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Tactical considerations from an OIS

Bodycam video of Chicago police fatally shooting a man who stabbed a sergeant is a brutal reminder of the dangers officers face

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The Chicago Police Department officer-involved shooting of a knife-wielding suspect last month who got up from the ground after he was hit with a TASER, closed distance on officers and proceeded to stab a sergeant is a brutal reminder of the importance of applying sound tactics when it comes to the deployment of less than lethal tools.

After watching the incident, let’s discuss some tactical considerations.

  • Avoid TASER dependence. You cannot automatically turn to less than lethal tools before properly evaluating the situation and the offender.
  • Do not let the national dialogue around police use of force hesitate or blind you to proper lifesaving tactics techniques and protocols
  • Be prepared for what policing may task you to do! You may one day pull a suicidal person from a ledge, apply tourniquets and bandages to a person who is bleeding out, help an elderly person in need of assistance, read a book to children, place your life second when responding to an active shooter and be called upon to use deadly force to stop a lethal threat. Be prepared for this and what comes along with it. If you cannot accept this, law enforcement is not the profession for you.
  • Identify if the situation requires less lethal force or deadly force and respond accordingly. Ask yourself, is this a deadly force incident, or is it an incident that can be resolved through the use of less lethal tools? Use any discretionary time available to make the right decision.
  • Evaluate the offender you are going to deploy less lethal tools on to determine if the tool you selected is appropriate. Consider their clothing and mental state.
  • Understand that even the 21ft TASER cartridge can put you in the danger zone for an edged-weapons attack.
  • If you are going to deploy your TASER or another less-lethal tool, have lethal cover! If not, reconsider the decision to deploy. Call it and let your partner know – I’ve got lethal.
  • Contact and cover: Call it and let your partner know – I have cover.
  • Use your light system to your advantage. Note the wide beam in the video. If time allows, can you narrow it and use it to your advantage?
  • Know and practice how to transition from a TASER to a handgun.
  • Know what it looks like when an offender is intentionally breaking/cutting TASER cables. There is only one reason that this happens and it is an intentional act to prevent your tool from being effective.
  • Know the sound of a failed TASER deployment. TASER instructors should demonstrate the sound during refresher training.
  • Shot placement matters! Do not depend on a one-round stop. Be prepared to fire follow-up rounds.
  • Handcuff your offender and render aid when the threat has ended and safe to do so. If you are a solo officer, consider covering down on the offender until you have a cover officer.
  • Check your partner, yourself and everyone on scene from head to toe to make sure no one is bleeding or injured.
  • Contain the crime scene and evidence and secure witnesses.
  • Wear your body armor. While it may not be edged-weapons rated, as was shown in the video above, it stopped the threat.

I thank God for looking out for the CPD sergeant that night. Prayers for everyone.

Lawrence Lujan is an active field lieutenant with 32 years of service and a graduate of the FBI NA - 274. His operational experience has a nexus in special team tactics and techniques (gang investigation and enforcement, SWAT, active shooter response, mobile field force, mountain rescue and anti-burglary teams). His experience and background extend to leadership development, firearms instruction, operational tactics and international training (Korea and El Salvador), as well as deployments to Colombia and Honduras.