Avoid These 10 Range Habits That Can Get LE Officers Killed

Maintain your level of proficiency through regular practice. (Photo/Tyson Kilbey)


By Duane Wolfe for Police1.com

What you do consistently will become your habit. The range is a long way from a gunfight, and all too often officers adopt range behaviors that can lead to serious injury or worse. Here are 10 quick tips to improve your abilities in a gunfight and correct a few bad behaviors I have seen in my time on the range.


In order to draw or reload faster, some officers will release one or more of their retention devices to speed up their draw. The Force Science Institute has determined that if you undo a snap it slows you down because you are programmed to follow a certain sequence. When you change that sequence your brain gets confused and works slower. Train the way you fight because you will fight the way you train. If you train with one device deactivated when the fight comes and that device is in place you will be fighting with the holster, rather than with the suspect(s).


All too often shooters are so concerned about putting one bullet on top of the other that they never push themselves to shoot fast enough for a gunfight. A score is nice as a gauge of progress to meet a qualification standard, but qualification and a gunfight are two different worlds.


Disregard the scoring rings, as many of them bear no resemblance to the human body. Work on placing the majority of your rounds in an area about four inches wide from the base of the throat down to the bottom of the sternum. The heart and all of the arteries and veins leading to and from it are concentrated in that area. That is the area you want to hit to stop a suspect quickly. More than likely your target doesn’t have the 10 ring in that area. I have seen targets with the “X” down in the stomach – bad practice, bad training, expect a bad outcome.


Most qualification times are very generous. In a gunfight, officers fire around five rounds per second. If you haven’t trained to shoot and hit at that rate of fire in practice, don’t expect a visit from the ballistic fairy to guide your rounds in a gunfight. Realistic training must include realistic rates of fire.


When your gun goes dry, reload fast every time like your life depends on it (because it does). If you ever find yourself standing with an empty gun and counting the holes in your target, kick yourself. The bad guy probably won’t be showing any bullet holes. If your gun is empty, ammo is your priority.


I’ve lost track of the number of times I have seen shooters freeze up or quit a course of fire when a gun malfunctioned or they fumbled a draw or reload. There are no alibis in a gunfight. Fix the problem and finish the fight even if things don’t go perfectly. There is no such thing as a perfect fight, so train to win regardless of the obstacles that you face. Fine motor skills can deteriorate under stress, prepare for it in your training.


If you always stay in your comfort zone, then you are not training for a fight. A gunfight will be very uncomfortable. You can’t predict the time, the date, location or opponent(s). Push yourself out of your comfort level on the speed of your presentation and your firing rate. Once you find your failure point (the majority of your rounds start going outside the high chest area), slow down, identify the problem and work on fixing it as you continue to speed up.


Practice side stepping on your draw to teach you to get off the line of attack. If you don’t have cover, side step on your reloads. Practice shooting moving sideways, forward and back. If the range you normally practice at won’t allow it, find a different range to train on.


The use of cover or concealment will increase your likelihood of surviving a gunfight. As you approach the site of a call, are you identifying your available cover and concealment? A pre-planned response will be faster than having to do an environmental survey before seeking cover when bullets start to fly. Use cover so that the least amount of you sticks out while you locate and shoot at your threat. Practice using cover at all of the levels: standing, crouching, kneeling and prone. A vertical line of cover is better than a horizontal line of cover because less of your head is exposed. In a gunfight you get what you get, make the most of it.


A range is usually a 180-degree world and, as a result, a lot of training is done using only half of the world. Threats and bullets can come from any direction once you step outside the range. Once you finished shooting, check the world around you before you put your gun away. Draw quickly, holster reluctantly. All too often a scan turns into a fast head whip in all directions. Understand that when you move your head quickly from side to side your vision actually shuts off. When you scan, look carefully for any additional threats. In practice have someone stand and hold up their fingers to show a number between one and five. That way you are always looking with the intent of seeing your environment.

Ammo is cheap, lives are expensive. Maintain your level of proficiency by regular practice.

This article, originally published 11/09/2016, has been updated. 


In February 2014, Duane Wolfe retired from his career as a Minnesota Peace Officer after more than 25 years of service (beginning in 1988). During his career, he served as a patrolman, sergeant, S.R.T., use of force and firearms instructor. He is also a full-time instructor in the Law Enforcement Program at Alexandria Technical and Community College, Alexandria, Minnesota. Duane has a Bachelor of Science Degree in Criminal Justice from Bemidji State University and a Masters Degree in Education from Southwest State University.

