Training Over Tools

So far it had been an uneventful Saturday night. I…

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So far it had been an uneventful Saturday night. I was sitting on the couch covered by my kids, and oddly enough I was watching Cops. My Nextel chirped and the dispatcher said there was a barricade on a nearby street.
Immediately I envisioned the little clapboard houses that resembled old WWII housing. I got up, threw on some BDUs and got in the car. From time of call, to leaving the house, and running lights and sirens, to the scene, seemed to be all of 3 minutes.

En route it seemed that I ended up in front of or in back of more SWAT units on the way to the call-out. Upon arrival we learned that a distraught female had threatened her baby, and her boyfriend had fled the residence with the infant and called police. She continued to answer the phone but would not engage the negotiators in conversation, but could be heard yelling in a back room. The boyfriend advised the negotiators during debriefing that his girlfriend had taken a large quantity of anti-depressants along with alcohol.

Because of the meds and booze along with the lack of contact, a plan was devised to make a surreptitious entry into the house and stage at the bedroom door. Just prior to making entry I was given a TASER by an officer from a neighboring jurisdiction. We did not yet have them but I had attended training on my own time. The team leader wanted that option so I clipped the Tec Loc-equipped holster onto the strap of my 6004 Safariland drop holster.

As it turned out, the front door was unlocked and initial entry was made without incident. Once inside the door, we identified which room the suspect was in. The team leader tried the door and I saw him shake his head side to side. It was locked. I removed my Strider fixed blade knife from my leg and handed it to him. At this time we could hear the woman ranting and raving in the house. As the team leader picked the door she began to yell and said that the police better not be in her house. She had music turned up and that masked our actions just enough. A very soft click was heard on the lock as the team leader got a nervous smile on his face. He communicated through hand signals that on the count of three, he was going to deploy a flash bang diversionary device into the room and we were to make entry. He slightly bounced up and down three times before opening the door and tossing the bang. All five operators rushed in the room and cleared all the corners from floor to ceiling until one person opened the closet door in the corner of the room. Out of the hazy gray smoke of the bang came a hand just hacking with a 7-inch kitchen knife. By this time some officers were standing on the bed to change their shot angle as we realized the suspect was sitting on the floor of the closet and trying to push herself up with her left hand while hacking with her right. The team leader yelled, “TASER, TASER” as I stepped in from his right and pulled the trigger. I could see the laser dancing on her chest. I heard the “pop” of the TASER but it had no effect.

In the seconds we covered down yelling verbal commands for her to drop the knife as she began to make progress pushing herself to a standing position in the closet. I dropped the TASER and drew my 21-inch ASP that I had placed in my back pocket. After closing the distance just a little I was able to land several good strikes on her radial nerve and she dropped the knife. As one officer kicked it under the bed everyone else holstered and rushed her. A struggle ensued but she was eventually taken into custody. Hesitation marks both old and new were evident on her wrists.

Once outside it was discovered that the air cartridge popped but the probes did not deploy. I just kind of shrugged as I handed it back to the deputy.

As an edged weapon survival instructor I realized that her reach and threat was limited as long as she was not able to stand, and that the ASP was the tool for the job. Had she been standing when the door was opened this story might have a different ending.

No matter how much technology is introduced to police work, one thing stands true. Training over tools.
—GM, MD

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