Worth a read and discussion with your senior administrators
Should you shoot someone breaching the U.S. Capitol?
Decisions to use force, especially deadly force, are unquestionably the most critical an officer will ever make
Today at 10:27 AM
- This article is reprinted with permission from Calibre Press
By Jim Glennon
A loaded question and a loaded title, right?
Calibre Press articles generally focus on police training and decision-making is an essential part of all training. We also address issues that impact the profession and today we find ourselves with no lack of impactful issues.
SHOULD YOU SHOOT SOMEONE BREACHING THE U.S. CAPITOL?
I repeat the title because decisions to use force, especially deadly force, are unquestionably the most critical an officer will ever make. They’re very often made in the blink of an eye, under extreme stress and being processed with incomplete information and restricted cognitive abilities. They’re also something that officers will have to explain, justify and live with for the rest of their lives. That’s a fact that those disparaging the police on a regular basis never talk about.
The police are taught that if their lives or the lives of innocent others are in imminent jeopardy, they are legally allowed to use the force necessary to stop the threat. The advent of body cameras and our ability to review force encounters confirms that in the vast majority of cases where officers decide to use deadly force, they are justified in doing so.
Go to YouTube and look at the dozens and dozens of examples of that. People charging officers with knives and guns and after receiving multiple warnings to stop, still deciding to attack. The legal justification is clear; the officers had to shoot.
A terrible decision to have to make, but a decision that was obviously necessary. The decision was to save a life by taking one.
It’s life altering.
But what if the decision is not so clear cut?
SHOULD YOU SHOOT TO STOP AN UNKNOWN LEVEL OF THREAT OR CONSEQUENCE?
Case in point: Congress is in session. We basically have the entire House of Representatives and members of the Senate all in one building. There are countless offices in that same building filled with staff members and rife with top-secret documents and electronic equipment storing government secrets.
And someone with a backpack ignores law enforcement orders, breaks through a window and begins climbing through. They’re breaching the United States Capitol.
Now what? Watch this footage and think about what YOU would do…https://www.youtube.com/embed/LMTfP6chPMQ?rel=0
Forget what you have seen; the videos of the mob and rioters disrespecting our laws and brazenly overtaking and occupying the Capitol building on January 6th. Imagine it was just one person effecting the breach.
What do you do if you are a Capitol police officer or a member of the United States Secret Service?
What sane person would ignore orders from a duly appointed, armed law enforcement official? What is their purpose, goal, intent?
What about that backpack? What’s in it?
What if it contains explosives? Anthrax?
What if it doesn’t contain anything but clothing and a rambling political manifesto?
The decision to shoot or not to shoot would take place in less time than it took me to type those questions.
Now imagine that it’s not just one person breaching. It’s one thousand.
When I watched the movie “White House Down” I wondered how possible it would be to take one building, whether the White House or the Capitol. I thought the movie, while very entertaining, was too farfetched to be believed.
The shooting of the former military veteran by a sworn Capitol police officer climbing through that window is tragic on so many levels.
But disregarding emotion, was it a good shoot?
What would you have done?
The second-guessing is already starting.
HOW ABOUT THESE SCENARIOS?
Let’s forget the Capitol.
Imagine this: A riot is in full swing. A man with a Molotov cocktail, the wick burning, isn’t running toward the Capitol full of elected Representatives and Senators, but a house with regular citizens in it.
Do you shoot to stop?
A burning cart is being pushed toward a car dealership. You have no way of knowing if anyone is inside the business.
Do you shoot to stop?
A police station has officers trapped inside unable to escape because the doors have been locked from the outside by attackers who are setting the building on fire.
Do you shoot to stop?
Thirty people are smashing windows and storming a store filled with frightened women who locked the doors because of the violent behavior of the rioters. Do you allow them to break, enter, pillage and perhaps assault and rape those women?
How do you stop them?
This job has never been easy when it comes to making deadly force decisions in the moment. The second-guessing is easy. It’s also arrogant and presumptuous.