Make Training Fun (Again)

By Lt. Frank Borelli (ret) for Officer.com

Do you remember when you went through the academy? A lot of the training, while very intense, was also a lot of fun. Why was that? Because it was new; it was competitive (to some extent); it was something you wanted to excel at and “be the best.” Veteran instructors, as they develop mandatory training, need to keep such concepts in mind. If the training can be formatted and delivered in anything resembling an entertaining fashion, with the feeling of it being new and—most especially—if it can be formatted to be competitive, the training will almost always be more enjoyable.

Making it entertaining

Entertainment is all in the presentation. Now, don’t misunderstand, law enforcement training is serious business and many instructors might argue that there should be nothing entertaining about it. It should be delivered and received with as much seriousness as the skills and knowledge taught will impart when used. That’s a given; however, if the instructor in a given program is acting like the learning is a death sentence, then no one wants to be there. The outlook and attitude of the instructor during the course presentation largely sets the tone for how it will be received. Too many student officers come into the training grumbling because they have to be there and there’s always someplace they would rather be—even if it’s working the street.

From the very opening moment when the instructor introduces him/herself and begins the presentation—which usually opens with the administrative stuff of “how long, will or won’t be a test, here’s where the bathrooms are, and this is when we should be done”—the tone is set. Jokes may not have a place in many training programs, but a cheerful happy approach to being there can change how the next few hours go.

Almost all training is given for one (or more) of three reasons:

  1. skills maintenance
  2. policy change, or…
  3. case decisions.

All three can be dry and boring because…

  1. It’s tedious and repetitive
  2. It’s boring but mandatory
  3. It’s perceived as inevitably restricting how we do our jobs.

The job facing an instructor is to remove the tedium; craft it as interesting and explain how it’s going to make doing the job easier.

Now, we freely admit, the last one may take a bit of…creativity. Quite often, especially of late, new policies being handed down, whether ultimately from a governing body (city council, county council, state legislature) or from the agency commander (chief or sheriff) seem unnecessarily restrictive. Many officers (our editorial director included) look back and think: “We’ve done this job this way for decades without complaint. Why now?” These new policies often add a new task or control on how we do a different task.

The goal of the instructor is to show how this new additional piece will ultimately benefit the officers and further assist in convicting the offender. Consider body worn cameras as the example. When they first hit the market and were pushed hard “to protect the civil rights of suspects,” law enforcement moaned. Another thing to wear. Another camera monitoring our every movement and word. But, years later, body worn cameras have proven to be excellent tools for evidence collection and have served to increase conviction rates—so much so that some civil rights organizations now claim they are an infringement of personal privacy. As an instructor, figure out what your “spin” is going to be and build the course accordingly.

Making it fun

Hands down, the most boring class you can teach is report writing. Inevitably we make it so and undo our own efforts to some extent. Yes, the part about filling in blocks and picking the correct identifier from a pull down menu is tedious and can be boring. That recognized, how often does the sergeant have to correct something from a pull down menu? More often than not, the bigger challenge is the narrative section. Too many officers today have a challenge with writing in general; any type of creative writing, descriptive text, tense, conjugation and more.

But improving writing skills in general doesn’t have to be boring. It’s about the skills, not the text. Making a report writing class more fun, as the example, could be as simple as giving the student officers a writing assignment such as, “Give me 500 words describing your dream car and why it is.” It’s a topic many of them will enjoy. “Write me a 500 word description of the coolest house you’ve ever been in.” “Write me 500 words about the best vacation you’ve ever had.” What you want to correct isn’t the topic; it’s the way the writing is produced.

Most other topics can be managed the same way to some extent. Every instructor has enough time on the street to have anecdotal stories that can be shared about something related. Make it appropriate. Tell the story as if someone from the command staff was sitting in your class and someone from HR was sitting next to them. Entertain…don’t just instruct.

Making it competitive

This is actually the easiest one. All you need is a prize. It can be something tangible like a new equipment organizer for a patrol vehicle seat, or a flashlight the agency has a spare of. It can be something less tangible like a half day off or attendance at some highly desired training program. The point is that if there is something for the students to compete to receive, then they are more motivated to do well in the program.

Obviously this is something that might need to be worked out with the command staff. Depending on the size of your agency, that might mean approval from a sergeant or lieutenant. If the agency is smaller, it might mean getting the chief to agree. Whatever it is, get it in writing and create a gift certificate good for it. At the end of the class, you want “the winner” to be handed something tangible, even if the prize won isn’t. “This gift certificate is good for four hours of paid leave, without reduction in the officer’s leave balance, upon prior approval of the time by the officer’s supervisor.”

Whoever gets the highest score on the test, wins. If there’s a tie, be prepared to hold some type of tie-breaker. If it’s defensive tactics or a firearms qualification day, set up a competitive course for score-vs-time and let those in attendance compete (with due consideration for safety). Give away a hat, a pair of gloves, or a gift card from the local favorite eatery (that the eatery management is usually happy to donate).

