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  1. #1

    Default Preserve Life or Make the Scene Safe?: Crisis of Articulation

    The Problem:

    I stopped by the local patrol district tonight to send off my end-of-watch report and was met by several young deputies from a squad I worked a homicide with last night. The four young guys are all with less than three years on and the brave one flat out told me they're unsure of why they did what they did last night after they were questioned by other investigators. In short, they feel they did well but they were lost in the articulation. Now, post-interview and report writing, they have fallen into the realm of insecurity. They wanted help..

    Last night at 2009 hours a "shots fired" call kicked out not far from where we were at. The call was of multiple small arm being actively fired at a residence and people running from the scene. These three were the first on-scene and encountered a hispanic male slumped over in the back seat of a passenger vehicle with "injuries incompatible with life." The front door to the residence was open and they heard more gunshots. Seeing the deceased victim in the back of the vehicle, the open door and hearing the gunshots they worked as a fire team and cleared the vehicle, front hard and residence. They say saw movement in an adjacent structure next to the house and noted the lights were on and doors were locked. There was no more shooting and they wanted to form up a team to breach the second structure. At this point I told them to hold, establish a perimeter, begin evacuations, perform life saving measures on the wounded if possible, and I started SWAT. I requested an adjacent agency's manpower and we tripled our numbers on scene; communication was established through and inter-op channel and we brought in aviation.

    Once inner and outer perimeters were up were up, we learned we had multiple deceased on scene and no living wounded. All of this from start to this point was a matter of minutes. Once SWAT went on-scene they breached the second structure and it was empty. Other units began the intelligence gathering process and manhunt while Homicide responded. That's the scene and the guys did great. The sergants needed help with incident commander and inter-op, but all went well.

    Now, 24 hours later I had three LEOs second guessing themselves about whether their job was to preserve life or make the scene safe... They told me in the academy they were always told to preserve life, but if that was the case maybe they should have held at the vehicle and not entered the first residence with the open door. Then, it all went to Hell and they were wondering if they should have tried to perform life saving measures on the deceased person in the vehicle and not worried about the shooting suspect event though they had additional shots fired.

    The Remedy:

    As I sat with the guys 24 hour later, heard there questions and listened to their concern, I realized they had a crisis of articulation. I write this article so maybe some of you won't have that problem.

    In regard to the priority on-scene, some of them had been told there job was to make the scene safe and some had been told their job was to preserve life. Coming from a background that investigates these incident I knew, and know, their priority has always been to preserve life, but as we sat I realized they didn't know how to articulate their following policy in pursuit of preserving life and simultaneously taking ground and killing bad people. We discussed filters and the main filter being "preserving life." We discussed that to "preserve life" they might need to do the following:
    1. Immediately triage on the run the victim in front of them was alive or dead, and if alive perhaps we'd have to come back to them as the only way to preserve their life was to contain and/or kill the shooter. If the person was dead, they were part of the scene and we moved on to the next victim.
    2. Take and hold a structure to prevent the shooter from actively disrupting the life saving process occuring outside.
    3. Temporarily bypass a victim to set the stage for a safer return to provide assistance at a later time, once the shooting is over..


    The New Result:

    The LEOs learned they could have their cake and eat it too if they learned to articulate within the necessary filter requried by Command and the Public. It isn't so much a question of preserving life or making the scene safe, but of making the scene safe as a necessary part of presering life. Baby detectives screwed with these guys' heads and we're on the right track now. I mention this story so maybe those in this business, or those who will one day be involved in a similar scene, remember it sometimes isn't what we do but how we articulate it. Our articulation is our reality.

    One group may say we preserve life first at the forsaking of removing the shooter. One group may say bypass the preservation of life to remove the shooter. I say articulation is power - I say removing the shooter is a necessary part of the life preservation model and articulate it in such a manner.

    If you're a new LEO, please don't get caught up in policy or black and white issues. Learn to articulate and you can weave your actions successfully through any policy and procedure.

    For what it's worth. After seeing what happened tonight I figured there might be others out there caught up in details that aren't there.

    - J

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Oct 2003
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    5,413
    I'm curious as to just what the Dick's line of thought was. And I'd be inclined to slap them back into their lane. Their job is to handle the whodunit, not lecture on tactics.

