Ambushes Leading Cause of Officer Fatalities – When Every Second Counts: Analysis of Officer Movement from Trained Ready Tactical Positions

Law Enforcement Executive Forum

Law Enforcement Executive Forum

Authors: William J. Lewinski, Jennifer L. Dysterheft, Jacob M. Bushey, Nathan D. Dicks

Recently, the threat of ambush assaults to police officers has dangerously increased. These assaults can occur very rapidly, and to be better prepared to respond, it is important to understand the speed of officer responses and any advantages officers may gain from various tactical techniques. Therefore, the purpose of this study was to understand and examine officer movement times from various finger-indexing positions as well as the speed at which officers can fire their weapons from various starting positions. In the first experiment, officers (n = 52) fired their weapons from four trained finger-index positions to measure their time to fire. In the second experiment, officers (n = 68) fired their weapons from various starting, or tactically ready, positions to measure the speed of movement to weapon discharge. Results of Part One showed that contrary to training, all indexing positions were similar in time to contact the trigger, except indexing high on the slide. Part Two revealed that point shooting was significantly faster than aimed shooting as well as that the Low-Ready position was the fastest from which to fire, and the High-Guard ready position was the slowest. These results may provide analytical and training implications to improve the safety of officers.

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