If you can manage to catch the attendees’ attention at the beginning of the course, entertain them throughout and give them something to win at the end, the training won’t be just another tedious boring class they are forced to attend. And a happy side effect of that will be your improved appreciation as an instructor. Instead of student officers dreading having to attend your courses, they’ll look forward to it. As that outlook compounds, the job gets even easier.  

Free Drone Pilot Training for First Responders Nationwide

Police officers and firefighters will learn how to fly drones like the Spartacus Max in Aquiline Drones’ Flight to the Future online program. The Connecticut-based company is offering tuition-free enrollment to first responders from now until the end of the year. Photo Courtesy of Aquiline Drones.

Story from Officer.com

From raging wildfires out West to devastating building collapses in the East, police and firefighters constantly rise to the challenge of keeping Americans safe. Now, Aquiline Drones (AD), a commercial drone manufacturing and cloud technology company in Connecticut, is returning the favor. Specifically, AD is offering free drone pilot training in the company’s Flight to the Future (F2F) program to all police officers and firefighters nationwide from now until the end of the year. Several police and firefighting squads in the state have already enrolled in the proprietary program, which costs $1,299 for other participants.

“We originally created Flight to the Future as a way to provide new high-tech skills in a burgeoning industry to unemployed workers during the pandemic to fulfill everyday services such as asset inspection, videography, smart farming and land surveying and mapping,” said Barry Alexander, Founder and CEO of Aquiline Drones. “But using drones to help better society and save human lives was the impetus in creating our company and we’re excited to do our part in arming those in the line of duty with crucial training to keep them safe and secure.”

The interactive online course teaches police and fire professionals how to safely and effectively utilize drone technology in their daily missions. The educational content is available on-demand at any time, so participants can take the course at their own convenience. Besides earning their FAA Part 107 commercial drone pilot certification, F2F program participants will also learn about cloud computing, AI, the Internet of Things (IoT) and other technologies transforming the unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) industry.

Interested parties may apply for free enroll by sending an email with full contact information to: info@AquilineDrones.com. For a detailed summary of the curriculum, please visit:


Alexander notes that drones have long been thought of as eyes in the sky to assess emergency situations, including search and rescue, crime scene analysis, mapping, active shooter investigations, event monitoring, and accident reconstruction from their portrayal on TV and film.  More detailed, real-world applications for police and firefighter officers include:

  • Emergency Response – When seconds count, drones can be sent ahead of the first responders to assess the situation on the ground, give responders a critical heads-up and also be used to deliver lifesaving supplies and equipment to victims that are not readily reachable by a human in time.
  • Law enforcement – When emergency calls are received that involve criminal activities, drones can be deployed ahead of police arrival to provide first-person viewing (FPV) and real time situational awareness, thus capturing crimes in action, providing first responders with live footage of the scene and even recording footage/images of criminals that may have left the scene prior to the arrival of the authorities. This has the powerful potential of reducing law enforcement costs from pursuing criminals through prolonged investigations, improving conviction rates, reducing wrongful arrests and convictions, and ultimately saving taxpayer dollars on processing arrestees and court cases. In this context, drones can be outfitted with audible devices i.e., sirens and flashing blue and red lights indicating the arrival of law enforcement on the scene, thereby serving as deterrents to crimes or escalations, while improving response rates for cities. Subsequently, police authorities will be safer on the job and more effective at solving or fighting crimes that truly necessitate their involvement.

“We envision a world in which humans and drones live and operate in harmony, using their real-time control, autonomy and analytics to enhance safety, increase efficiency and prevent unnecessary deaths,” adds Alexander. “It is our corporate responsibility to ensure that all first responders partake in this essential training to become the best drone operators in the world.”

About Aquiline Drones

Aquiline Drones is the leading American drone company founded by highly experienced aviators, systems engineers, and IT gurus. With a customer-centric model, US-based manufacturing, and world-class MRO services, the company offers innovative ways of using drones in commercial activities. Supported by a dedicated UAV cloud, autonomous drone operations with real-time control, and dynamic on-field decision-making capabilities, Aquiline Drones’ full-spectrum of technological solutions provide increased applicability across countless industries and environments by delivering real-time data insights. Aerospace-compliant processes for software, hardware manufacturing, and systems integration, along with best-in-class mission capabilities, are being planned and designed. The company continues to forge relationships with federal, state, and private organizations, developing and collaboratively launching new drone applications. Visit www.AquilineDrones.com for more information and follow all exciting company news and updates on AD’s social platforms.