    From my point of view our attention first goes to the scene. We are incapable of preserving life if we allow the scene to have a configuration that will kill us. On a MVA, we don't kneel in the number one lane to apply a tourniquet until we prevent traffic from smooshing us. Yes, yes, we might drag the victim to the roadside, but that's still creating safety.

    When shots are still being fired, we must conclude that they're being fired with the intent and expectation of taking another life. We have to focus on that aspect of the scene first. Eliminating that hazard, just like eliminating the traffic hazard, is what allows us to shift focus. This is all tending towards separating pepper from fly specks, but it does guide our priority of tasks.
    __________

    "To spit on your hands and lower the pike; to stand fast over the body of Leonidas the King; to be rear guard at Kunu-Ri; to stand and be still to the Birkenhead Drill; these are not rational acts. They are often merely necessary." Pournelle

  3. #3
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    You know J...maybe I am mistaken but I am noting a new recklessness in LE in these events. I first saw it in that K9 kid in the shoothouse back in '15. I wonder if it contributed to the Sgt in Thousand Oaks being killed.

    Sure we want to save people...but back in the Jurassic Era, that was a byproduct of stopping/killing/arresting the bad guy. And the way to do that was solid aggressive tactics.
    Gabriel Suarez

    Turning Lambs into Lions Since 1995

    Suarez International USA Headquarters

  4. #4
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    Can't save others after you're dead.

  5. #5
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    May 2015
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    Grand Prairie, TX
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    If I may make an uneducated statement based on opinion; I feel that to preserve the one life at the cost of other potential MULTIPLE victims, isn’t worth the trade-off. One victim already has been determined and I would mentally check the box to come back later, and multiple shots still being fired, tell me that other people are in danger of being injured or killed and that’s a more pressing need. If the bodies stack up while you’re tending to one, did the job get completed well?

    I feel like this is common sense but forgive me if it is not my place to say so. Policy and tactics training notwithstanding. (And I kind of don’t care...if dept says “help this guy, be damned an active shooter”...I guess I would get fired)


    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
    Chris

  6. #6
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    Aug 2014
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    Quote Originally Posted by M1A's r Best View Post
    Can't save others after you're dead.
    And there it is.

    Take out the threat and you make the scene safe.
    Warrior for the working day.

    Es una cosa muy seria. --Robert Capa

    "...I ride the range in a Ford V8...Yippy Yi Yo Ki Yay." --Johnny Mercer

    "Can I move?...I'm better when I move."

    1, 11, 16. And a wakeup.

  7. #7
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    Default Preserve Life or Make the Scene Safe?: Crisis of Articulation

    Quote Originally Posted by Papa View Post
    And there it is.

    Take out the threat and you make the scene safe.
    Well said! I’ll raise you with wordsmithing for those that may tend to tunnel vision:
    “Take out the threat(s) and you may make the scene safe(r)”

    In the kata/AAA, does he, or do they, have friends?

    In air-to-air combat, one should always expect multiple bogies. Too often you’ll pick up one or two, but miss the outlier(s), radar or visual.

    And then there’s the incoming friendlies...
    Last edited by Ted Demosthenes; 11-13-2018 at 01:31 PM.
    Ted Demosthenes
    Suarez International Staff Instructor


    From Murphy: "Incoming has the right-of-way" (so, GTFOTX!!)

  8. #8
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    Aug 2014
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ted Demosthenes View Post
    Well said! I’ll raise you with wordsmithing for those that may tend to tunnel vision:
    “Take out the threat(s) and you may make the scene safe(r)”

    In the kata/AAA, does he, or do they, have friends?

    In air-to-air combat, one should always expect multiple bogies. Too often you’ll pick up one or two, but miss the outlier(s), radar or visual.

    And then there’s the incoming friendlies...
    Absolutely. Attack from all sides is expected.
    Warrior for the working day.

    Es una cosa muy seria. --Robert Capa

    "...I ride the range in a Ford V8...Yippy Yi Yo Ki Yay." --Johnny Mercer

    "Can I move?...I'm better when I move."

    1, 11, 16. And a wakeup.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Oct 2004
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    Quote Originally Posted by M1A's r Best View Post
    Can't save others after you're dead.
    YES!
    The 2cd Amendment has no technological cut off date!
    The extermination of Islam before my dhimmitude!
    8-10-3 forever!
    The operative formerly known as Pug Puppy
    COBRA!

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