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LEO Near Miss: Domestic suspect could have ambushed officers at any time

‘Had he wanted us dead, we would be.’

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Fear and threats can often prevent victims from being fully cooperative with officers.

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Law Enforcement Officer (LEO) Near Miss is a voluntary, non-disciplinary officer safety initiative that allows law enforcement personnel to read about and anonymously share stories of close calls or “near misses,” which provide lessons learned that can protect fellow officers in similar situations.

Event Summary

We were sent to a domestic disturbance call in a small studio apartment.

My partner was talking to a female at the scene and I stood cover. The female said a male subject had left the scene. I was standing next to what I thought was a closet, which had a curtain as a door.

Something in the way the female subject was answering questions, as well as her body language, made me uneasy. I noticed her looking at the closet a few times.

We were five minutes into the call when I just casually reached over and parted the curtain. The male subject was standing right there. I was badly startled.

I reached in, grabbed his arm and took him to the floor with a few choice words. I cuffed him and did a pat-down. When I rolled him over, I found a loaded .38 snub in his waistband. Needless to say, had he wanted us dead, we would be. I could have gotten us both killed.

Lessons Learned

  • Conduct a safety sweep of EVERY domestic disturbance scene, no matter how small the scene is. Check every room and door. Ensure one officer is performing all cover-officer responsibilities.
  • The female in this incident said the male subject left because he had threatened to kill her if she told the officers he was there. Don’t assume the victim is being fully truthful with you; fear and threats can prevent them from being fully cooperative with officers.
  • Pay attention to your instincts. If something feels wrong, it probably is.

HOW TO SUBMIT YOUR NEAR MISS

Support this critical officer safety initiative by reading and sharing the near-miss stories and lessons learned that your fellow officers have shared, and consider sharing your own near-miss experiences at LEOnearmiss.org.

NEXT: Read more from the LEO Near Miss archives here

Established in 1970, the National Policing Institute, formerly the National Police Foundation, is an independent, non-partisan, and non-profit research organization, sometimes referred to as a think-tank, focused on pursuing excellence in policing through science and innovation. Our research and applied use of research guide us as we engage directly with policing organizations and communities to provide technical assistance, training, and research and development services to enhance safety, trust, and legitimacy. To view our work, visit us at www.policinginstitute.org.
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