Make a quick assumption on this guy. Any doubts? What will you do in 3,2,1 ?
In this article I want to explore the other side of the coin. How a CCW Operator or a responding Police Officer can avoid shooting a good guy. We all want to shoot the bad guy. But who wants to mistakenly shoot a good guy? Nobody.
My understanding is that the police mistakenly shoot one of their own almost once every year. There are no statistics kept on good guy on good guy encounters involving CCW personnel. I hope that this piece not only saves some lives, but also helps the CCW operator and Police Officer make sound tactical decisions.
First I think we need to establish some fundamental truths for our day and age. The police perspective comes from the street. The police are good guys and have good intentions when they respond to a call of a crime in progress. Their job is not to raise your kids, or to wipe you snotty nose. It is to enforce the law...sometimes by force.
They have no way of really telling the good guy from the bad guy before they arrive and oftentimes, not even then.
Sometimes it may be obvious, such as a man in a mask shooting at school children, but other times it is not so clear. They come at the problem with the view that everyone is considered a threat until proven otherwise. This upsets all the dope smoking sociology professors and the Libertarian types that dream about how "the world ought to be". Too bad, its reality. And that reality is that an officer going to a call for service where there may be a risk shooting views his safety as far more important than anybody’s rights, or their ideas about how things should be. You may not like it, it may not be fair, or right - but that is reality.
The point of this is to understand the mindset of the police as they arrive on scene. Until otherwise established, everyone is a suspect. As I said - It may not be “fair” but it is reality.
In some agencies, in regions where the existence of the “armed civilian” does not exist, the danger of good guy on good guy shootings is even greater. In places like California and New York, the attitude of “anyone with a gun and not in uniform is a bad guy” is pervasive. Improper training and agency attitude often supports that view.
The CCW operator, or Off Duty Officer have generally established procedures as well in that they generally try to avoid direct involvement and tend to reach for the cell phone rather than the pistol when they see something taking place.
Unless the event involves them being victimized directly, or is such a horrible incident that it offends the human senses, staying out of it is a wise course of action. But in those two situations, where they choose to get involved, we see the danger of being misidentified as a bad guy.
So how can you tell good guy from bad guy? How can you tell when there are more armed good guys than ever before…where the concern over terrorism has made many police administrators realize that the reality is that there will be armed good guys on scene that they do not know about?
While everyone wants to shoot the bad guy, nobody wants to shoot a good guy. Shooting a good guy is fratricide, whether he is wearing your “uniform” or not. Some will invariably say they have no time for such things and will shoot first leaving the questions for later. Well, if that is you don’t forget that you may easily be the one in another good guy’s sights. Wouldn’t you want him to have considered this when he is pointing at you?
We all want to shoot the bad guy...but nobody wants to shoot a good guy.
Since the vast majority of “blue on blue” fratricide events occur as a result of mis-identification, we need to examine some ways to address the problem. Here are some suggestions for the good guy to consider:
1) Look at the “subject’s” appearance. At the Trolley Square Mall shooting..... The police were on scene BEFORE the fight was over, and had to evaluate the off-duty cop they had been advised was on scene before linking up with him; His physical movements, weapons handling, use of cover and clean cut grooming sent a strong message to the first uniform on scene that this might not be the bad guy.
Does the subject of your attention look like he is trained?
Does he dress and look like a “good guy”.
Does he match the description of the bad guy? That in itself may not be enough to consider him a bad guy as that information may have been faulty.
Clearly not all good guys (or bad guys) look the part, and that is why we have additional points of reference, but it is a start. Consider as well that how you dress and how you look affects what people think about you, and how they will classify you.
There is never a second chance to make a first impression. If you go about dressed like a hip-Hop Thug Life advocate, don’t be surprised if people react to you at face value. Same if you go around looking like Bin Ladin’s twin. I suspect that has castile looked and spoken more like Ben Carson, he may not have been shot.
Recall the prince Georges County UC Officer shot by mistake when he responded to an attack at the station. He looked like the bad guys, was armed, and advancing…a recipe for fratricide. Again, it may not be right or fair, but it is reality.
Want to be treated like a gentleman? Dress and act like one.
2) Look at what is he armed with? Is it a modern high quality weapon, or is it some cheap thug firearm. The police would not use a Tech 9, nor an AK-47.
Dull, matte colored modern pistols and rifles are quite common in the hands of professionals. But a plain clothes, or UC guy not wearing a vest or other material saying "POLICE" or "SHERIFF" will probably not be armed with a rifle (logic goes that if you have time to get one, you have time to get the other).
3) Look at his actions. Obviously, if the subject points his weapon at you, or begins to, all bets are off and you stop them from doing that. Your life is of greater importance. But that will not always be the case. In video of the Mumbai murders, the terrorists were very relaxed. They were not worried about being shot and were doing all the shooting themselves. Contrast that with the movements of the victims and Indian police responders, who were running and making use of cover. In other mass shooting events, the bad guys were described as moving casually with their weapons.
One international associate of ours relates how his CT Unit found it relatively easy to determine bad guy from good guy with only a few seconds of observation based on actions.
"There were armed people shooting at women and children, and there were armed people who were not shooting at women and children.
I shot those in the first group.
No armed civilian responder was ever the victim of friendly fire, despite the fact that none of us knew each other and none of us were in uniform."
If you choose to get involved in an incident as CCW Operator, or Off Duty Officer, or if you are sent as a Uniformed Officer to a call involving gunfire, consider these three elements before making your deadly force decision. If you have time to analyze what is going on, you also have time to evaluate what you see before you.
Everyone wants to shoot the bad guy, but nobody wants to shoot a good guy. Those who bear arms, should bear this in mind. Today may be your day.