Today, I saw a meme (see below) made by our friend Salty Dad. The pictures are gruesome, there are no special effects and I don’t know the story behind them. These are pictures of Police Officers who have been on the wrong end of a knife wielding assailant. Look at them for a little bit, let the reality of the story sink in a little. This is real, this is un-sanitized reality and maybe in a couple cases, life altering. This is not week night TV series corn syrup and latex.
Don’t get me wrong, I am a huge fan TV serials. I love old Westerns, The Rifleman, Bonanza, The Lone Ranger, and the cheesy cop shows like TJ Hooker, Miami Vice and SWAT. They were fun but not real. Some of the newer shows are enjoyable but they lack the romance of the old shows, they exchange romance for grit and pseudo reality. Week after week one thing you can count on, however, is the bad guy being brought to justice.
The gun toting leviathans of TV drama could turn, draw, shoot from the hip and always knock away the gun or knife from an assailant. Current shows display the awesome power of the stun gun; one slight ZAP to the neck and the “shock-ee” is down for the count, waking up in a fog sometime later. Damn I wish that world was real life how very simple it would be. The evil-doers would always get their day in court after a short hospital stint for a flesh wound or a minor ass-whooping. Simplicity at its finest and most pure……sadly, the real world is far more complex.
Which brings up again the never ending cry “Why didn’t they just shoot him in the leg, arm, hand…wherever?” Or another fan favorite “He was only armed with a knife.” It seems no matter how many times this topic comes up one side is never satisfied with the answer. Unsurprisingly its the same side who believes everyone gets a trophy, diversity is always good and giving away other people’s money will right the wrongs of the world. These same people have never had to fight for their lives against a crazed drug addict or a repeat criminal who does not want to go back to prison. These people can no more wrap their brain around true evil than I can the idea of “free government cell phones”. Look back at those pictures again and tell me it was “only a knife”.
Time and time again this argument comes and goes. Time after time it stays unresolved festering until the next incident when the cries begin like the slow wail of an angry child, building until their face turns red and they can squeeze out a few token tears to sell their case.
I wonder how many of these people have ever seen the result of a real knife wound, not the kind you get when your cutting your bagel and the kitchen knife slips. Not the kind you see in the movie when someone gets stabbed in the gut and not even the stunning visual effects of modern cinema. How many have seen the real honest result of a vicious knife attack?
I have, as have most cops. Its not pretty, its not clean and its not always survivable. Knife wounds
can leave massive disfiguring wounds, they can cause irreparable damage to soft tissue, they can cleave bone and destroy ligaments leaving a limb useless. The blood……the blood. How to describe the blood…..its everywhere. There is so much blood it is hard to describe, sure gunshot wounds bleed, some are worse than others it depends on many factors. Knife wounds however gush, spew and pump blood into a horrific mess worthy of a slasher movie.
A few years ago I responded to call for an injured person. One of my partners arrived first and discovered a car at a gas station. It was in this car where the wounded person was located, the interior of the car was literally bathed in blood and as we discovered there were actually two injured people in the car. I arrived on scene and helped get these guys out of the car as the medics arrived. They both had open lacerations on their upper arms and thighs, one had a large chunk of his upper arm missing. They claimed they had been attacked by a guy with a machete in a nearby apartment complex.
Soon we discovered a bloody machete in the backseat of the car, seems these guys had also participated in the knife play. I went to the apartment complex they described. I went to the end of a long complex with a couple of my other partners and I could see a guy on a metal chair slumped over and staring at the ground. As we approached I could see his right arm was filleted open down to the bone, he was bleeding heavily and a woman was bringing him a towel. The parking lot had blood everywhere and a short distance from where he was seated was another bloody machete and a back pack. The guy in the chair told me he had been jumped by two guys with machete’s. He managed to dis-arm one of them and gave as good as he got. All three of these guys were career criminals and while I don’t know the real reason for the fight I’m certain it involved money, drugs or both. The crazy part of the whole thing? The guy in the chair also had a handgun. He pulled it out when the the machete twins charged him and never got a shot off. Maybe he could’ve shot these dudes in the leg, or shot the blades from their hands. Surely, as the adage goes “never bring a knife to a gun fight”. I guess someone never told these two wanna-be samurai
The mainstream media and the ever vocal politicians want to scream and yell of the evils and the dangers of guns and then in the same breath want to convince the world cops don’t really need to shoot people, we should talk things out or shoot to wound. I have seen many many articles and discussions about the 21 foot rule, and the speed with which an assailant can attack as well as the reaction time of a trained officer vs an armed assailant. The amazing thing is, the officer always is at a disadvantage. All the training, practicing and hours of scenario’s only serve to try and even the field. In the cold cruel world the reaction time of the an officer will never be faster than the action time of an assailant. When the bad guy makes up their mind to do something the cops will always be on the wrong end of the second hand. Reaction times and distances are critical when dealing with the unknown, something illustrated very will in this article from Chicago Warrior.
This is the reason cops are often heavily criticized for “heavy-handed” tactics. When you watch the video from your cozy living room and see two of three cops jump on a guy for “no good reason” you yell those guys should be fired, that poor young man was just talking. What people fail to understand is part of the training and practice to even the reaction table is also learning and looking for indicators. Experience is the best teacher, if you get enough chances. Every patrol cop out there can remember the first time they knew a guy was going to run before he did. Why? because of the the other ones who exhibited a behavior (which the officer missed) and the dude cut and ran. “Shit”, I’ll know better next time. The experience builds and soon experienced officers develop, well a “Spidey-sense” of sorts.
I have been a training officer in the field, I have watched new patrol officers miss the little details, the minor tremors of muscles, the twitch of an eye right before a guy gets ready to run. The tell-tale movements of a guy who is going to fight. The solution? Act first, act fast and act decisive, overwhelm the subject and live to learn. It doesn’t always mean shooting or beating someone, but it does mean making a choice and making it NOW. It means moving before you are reacting, I already told you if the bad guy moves first, the cop is already behind, it works both ways it just isn’t TV show pretty in real life. It is messy and awkward, but we don’t send officers out into the streets to be slaughtered. Just look back the pictures posted here, this is what happens when you are on the wrong end of the reaction equation. I don’t know the story of any of these officers, but one thing is sure, they were on the wrong end of the the game.
This is a knife wound story, this is what a knife will do, this is why cops don’t shoot to wound or shoot weapons free. The equation is very simple, shoot center mass and shoot to stop the threat…..the threat that will allow me and my partners to go home at night, the threat that will allow others to remain blissfully unaware of what goes on in the dark corners of the night, and the threat that allows others to criticize and second guess everything we do based on a TV script and special effects.
Stay safe, and make sure you go home every day!