It’s usually done with malicious bias, self-righteousness and complete ignorance of the deadly realities and immense complexities of these situations. It also totally disregards the humanity of the officers involved and the emotional, psychological and often legal aftermath they face. For doing their jobs. For protecting others.
What happened at the Capitol a few days ago is mind-boggling on so many levels. It was an embarrassment to the country and what we stand for. It was unnecessary. It was egregious.
The question will forever be: Was it preventable?
Could someone in power have done something, anything, to have prevented that moment where the Capitol police officer was put in a position to discharge his weapon and kill the women coming through the window? Why was she the only one shot?
Were there clear warnings to those approaching the Capitol that they would in fact be shot if they attempted to breach? Was there a plan to convey that message to the masses?
Was there too much of an attempt to de-escalate and avoid force on the part of the command and consequently the officers on the ground?
Did the fact that the multitude of other protests in major cities over the past eight months – protests that quickly exploded into violent, destructive riots, in many cases with impunity – impact the mindset of the protesters in D.C. on January 6?
Finally, did the Capitol police officers fear that if they used force their own careers would be in jeopardy?
While those questions are being asked and will be examined and investigated in the aftermath, it was a Capitol police officer who was put in the position to make the decision to shoot.
Let’s think of that officer while we scrutinize the unfortunate moment. Let’s consider his humanity.
He made a decision. A decision he didn’t want to make.
Why did he have to?
About the author
Lt. Jim Glennon (ret.) is the owner and lead instructor for Calibre Press. He is a third-generation LEO, retired from the Lombard (Illinois) PD after 29 years of service. Rising to the rank of lieutenant, he commanded both patrol and the Investigations Unit. In 1998, he was selected as the first Commander of Investigations for the newly formed DuPage County Major Crimes (Homicide) Task Force. He has a BA in Psychology, a Masters in Law Enforcement Justice Administration, is the author of the book “Arresting Communication: Essential Interaction Skills for Law Enforcement.”
The Calibre Column is provided by Calibre Press, Inc., one of the most recognized and respected law enforcement training organizations in the industry. Offering hundreds of courses each year on topics ranging from Street Survival®, Active Threat Engagement and Assault Detection & Response to Highway Patrol Tactics, Emotional Survival, and Leadership, Calibre Press has trained more than one million officers nationwide over its 40-year history. In addition to on-site courses, Calibre also offers an increasing collection of training-focused videos available through www.calibrepress.com.
From the Director’s Desk
Mark V. Lonsdale, STTU
At Urban Shield, a Las Vegas Metro PD SWAT commander shared key takeaways from the police response to the massacre
By Nancy Perry, Editor, Sep 12, 2018
On October 1, 2017, a gunman opened fire on 22,000 Las Vegas concert attendees from the 32nd floor of the Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino. The gunman fired more than 1,100 rounds over 10 minutes, leaving 58 people dead and 851 injured.
As part of the training offered at Urban Shield 2018, Captain Christopher Tomaino from the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department (LVMPD), commanding officer of LVMPD’s SWAT Bureau, discussed some of the lessons identified from the police, fire and EMS response to the Route 91 Harvest music festival shooting.
THE CHALLENGE OF SPECIAL EVENTS
Contrary to popular opinion, noted Tomaino, the Las Vegas economy is driven as much by special events as it is by gambling. For example, the annual Electric Daisy Carnival runs for three nights attracting 100,000 people each evening and is staffed by 500 officers.
“Agencies should think about security issues at open-air events and the possibility of attacks from surrounding buildings like we saw in Las Vegas,” said Tomaino.
One challenge facing 911 dispatchers was that most of the people attending the Route 91 Harvest Festival were from out of town. As the concertgoers started to flee the scene, they ran to different landmarks and casinos then called dispatch to report the shooting or that they had been injured. This led to several false reports of shootings at other locations.
Another complication for officers trying to orient to the threat was that when the performers left the stage, the mics were left on. This resulted in gunshots being echoed by the speaker system, which led some officers to believe that the shooting was at ground level.
MEMORABLE QUOTES ABOUT PREPLANNING SPECIAL EVENT RESPONSE
Here are some of Tomaino’s most memorable quotes from the presentation:
“You need to think about uniting family members and victims. This process should be table-topped ahead of time.”
