If you read my blog regularly you know that I am pro-law enforcement. What else would I be after 22 years as a cop? In general, I make an effort to avoid political issues when I post, but some politicians inevitably weave their way into the fabric of policing, an honorable profession, by virtue of their dishonorable mouths and the compulsion to blurt in a public forum whatever they think it is their audience wants to hear.
It is of no concern to me personally how people voted in this most recent presidential election. Each of us must vote our conscience and live with the consequences. The question at the forefront of my mind is whether or not Shoot Em In The Leg Biden was serious when he made the statement that cops should be trained to shoot armed, violent suspects in the leg rather than the torso.
Cops know how ludicrous that statement is, but if you are not in law enforcement it is necessary to understand why police use-of-force training is conducted in the manner in which it is. First and foremost, it has nothing to do with a desire to kill. Use-of-force training, up to and including deadly force, was a standard developed decades ago which balanced the force necessary to effect an arrest in equilibrium to the level of violence being perpetrated by a suspect. Most often use-of-force is common sense, i.e., if a person is passively resisting arrest by locking their hands in close to their body to avoid having handcuffs put on, the officer shall only engage a use of force consistent with the circumstances to accomplish the arrest. In other words, they won't club or pepper spray that person but may use pain compliance techniques which cause temporary discomfort but no lasting or permanent damage to tissue or bone. Each of us has pressure points on our bodies that, when properly manipulated, can convince a person that complying with the commands of the officer is more favorable than enduring the pain. Drunks and dopers in general do not feel these applications as effectively as sober people, but that is an entirely different discussion.
A violent suspect refusing to comply, especially one armed with a bladed instrument or firearm, presents an immediate threat to public safety. In the time it takes to blink an eye, a suspect with a firearm can raise that weapon and shoot. By the same token, a suspect who says he has a firearm and/or is comporting himself in a manner in which the officer has reason to believe the suspect is armed is just as dangerous. Fact of life: If a suspect tells a cop he/she is armed, or acts like it, the officer is obliged to believe that the suspect is armed and react accordingly. Commands given to show hands and submit peacefully should be taken seriously and refusal to do so elevates the threat of harm to the officer and public and thus the risk of deadly force being deployed. Studies of police deaths and injuries have shown that suspects armed with bladed instruments are capable of covering distances as great as twenty-one feet before the officer can react in self-defense.
At this point, some readers might think that these situations are a good argument for trained counselors and/or tasers. For some reason, most likely ignorance of what cops actually do in the field, certain members of the public (which includes many politicians) actually think that cops don't know how to talk to people. This is an absurd conclusion which I won't address because it is an entirely different subject matter but suffice to say that the police are quite capable of talking with people experiencing emotional crisis without putting bullets in them. The emphasis of this article has to do with where we shoot and not why we shoot. By the way, tasing someone is no guarantee to stop violent behavior. Some law enforcement agencies have reported a taser failure rate of up to 50%. This doesn't necessarily mean the taser malfunctioned, it just didn't work on the individual on which it was deployed.
Police are trained to shoot the torso for two main reasons: (1) to stop the violent actions of the suspect and (2) the torso is the largest target area on the human body. With regards to the first reason, the greatest probability of stopping a violent suspect is to shoot him/her in the torso because that is where the vital organs are. Center mass on the torso is the heart, which as we all know from grade school science pumps blood carrying oxygen throughout the body. Around the heart are the lungs, and beneath the rib cage are the other vital organs necessary for life, but even striking the heart is no guarantee that the violent actions of a suspect will immediately cease. That is why, in an authorized use of deadly force, we keep shooting until the suspect stops his/her violent aggression. Not everyone who gets shot in the torso dies, but it is the optimal target area in stopping human beings hell-bent on destroying others.
Trying to shoot someone in the legs is problematic. First, the legs are smaller targets. Second, it is very likely that a suspect could be in motion towards the officer or other intended victims, and moving legs would be difficult to hit with gunfire. Bullets that miss their targets will eventually hit something or someone. Third, striking the legs is no guarantee that the suspect will stop violent aggression. They do, after all, have greater muscle mass than the torso. And, finally, Shoot Em In The Leg Biden needs to remember that there is a blood vessel in the leg known as the femoral artery. If the femoral is severed by a bullet, the person shot will most likely bleed to death before medical attention can be rendered, but they can still do a lot of damage prior to falling.
Let's leave "winging" the bad guy to Hollywood westerns.
One final note: Mr. Biden is the president-elect. If a gunman or gunmen were to make an attempt on his life, would he want the Secret Service agents protecting him to stop the violent aggression immediately, or aim for the legs and wing em?
We all know the answer to that question, don't we? Ain't it funny how priorities change when it's your ass on the line?