All Squared Away: A Blueprint for Success in Policing

We know a “squared away” cop when we see them. They are often recognized as those go-to guys and gals that we like to have on calls. (Getty Images)

By Chief Tom Wetzel for Police1

The current challenges American police officers face must be remedied. Lives are at stake – both the cops and those they serve.

As a strong advocate of community policing, I believe it will take a collective effort between officers and their communities to develop solutions that will help build our service model. But it must be the police themselves who provide the critical leadership and creative ideas for best improving our time-honored profession.

As a police trainer with the Northcoast Polytechnic Institute, I have the privilege of teaching police officers about management and leadership. There I have met some fine and deeply committed public servants who want to make a difference in the communities they serve. They are smart, caring individuals who are willing to risk their lives for strangers and their creative juices are flowing.

This was well evidenced this year when I was teaching a first-line supervision course and I made a reference to “squared away” cops. This is a common term, but it’s hard to define. We know a “squared away” cop when we see them. They are often recognized as those go-to guys and gals that we like to have on calls.

After the class, I had the opportunity to talk with a young sergeant named Randall Neitzel. He had thought long and hard about the “squared away” phrase and had developed a four-square model of what the concept should mean for cops.

The Neitzel “Squared Away” Developmental Concept is both a theoretical and visual training tool that builds off four fundamental blocks: knowledge, accountability, ability and work ethic. A “squared away” cop will have all four working seamlessly:

Neitzel “Squared Away” Developmental Concept
Neitzel “Squared Away” Developmental Concept

The knowledge block addresses education, training, experience and learning from our mistakes; accountability focuses on ethics, our oath of office and doing the right thing when no one is watching; the ability portion involves judgment, decision-making, adapting to change and personal growth; and the work ethic quadrant highlights the desire to go the extra mile and improve on personal shortcoming.

These blocks can be rearranged to fit any coaching or development of an officer's needs. This model helps individuals visually understand what needs to be developed. 
These blocks can be rearranged to fit any coaching or development of an officer’s needs. This model helps individuals visually understand what needs to be developed. 

The beauty of this model is that it gives police supervisors a conceptual tool for coaching officers. It can help guide leaders in their efforts to help officers achieve a “squared away” status.

It also is a useful visual reference for officers who want to develop the best version of themselves but who might need to put extra work into certain quadrants. In short, the Neitzel concept provides a simple, workable blueprint for a successful career in law enforcement.

What Sgt. Neitzel contemplated and then distilled into an actionable tool impressed me. It reinforced my confidence that the American police model is only going to get better because of cops like this young sergeant. We have an entire upcoming group of deep-thinking cops who are going to pave the way for building and improving on our service model. They are going to be the critical leadership that our profession needs right now to produce better, more responsive, and empathetic public servant guardians who will usher in a new era of protecting and serving. It could not have come at a better time.      

Training day: Documentary Provides Perspective on Police Mental Health Response

Law enforcement agencies can stream “Ernie and Joe: Crisis Cops” for free through May 2022 to better prepare cops to respond to people in crisis.

By Joel Shults for Police1.com

Ernie and Joe: Crisis Cops” is a 95-minute HBO documentary about two members of the San Antonio Police Department’s Mental Health Unit (MHU). The film explores the experiences of these two Texas police officers who use de-escalation techniques to resolve mental health calls. The film aims to spark dialogue about the culture of policing and better prepare cops to respond to people in crisis, according to the documentary’s filmmakers

Police agencies may register for unlimited free streaming access to the documentary. A 25-minute version is also available. Register here using code EJCC-POLICE1. Suggested questions for your shift, squad or department to discuss after viewing the documentary are listed at the end of this article.

Viewers will see actual encounters between Ernie Stevens and Joe Smarro with persons in distress. All the narrative of the video is done by the partners. Ernie is the most senior officer and a charter member of the unit. Joe is the younger. Although the unit has grown in numbers, it is clear from the in-car computer that the list of mental health-related requests rolls along in the list of pending calls. Their numbers are too high for the specialized unit to respond to all of them, validating the growing narrative of mental health issues growing beyond law enforcement’s capacity to handle them. The special unit is only able to handle far fewer than even 10% of the crisis calls that come in.

As the list of pending calls shows the label of mental health on the roster, the narration explains that “mental health” was not even a call category with dispatch until the formation of the MHU. Categories of disturbance, suicidal subject, family disputes, or other labels covered the event.


Ernie and Joe are shown conducting training with both law enforcement and other professionals who encounter persons in mental health crisis. Using guest speakers who deal with mental health issues, the crisis cops help others understand the role of the MHU, as well as provide insight on working with persons in crisis toward a peaceful conclusion of a contact. MHU officers also do follow-up contacts to help ensure that their subjects’ referrals and available services are being accessed. Not all long-term hopes for those they intercede with are met, but the success stories are motivational.