“We ran out of tourniquets. Ensure MCI medical supplies are available at large-scale events as part of the special event planning process. The more you can forward deploy at hotels and mass gathering events, the better.”
“Community wellness is important as the community is looking to us as emergency responders to provide that support.”
“Unlike the fire department, we didn’t have access to elevator keys. Your department should get access and start training with them as that will give you a tremendous advantage to being able to deploy your team.”
4 KEY TAKEAWAYS
During his presentation, Tomaino discussed several topics, including handling the digital evidence from the event, how to manage the media, and the importance of collaboration between fire, EMS and hospital personnel. Here are four key actions every LE agency should take ahead of a special event:
1. Develop a digital evidence policy
To date, investigators have reviewed approximately 21,560 hours of video and 251,099 images. The video and images were obtained from security cameras and police body-worn cameras, as well as cellular telephone video submitted by the public to the FBI.
“For those departments who are looking to move toward their officers wearing body-worn cameras, the agency must develop a strategy for how they will handle both the analysis and release of video captured from such an event,” said Tomaino. “We are still working through many things concerning the pros and cons of releasing BWC footage in terms of re-victimizing the victims who were there.”
LVMPD also had to retask multiple officers so they could review the thousands of hours of video of the shooting.
2. Learn to expect the unexpected
While Tomaino was en route to the scene, he started to hear radio traffic that people were breaching the fence of McCarran Airport, located about a mile from Mandalay Bay. At the time it was unclear if those individuals were victims who had fled the scene or additional perpetrators.
“Radio traffic based on 911 callers suggested these individuals were suspects, but during an incident such as this you only want to talk to the dispatcher or the boots on the ground,” said Tomaino. “I contacted an airport officer to ask what he was seeing and it became clear these were attendees of the music festival who had fled the scene. They were corralled into a hangar and isolated and triaged.”
As Tomaino had considered deploying a SWAT team to the airport to address this threat, the truth prevented valuable resources from being mistakenly dispatched.
3. Address community survival strategies
A significant number of the victims of the Las Vegas shooting were transported by personal vehicle to hospitals as people fled the concert and carried the injured to safety. Many of those people were not from Las Vegas so they used different cell phone apps to direct them to the nearest hospital. However, noted Tomaino, those apps did not distinguish between Level I and Level II trauma centers, which resulted in some civilians driving victims to Sunrise Hospital, a Level II trauma center, which was not as well equipped as nearby UMC, a Level I trauma center.
“You need to tabletop this with communities ahead of time. People will self-direct to care during such events and they need to be educated about the limitations of these smartphone apps,” said Tomaino.
4. Revisit hospital response policies
LVMPD sent police officers to the Vegas hospitals who were receiving victims to protect these potential secondary targets. When the nurses and doctors who self-deployed from home arrived at the hospital, they said they were relieved to see LVMPD officers outside the facility. Consider incorporating a similar policy into your response plans, said Tomaino.
It would also be helpful, noted Tomaino, to stage EMS personnel outside hospitals to perform intermediary triage of victims arriving by private vehicle. This would prevent hospital staff from having to leave the facility to manage those patients.
ADDITIONAL CONSIDERATIONS FOR LARGE-SCALE EVENT RESPONSE
There were several other lessons identified that Tomaino shared with attendees:
- Do not wait to build relationships with local (police and fire) and federal partners. These relationships should already be established before a large-scale event taking place.
- Ensure rifles are in place for overwatch at large-scale events as part of the special event planning process.
- Update Multi-Assault Counter-Terrorism Action Capabilities (MACTAC) and hostile MCI policies to include police and fire training in hot zone situations and/or threats.
- Most agencies can handle their local media outlets. It is important to understand how to deal with non-local media as their approach is very aggressive and they bring more resources to bear.
- Make sure officers know that in the aftermath of a critical incident, that their BWC footage, radio traffic and calls into the communications center will most likely be made public. Prepare them often and early for this through an Employee Wellness Plan.
- Be cognizant of the potential for a large volume of donations of various goods. Develop a tracking system and designated drop-off locations for these items during significant incidents.
