Trending Topics

Police history: How the Newhall incident shaped police training, tactics

The Newhall shooting caused a change in tactics for the California Highway Patrol and agencies nationwide


Photo/Mike Wood

On April 6, 1970, four California Highway Patrolmen, Officers Roger Gore, Walter Frago, James Pence, and George Alleyn, were slain by a pair of violent felons who then escaped from the scene in Newhall, California.

The Newhall shooting caused a change in tactics for the CHP and agencies nationwide leading to police training focusing on tactical street survival and developing a survival mindset, a change in targets used on the range, shooting at moving targets, an emphasis on cover and concealment, speed loaders v. suicide pouches, proper carry of the shotgun and felony stop tactics.

The tragedy serves as a reminder to everyone on the line to not be complacent and always focus on your A-game. There are offenders out there ready and willing to kill you.

The incident lessons bear repeating and teaching to each generation of law enforcement officers. CHP training videos providing an overview of the Newhall incident can be viewed here and here. The following felony stop training video was also created in response to the incident:

Training acronym

As a result of the Newhall shooting, the CHP created the following training acronym:

N - Never approach a dangerous situation until you are adequately prepared and supported.

E - Evaluate the offense, determine if you might be dealing with something more dangerous than it looks.

W - Wait for backup.

H - Have a plan (in other words, don’t just wade into a situation without planning every move).

A - Always maintain the advantage over the opponent.

L - Look for the unusual.

L - Leave the scene when in doubt.

Police tactics constantly evolve

Evolving tactics and techniques and improved procedures are a constant for law enforcement officers. The following video shows a progression and improvement in officer safety tactics, as well as the foundations for what you now do today on felony stops. Knowing and mastering the fundamentals of vehicle approaches, building approaches and defensive tactics and with firearms is the key! The evolution for law enforcement practitioners is never-ending.

NEXT: Lessons from the Newhall gunfight

    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.