi-autos.

On the one hand, it was definitely 'old-school' cred; packing a .38 meant you'd been around the block more than a few times. But on the other, almost every officer of that group they interviewed said basically the same thing: "If you need more than six rounds, you'd better be behind the car, you or your partner better have the shotgun out, and you better have called for backup...or SWAT."

I couldn't help but contrast this with a contemporary report in the San Francisco Chronicle of a half-dozen SFPD cops firing some 60 rounds at a druggie armed with a 3" knife on a 3' chain, thoroughly blowing him away and putting one of their own in hospital with a bullet in the ass.

Steve Perry said...

When Death steps up, things go wonky. People miss somebody at spitting distance, they freeze, all manner of things can and do happen. But if you are in the business of dealing with Death, you should be getting the best training possible.

We know a lot about it, we know there are ways to deal with the hormone storms, and every cop who wears a badge should have access to the best training there is when the guns and knives come out.

Truth is, they don't. The ones who get the most usually do it on their own -- they go find classes in shooting or fighting and hope those will give them what they need. Sometimes they will, sometimes they won't.

Maybe all those hours in the action bays won't serve, but maybe they will be better than a yearly qualification on the bullseye range. Because there are officers who pull and shoot and hit what they aim at and who come home alive.

No guarantees, of course, but surely there are disciplines that shade the odds in your favor if you have to commence firing while ducking incoming.

I don't know the current numbers, but it used to be that half the guys in the infantry wouldn't shoot during a firefight. Which means that half of them did. Maybe we can figure out why the ones who shot did and pass that along.

Jim said...

As a rule... Training sucks. Especially in-service.

Range time is typically variations of target plinking, with little practical or tactical application -- and the main emphasis on getting the necessary qualifications in, and getting people out without costing too much in man-hours, or bullets. Especially as ammo costs rise. And that's for departments with their own ranges...

DT training? Rare. Too easy for someone to get hurt if it's done right, and that means workman's comp, light duty time, etc. And the civilians wondering what the cops are doing to get hurt in "training"...

And that's before you even get into the common in-service mindset of "why do I need to do this..." or "that ain't cool enough..." (Or... "I'll look silly in front of guys with less time on than me...", not that most will admit that one...)

There's no easy answer, and it takes a lot of work and support, combined with buy in a many levels to change it.