- Create an MCI investigative taskforce for incidents of this magnitude as opposed to only a select few detectives handling.
RELATED RESOURCES ON SPECIAL EVENT AND ACTIVE SHOOTER RESPONSE
- Event security: 7 best practices to prevent or stop violence
- Event security planning: Why police need a red team mindset
- Top takeaways from the latest FBI report on active shooters
- Why law enforcement needs an incident action plan for every event
- How police, fire and EMS can coordinate active shooter response
- Why public safety needs an integrated response plan for acts of mass violence
- 8 essential truths about MCI response plans in the wake of the Vegas shooting
About the author
Nancy Perry is Editor-in-Chief of Police1 and Corrections1, responsible for defining original editorial content, tracking industry trends, managing expert contributors and leading execution of special coverage efforts.
Prior to joining Lexipol in 2017, Nancy served as an editor for emergency medical services publications and communities for 22 years, during which she received a Jesse H. Neal award. She has a bachelor’s degree in English Literature from the University of Sussex in England and a master’s degree in Professional Writing from the University of Southern California. She is based out of Santa Clarita, California. Ask questions or submit ideas to Nancy by e-mailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
By Mark V. Lonsdale, STTU
At approximately 09:45 on 11 SEPT 2001 the Pentagon came under attack by radical fundamentalists. After taking control of American Airlines Flight 77, a 757 loaded with innocent souls, hijackers intentionally piloted the aircraft into the side of the Pentagon killing 125 in the building, all 59 aboard the plane, and injuring 110 others.
The plane had hit at ground level, but being thankful for small blessings, this section of the Pentagon had just been renovated and was not fully occupied. In addition, the floors above, 3rd, 4th and 5th floors, stayed up for another 45 minutes allowing more people to escape or be rescued. The armored windows and fire protection that had been installed during the renovation of that section also mitigated some of the damage. Plus the inside walls on the outer ring are lined with a kevlar material (the material used in body armor) to prevent shrapnel from entering the occupied space. Had the hijacked plane hit an area that had not been renovated, or was fully occupied, the disaster could have been quantifiably worse.
As a testament to the strength and resolve of the American people, the damage to the Pentagon was repaired in record time. The construction workers working on Project Phoenix considered it an honor to be part of the effort to bring the US military command structure back to full capability. And right there in the rubble working on the renovation was former First Class Diver SW2 (DV) Patrick Stethem, the brother of SW2 (DV) Robert Stethem who had been killed by terrorists in 1985. Like his brother, Patrick had served two tours with UCT-1 in Little Creek and, after 9-11, went on to continue serving with pride as a civilian contractor on the Pentagon project.
But not to dwell on the tragedy, the U.S. military response was swift, deadly and effective. Although the Pentagon had been damaged, it in no way hindered the national command authority (NCA) from identifying the al Qaeda attackers and going after their leaders, cohorts and bases in Afghanistan.
Never Forget 9-11
THE GLOBAL WAR ON TERRORISM
2001 – Until it’s over….
By Mark V. Lonsdale
“No matter how long it takes, no matter where we have to look, our United States military will patiently and surely hunt down the murderers and killers and terrorists, and bring them, one by one, to justice.” President George W. Bush – Commander in Chief
Monday, September 10, 2001 had been a crisp, clear day at the USMC Mountain Warfare Training Center (MWTC). It was sunset as I watched 5th platoon, 1st Force Recon Marines, their faces ominously obscured under layers of green camouflage paint, go through last minute equipment checks, preparing to be inserted into the mountains for a five-day recon-patrol exercise. MBITRs (multi-band inter/intra-team radios) frequencies had been set and tested; sat-com radios were safely stowed in already bulging rucksacks; PVS-17 night sights were clamped to M-4 carbines and SAWS (squad automatic weapons); and all loose straps were neatly taped and stowed.
Captain Fiscus and Gunny Blakey moved amongst the group checking equipment, quietly asking questions and giving encouragement. It was essential that every man understood the mission and knew his specific tasks.