Ernie and Joe acknowledge that there is skepticism among police officers for their philosophy of interacting with disturbed persons. They work in plain clothes in an unmarked car, although they are clear about identifying themselves as police officers. Officers watching the film will shudder as they see traditional officer safety tactics set aside. Although in one scenario where a weapon was reported to be possibly involved, they call for uniform back up, don their ballistic vests and expose their sidearms, their approach and demeanor to those they are hoping to help is intentionally not an attitude of aggression.


The documentary provides some insight into the lives of Joe, an Iraq combat veteran with a PTSD diagnosis, and Ernie, the father of a teenager.

Both officers work overtime in uniformed assignments in addition to their full-time assignment to MHU. Joe is portrayed as going through a divorce, using painting to deal with the stresses of life and the job. Ernie seems more content as he enjoys his work, working to continue his education with an eye toward retirement and a new career as a teacher.

The importance of these personal insights is that it shows that developing skills for dealing with persons in distress does not require perfection in one’s own life.


The team notes that officers traditionally had 60 hours of firearms training in the academy with just an eight-hour block on crisis intervention. By the time of the filming of the documentary that training has been increased to 40 hours, much of which is taught by MHU members. They hope that the insights into mental health crises can be applied to reducing police suicides and increasing peer support within the agency.


They emphasize that time is an essential component of peaceful outcomes – “as long as it takes” – even while calls are stacked up. After all, other officers stay out of service for as long as it takes to work a crash or book a suspect. Knowing when to allow a subject some control and responsibility for their decisions rather than using persuasion rather than coercion, allowing appropriate and meaningful presence and physical contact, being honest about one’s own fear and concerns, and allowing the officer most comfortable with the situation to take the lead are all demonstrated in the movie.


Whether the short or long version is part of a training day, the documentary is a worthy springboard for discussion, reframing, critique and a new perspective on dealing with mental health crisis calls. As the national conversation on mental health and law enforcement’s role in responding to crises continues, no police agency can escape taking some action to report to their constituents how they are dealing with these issues. This viewing may be a great first step.

After watching “Ernie and Joe: Crisis Cops,” use the following questions to start a discussion about the documentary and police mental health response:

  • How do responders address officer safety tactics in the context of establishing trust in close contact with a subject?
  • It is not unusual for persons encountering the police to have extreme emotional responses. What are some signs of a person having a mental health crisis along with the stress of a police encounter?
  • How does the pressure of calls pending affect devoting time to effective intervention in a mental health crisis?
  • How can you use your personal experiences to help you relate to persons in crisis?
  • What might be your long-term process in dealing with a failed suicide intervention?
  • Many special assignments are on a rotational basis to balance experience with getting a break from the unique stresses of undercover work, working child abuse cases, or working in a mental health unit? What are the pros and cons of rotating assignments?
  • What strategies did you see the officers in the film using to keep their personal lives and mental health in balance?
  • What efforts can agencies engage in to help officers maintain resilience and recovery from trauma?
  • How confident are you that most of your colleagues are highly competent in dealing with mental health crises?
  • The environment of police-citizen encounters is very important. In what ways can an officer control the environment?
  • How important is being in plain clothes for mental health response units? What is the role of uniformed backup for these officers?

Click here to register your agency to stream “Ernie and Joe: Crisis Cops” for free unlimited streaming through May 2022 using code EJCC-POLICE1.

Also watch Joe Smarro’s TEDxSan Antonio’s talk “I See You” on officer mental wellness:


Force Science Institute Research: Speed and Movements Associated With Armed Assaults

Synchronizing data with high-speed video programs provides a better understanding of the nature of pre-assault, assault and post-assault dynamics.

The Force Science Institute has completed three new studies on the speed and movements associated with armed assaults.

“The goal of our research was to obtain highly accurate measurements to further explore the findings of our earlier studies,” said Dr. Bill Lewinski. “Where we once measured movement speeds in the hundredths of a second, we are now able to measure those speeds to the thousandths of a second using accelerometers, gyroscopes and motion sensors. By synchronizing this data with high-speed video programs, we have a better understanding of the nature of pre-assault, assault and post-assault dynamics.

“These three studies not only validated our earlier research, but they also provided new data that may prove critical in use-of-force investigations and litigation,” Lewinski added.


Readers familiar with Force Science research know how quickly armed suspects can turn and shoot while running. When considered with Force Science reaction studies, this early research provided ground-breaking insights into the dynamics of deadly force encounters, shot placement, and wound analysis.

In one of their recent studies, Force Science researchers, in collaboration with a University in Utah, examined two shooting scenarios during which inexperienced shooters discharged a weapon while running.

