In an armed encounter with an apparently unarmed and complaint subject:
Ideally from a position of cover:
- Order the subject to stop movement: DON’T MOVE.
- Order the subject to move his hands away from his waistline: HANDS UP.
- Expose waistline and impair subject’s vision: REACH BACK AND GRAB THE COLLAR OF YOUR SHIRT, NOW PULL THE SHIRT OVER YOUR HEAD.
- Visually clear the subject’s entire waistline: WHEN I TELL YOU TO MOVE, I WANT YOU. TO TURN AROUND, SLOWLY, ONE STEP AT A TIME…DO IT NOW.
- Direct the subject to move the subject, in a circle, 540 degrees so the subject stops facing away from you.
MOVING THE SUBJECT
In numerous circumstances, the safest thing an armed person could do is let the subject escape. The more time that’s spent with the subject, the more things could go wrong.
This is not an option for an on duty police officer. A police officer’s objective is to take the suspect into custody. In order to complete the goal, the officer has to expose himself/herself to risk. They have to holster and secure their firearm, close range with the suspect, reach for and manipulate handcuffs, grab the subject’s arm, handcuff, search, and transport the subject. Every step of this process has potential pitfalls and exposes the officer to attack.
For a citizen, allowing the subject to run away, in a specific way and under specific circumstances, may be the best option.
People who commit crimes, especially violent crimes. are usually not calm, cool, and collected. Often times they are high, drunk, and stupid. They may also be, experienced, brutal, and acclimated to violence. Most experienced violent criminals could read your anxiety and inexperience and, given time, will figure a way to use it against you. We could counter this with realistic training with realistic resistance under stress, proper mindset, and experience. We can also limit our exposure to the criminal by allowing him to leave.
Once a criminal encounters an armed citizen, they will have a stress response. Their vision may tunnel, things may slow down, they will sweat, heart rate and blood pressure will elevate. This stress response may make it hard for them to understand commands. Our commands need to be simple and concise.
Once things slow down and the stress response begins to dissipate, the subject might start thinking of ways to get out of the situation he is in. Clearly, he does not want to be shot but he also does not want to spend time in jail. The subject matter expert for Violent Criminal Actors is William Aprill. William and Paul Sharp co-teach an excellent class called Unthinkable which covers all aspects of criminal behavior and direct response to aggressive criminal action.
The longer you are exposed to the subject, the longer he has to start thinking of escape or attack plans. It also exposes you to visual and physical fatigue. The subject may attempt to engage you or your family in conversation to delay your response time which offer him advantage.
Your number one priority is your family and your safety, not the apprehension and conviction of a criminal.
With this priority in mind, we may make the decision to move the subject to our doorway or away from our area and let him run away.
As a general rule, if you are moving the subject towards you, you should have him walk backwards.
If you are moving the subject away from you, you should have him walk forwards. In other words, you are always behind the subject, not allowing him to get a visual fix on your location.
The subject should be moved one step at a time. Remember, if we followed the steps correctly, the subject’s shirt is pulled over his head and his vision is compromised. You are his guide and if he is compliant, he will follow every command.
The decision to move the subject or pin them in place rides on numerous factors.
- Will you move the subject past open doorways with family members in the rooms. Children may peak out of doors and get between you and the subject. Children or adults may stand in the doorway and get grabbed by the subject and used as a shield. Or, the subject may run into a room and break visual contact. If this is the case the better decision would be to pin the subject in place. Is it safe to you, your family, and innocent bystanders to move the subject?
- Did you observe a weapon on the subject? If you did, letting them walk might offer them an opportunity to access the weapon. When they leave, they may circle back with the weapon and use it as you let your guard down.
- Are they close to an exit? If they are, it’s easier to move them out of the structure and out of the area.
STEPS TO MOVE THE SUBJECT
- I am going to move you to the door and let you run. If you do not follow my instructions or attempt to turn around and hurt me or my family, I will shoot you. When I tell you to, I want you to move one step at a time.
- Step forward one step, do it now.
- Step forward one step, etc.
We will do this until we walk the subject out of the immediate area or out of our residence.
Now, we do not want to just let the subject run free. He may decide to go to a car and get a weapon, he may decide to run back towards us. So we give the subject a goal and tell him to run to that goal.
4. See that street lamp? When I tell you to, I want you to run towards the street lamp and keep running down the street. The police are coming and this is your opportunity to get away. I will be watching you the entire way, if you do anything I think is threating, I will shoot you. Now RUN!
We do not want to let our guard down. After the subject has left the area, we still want maintain vigligence. If police are responding, secure yourself and your family and holster your firearm. If you could leave the area, leave.
While leaving the area of conflict you should perform countersurveillance measures, ensuring no one following you. If you are meeting police to report the incident, meet them in a well lit populated area.
In the next article in this series we will describe a technique to pin the person in place.