The planned airborne parachute insertion had been aborted an hour earlier when the CH-53 troop-carrying helicopters could not make the pre-sunset time-line. With the flexibility typical of any spec-ops unit, the platoon commander opted for a vehicle insertion to the pre-planned DZ at 7,500 feet elevation.
As the Sierra Nevadas turned purple and faded into total darkness, and before the moon could break through, the Gunny signaled the teams to saddle up and silently move out. It was impressive to see and yet not hear twenty Marines, each burdened with a hundred pounds of weapons, radios and equipment, move off into the inky blackness without so much as a single sound.
So by midnight I found myself with two choices. The first was to link up with the “opposition force” and try to find these phantoms – but since they had already proven themselves adept at night movement and had the advantage of Gen III night vision devices, there was little to no hope of finding them that night. So I opted for the second choice – to drive back to Los Angeles with the plan of returning to MWTC for their extract in five days.
Arriving home at five-thirty in the morning, and after two days without sleep, I showered and hit the rack. Sleep came quickly but not for long. Sometime before zero-seven the phone began an incessant ringing. It was my neighbor babbling something about watching my place while I was away. “While I’m a way?” I asked groggily, “I just got home!”
She then blurted out that terrorists had attacked New York and the Pentagon and I needed to turn on the television. Flipping to CNN I was just in time to see a passenger airliner hit the World Trade Center. Then there was footage from the Pentagon; then back to New York as the second tower was hit. Confused and half asleep I felt like I was watching a Schwarznegger movie. Was this really the news? I quickly flipped through the local morning news line up – ABC, NBC, CBS, Fox – but all coverage was focused on New York and the Pentagon.
By mid-morning I had a passing thought about the Marine Force Recon platoon that had just disappeared into the mountains the night before and would be emerging in five days to a very different United States. Having worked in counter terrorism and training for over 20 years, I knew that what we were seeing was a whole new level of terrorist violence and destruction. The news media was already speculating on the potential casualties in New York and it was in the thousands, many times more than Pearl Harbor.
But now the proverbial “gloves were coming off.” The US military was going to be given the teeth to hunt and kill those who meant us harm. Little did I know at that time, that I would be in and out of Afghanistan, Iraq and Africa a dozen times over the next 10 years.
By Mark V. Lonsdale, STTU
Why you should Never Forget 9-11…. It may be 19 years since 9-11 but the war still rages on in the shadows.
Remember, they attacked us on land in 1998 when they hit the US embassies in Dar-es-Salaam and Nairobi, Kenya, killing 224 and injuring 4,000. They attacked us on sea in October 2000 when they hit the USS Cole in Aden, Yemen. They attacked us by air in 2001 when they hit the Twin Towers and Pentagon with 2,992 killed or missing.
Their willingness to indiscriminately kill and maim innocent civilians is evident.
2002 they bombed tourists in Bali, Indonesia killing 200.
2004 they bombed commuter trains in Madrid killing 190 and injuring 1,400.
2005 they bombed the London subway and a bus killing 52.
2008 they hit the Marriott Hotel in Islamabad with a massive truck bomb killing 50 and injuring 200. Then they attacked multiple targets in Mumbai, India, killing 166
2009 they hit a CIA base at Camp Chapman, Khost, Afghanistan killing 7 dedicated officers and wounding 6 others.
2012 (9-11) they attacked the US consulate in Benghazi, Libya killing Ambassador Chris Stevens, Glen Doherty, Tyrone Woods, and Sean Smith.
2015 they attacked Charlie Hebdo in Paris killing 12 and wounding 11. Then in November there were multiple attacks in Paris, including the Bataclan nightclub, killing 90 and wounding 200.
And this doesn’t count hundreds of bombings and shootings in Baghdad and Kabul, and the dozens of foiled bombing attacks on innocent civilians, postal systems, and passenger aircraft.
So don’t think for a second that this global war on terrorism is either won or over. Radical Islam has declared war on the United States, our allies, and western values, so Americans must remain vigilant. Our intelligence services, military, and law enforcement agencies will be holding the line and hunting these dangerous fanatics for generations to come.
Never Forget 9-11