The subjects used in the study represented the age and fitness level of typical offenders. Of particular interest to the researchers was the speed of the assault and the time it would take for the shooter’s back to be presented to the target after firing the shot.

“The shooting and turning times were fast. Whether they were shooting over their opposite arm or under, these inexperienced shooters were discharging their weapon faster than humans could reasonably be expected to see the threat and respond much faster,” Lewinski said.

“In our previous studies, we observed that it took research subjects about half a second to identify and process a threat and another 1.5 to 2 seconds or longer to unholster their gun and return fire. This can mean, by the time someone can return fire – assuming they can return fire at all – the original shooter may be running at a full sprint with their back square to the person they just shot at. These observations can prove critical in the investigation of civilian self-defense cases, law enforcement use of force, or military engagements.

“We are looking forward to publishing the full details of these studies, but for now, we can share that we observed physical movements – like the raising of the opposite arm to facilitate underarm shootings – that consistently preceded the assailant’s shot. If potential victims are able to perceive them, these movements may provide enough of a warning to allow them to maneuver away from the impending shot.”


In the second study, researchers using the new high-tech wearable motion sensors replicated three shooting scenarios previously studied by Force Science.

The first scenario involved “drivers” pulling a gun that had been concealed beside their right leg and then quickly pointing and shooting at a target on their left (simulating the driver’s side window).

The next scenario involved those same drivers pulling the concealed gun from beside their leg, then quickly pointing and shooting at a target on the right (simulating the passenger’s side window).

In the final scenario, subjects stood facing a target with their hand resting by their side. From there, the subject quickly drew a pistol from their waistband, pointed, and fired at the target.

“We knew the shooting times would be fast, but we were surprised by how consistent inexperienced shooters were able to perform these scenarios,” Lewinski said. “We noted that the average time of the passenger-side shooting was slower than the driver’s side shooting. For police operations, this validated our previous recommendation that passenger-side approaches should continue to be tactical options for officers.”

Lewinski was quick to point out that, “Regardless of which side the assailant shot at the target, the shootings were still taking place around half a second. We saw in our previous research that responding subjects took an average of nearly two seconds before reacting, drawing, and returning fire. We can’t emphasize enough that targets of armed assaults are not going to outdraw people who initiate the attack. Whether they are civilian, military, or law enforcement, the priority should be on tactics that avoid or mitigate the attacker’s ability or opportunity to carry out the assault.”


In the third study conducted by the Force Science Institute, researchers examined three assailant-initiated shooting actions.

“We wanted to take advantage of technological advances to update the methodology and analysis from our previous turn and shoot study, ” said Lewinski. “We know suspects frequently turn and run after firing at victims. The speed of those turning movements affects where bullets from responsive fire can be expected to impact the suspect. In this study, we looked at how fast a person with a concealed gun already in their hand could point, fire, turn, and run.

“First we looked at a 90-degree turn, then a 180-degree turn, and finally, a strong-side turn. The strong-side turn began with the suspect facing away from the officer, gun in hand, concealed in front of them. The research subject initiated the assault by beginning to run and then rapidly turning a full 180 degrees, like a buttonhook in football. The subject then rapidly shot the target, turned back, and continued running.

“As expected, all three ‘time-to-shoot’ motions were much faster than a person could react to the shooting, draw, and fire their own gun. After discharging their weapon, the subjects were able to turn their backs toward the target in under 1 second, regardless of their starting position or shooting motion.

“In less than 1/3 of a second, the back of the subject’s head would be directed at their original target. What the advanced technology allowed us to observe was that each of the suspects actually over-rotated their head at least 30 degrees in every turn. This was a previously unobserved behavior that can have important implications for bullet strike analysis during use of force investigations.”

Force Science is excited to share these important research findings and will notify readers when the final publications are available.

Community Policing Development (CPD) De-Escalation Training Solicitation

The Office of Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS Office) would like to remind you that the Community Policing Development (CPD) De-Escalation Training Solicitation is open and accepting applications. The two subcategories include:

  • The De-Escalation Regional Training Centers subcategory is designed to support the creation and delivery of national level de-escalation training efforts. Applicant eligibility is limited to institutions of higher education.
  • The De-Escalation State, Local, and Tribal Law Enforcement Agency Grants subcategory supports state and local law enforcement agencies’ efforts to build and maintain their officers’ de-escalation proficiency. Applicant eligibility is limited to state, local, tribal, and territorial law enforcement agencies.

This is a two-step application process with the Grants.gov application deadline on Wednesday, July 21 at 7:59 p.m. EDT and the JustGrants application deadline on Thursday, July 22 at 7:59 p.m. EDT. For more information, please visit https://cops.usdoj.gov/de-escalation.

We encourage you to widely disseminate this solicitation information with your network, particularly among institutions of higher education.

Effective Police Reform Means More LE Officers, Training and Equipment

Real reform looks like more funding for more positions, and more funding for more training. The Missouri Sheriffs’ Association regularly holds training conferences and offers regional training opportunities to better equip Missouri’s sheriffs, deputies, jail administrators and staff..

By Kathleen Dias, Policing the Remote and Rural for Police1

Police reform is in the air, in the news and on the Senate floor. Let’s define that phrase, and do real reform before “reform” gets done to us.

There’s nothing to lose. Doing things the way we are is leading to increasing crime rates and decreasing recruitment rates while hemorrhaging institutional knowledge as officers leave the profession in droves.

Current reform initiatives are ugly, expensive and do not work. I’ll tell you what real reform looks like. Then, let’s get it done.

Real reform looks like more funding for more positions, and more funding for more training – for every officer, everywhere, not just those fortunate enough to work for big, rich departments in cities with large tax bases. More officers means lower crime rates and emptier prisons, and that’s what everyone says they want. So let’s do it.

More officers means better coverage. It means officers can leave for training, take classes, vacations or sick days, work out, stay fit, take a BJJ class, or sleep more than four hours.

Tired cops with shoddy training make bad decisions and develop short tempers, because who doesn’t?


More training means more confident officers and fewer lawsuits. It means officers who aren’t functioning under pressure for the first time on the streets. It means officers with a chance to distinguish between someone with autism and someone with an attitude. It means officers who have used their sidearms and rifles and shotguns in low light, in a crowd, from a vehicle and from the ground, building muscle memory before they’re taking fire. It means officers who can seal a sucking chest wound while they wait for dust off during a standoff. It means a coherent answer in the courtroom when a lawyer says, “Show me your training records.”

Real reform means no green officers patrolling alone before attending an academy, ever again, no matter what. It means this is the 21st century, and policing is a profession.


Real reform looks like officers wearing vests that fit, not vests that are hand-me-downs from two hires back and two sizes too big or too small, or that don’t accommodate inconvenient breasts. It means rifle plates that protect officers against current threats.

Real reform looks like fewer back injuries with load-bearing external vests when managers and selectmen decide an officer’s health carries more weight than optics.

It looks like IFAKs and tac med training, no matter where the officer works and without having to beg. It looks like an officer who doesn’t bleed out from a leg wound because a county supervisor balked at spending $40 on a tourniquet.

Real reform looks like patrol cars with good tires and good brakes no matter how small the department or large the patrol area. It looks like radios that work, repeaters that repeat, and dispatchers who get time to eat and pee, so they can keep track of their officers’ locations and situations without the distraction of empty bellies and full bladders.

Real reform means extending OSHA regulations to every cop in every state. Firefighters have nationally recognized training, staffing and safety standards; cops should too because real reform means ending the snarky fallacy of “They knew what they signed up for.”

No one signs up to wear a bullseye without a chance to defend themselves or to spend days in a cartel grow full of banned neurotoxins without the veil of Tyvek and gloves. No one signs up to track that trash back to their homes and families.


Real reform means no cop’s family ever again gets a bill for the helicopter that evacuated their bleeding officer from a crime scene before they’re even discharged from the hospital.

It means providing care to the wounded without making them do battle alone with a work comp system loaded in favor of their employers.

It means not firing them when they get beat up, or shot, or run over and can’t get all better in six months or less. Officers are your department’s assets, not blots on a balance sheet.

Real reform means understanding that real life isn’t like TV; the good guy won’t be back by the next episode, cracking jokes with his arm in a sling. Everyone celebrates when a cop shop hires a wounded combat veteran, prosthesis and all. That veteran didn’t go from battered amputee to overcomer overnight. Reform expectations so that officers who get hurt in the service of their city get the same grace we give the veteran.


Real reform looks like pay scales that allow officers to live where their families are reasonably safe without working two side jobs. If you pay fast-food wages, you can’t complain when you get fast food quality. That’s not greed, it’s economics.

Real reform looks like secure retirement. Policing is a life-shortening field. It breaks people down physically and mentally, and the days of desk jobs for salty silverbacks are long gone.

Real reform gives the officers who do our heavy lifting a chance at a dignified life when their bodies and spirits are worn. In an economy that rationalizes millions of dollars for people who play with balls because their careers are short and hazardous, real reform uses that same reasoning to remake shoddy retirement and disability systems.


Real reform looks like changing laws that don’t work instead of penalizing officers who enforce them.

Real reform looks like contending with cops as people, instead of robots programmed to respond with emotion only when it’s convenient and photogenic.

Real reform looks like a deliberate end to the social betrayal and sanctuary trauma that comes from sending officers into the worst that humanity can wreak for years unending, and then punishing them for reacting like humans. Humans who are allowed to heal have the emotional reserves to treat other humans more carefully. That’s what everyone says they want.

Let’s do what it takes to get that.

We have long understood the nasty effects of othering, of dehumanizing, and of self-fulfilling prophecies. Real reform means pressure to apply that understanding even to cops.

Real reform means accepting that change is hard and expensive – but it’s worth it, if you do it right. Communities say they want reform now, and those communities express their priorities with their wallets as well as with their will.

If you mean it, then let’s do this – for real.

Kathleen Dias writes features and news analysis on topics of concern to law enforcement professionals serving in rural and remote locations. She uses her background in writing, teaching and marketing to advocate for professional levels of training and equipment for rural officers, open channels of communication for isolated departments, and dispel myths about rural policing. She’s had a front-row seat observing rural agencies – local, state and federal – from the Sierra foothills to California’s notorious Emerald Triangle, for more than 30 years.

Alzheimer’s Association Provides Free Training for First Responders

A poll conducted from May 20 to June 2 by Police1.com asked:

Have you received training to recognize the signs of and appropriately respond to a person with dementia?

Of the 515 who participated, 51% responded “Yes” and 49% responded “No.”

The Alzheimer’s Association hopes to change that by providing free online training. 

As a first responder, it’s critical to understand how to best approach situations involving someone with Alzheimer’s disease. Approaching Alzheimer’s: First Responder Training program is a free, online training that features high-quality content in an interactive format, developed by the Alzheimer’s Association with input from first responders. It can be accessed:

  • Anytime of day, or night, accommodating for shift work and new hires
  • By anyone with access to a computer and the internet, making it easy to take from home or work

To promote the training within your department or agency, use this downloadable flyer to distribute or post in your breakroom.

The training also includes a downloadable tip sheet, Quick Tips for First Responders. This handy page can be folded to fit in a visor or emergency kit, and includes helpful phone numbers and strategies to help a person with dementia and their family.

Other resources for families in your community:

  • Safety information: Taking measures to ensure safety at all times can help prevent injuries, and it can help people with dementia feel relaxed and less overwhelmed. The Alzheimer’s Association safety section provides valuable information on safety in the home, driving and other safety issues.
  • MedicAlert® with 24/7 Wandering Support: A nationwide emergency response service for individuals living with Alzheimer’s disease or another dementia who wander or have a medical emergency.
  • Alzheimer’s Navigator®: Alzheimer’s Association’s Alzheimer’s Navigator is an innovative online tool designed specifically for families, to create a personalized action plan and linking them to information, support and local resources.

  • For more information on the MedicAlert Law Enforcement Agency Portal (LEAP), click here. The LEAP program provides FREE enrollment into the MedicAlert + Safe Return program for people living with dementia who are registered through a law enforcement agency’s online portal.

More information on the free first responder course

The course has an interactive map that allows you to explore topics relevant to your role. Once you have completed all topics, you can print a certificate celebrating that you are Ready to Respond! Training topics include:

  • Briefing (Dementia Overview)
  • Wandering
  • Driving
  • Abuse and Neglect
  • Shoplifting
  • Disaster Response

Sign up here.

For a video explaining the program, watch this YouTube video.

Unsplash photo by Huy Phan

Crime Reduction: Enforcement and Prevention Strategies

Crime Reduction: Enforcement and Prevention Strategies offers current guidance on effective enforcement and policing strategies aimed at crime reduction.

The course also explores the application of crime prevention as a means of actively interdicting and preventing crime in our nation’s communities. To help connect principles to practice, this course highlights crime reduction initiatives undertaken by law enforcement agencies around the country, demonstrating how policing strategies can be applied in varying contexts.

Through video interviews and case studies, each module presents real-world examples to illustrate the strategies presented in the course.



About This Course

Crime Reduction: Enforcement and Prevention Strategies is designed to provide participants with an overview of best practices for crime reduction, including guidelines for implementing an organizational model for crime reduction at all levels within a police department. The course offers useful strategies for problem solving in order to develop immediate, short-term, and long-term responses to crime within a community.

Participants should expect to spend approximately 3-4 hours exploring the content and resources in this course. The design of the course allows participants to stop and resume the training based on the demands of their schedule.

This tuition-free online training was developed by the Virginia Center for Policing Innovation (VCPI) and was originally supported by cooperative agreement 2017-CK-WXK-001 by the U.S. Department of Justice, Office of Community Oriented Policing Services.

Primary Audience

This course is intended for law enforcement personnel at any level of experience within organizations of any size.