June 14, 2020

| As policing continues to be turned upside down daily, there are many new concerns for peace officers everywhere. Law enforcement leaders and trainers must seriously evaluate the recent ambushes and attacks against police facilities and personnel.  This week’s thought brings attention to vehicles used as weapons to intentionally strike officers.

Recently, a Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Deputy in California [1] and a Springfield Police Officer in Missouri [2], were both intentionally struck and dragged by their attackers’ sport utility vehicles (SUV).  The female deputy was on a traffic stop and the male officer had stepped outside the station to deal with a man who had just urinated on the front of the police station.  Fortunately, both uniformed peace officers survived the attacks.

In the California assault, there were two attackers who abandoned their vehicle and escaped.   The Missouri assault involved a single assailant who used his SUV to pin the officer between the police facility’s safety bollard (a short thick post for security) and the SUV.  To stop this attacker from killing the trapped victim, a responding officer from the station used deadly force that wounded the vehicle’s driver.

Why should I review this information?

Based on these two attacks combined with other nationwide law enforcement officer vehicle assaults, field officers, supervisors, managers, and trainers should assess command, leadership, and training actions for the following tactical considerations and policies:

  • Awareness – consistently checking and rechecking a 360-degree view to read the scene
  • Complacency – understanding the greatest enemy to peace officer safety
  • Facility Security – monitoring unusual behavior inside (front desk or lobby) and outside police facilities (Paso Robles Police Station, California attack)
  • Pulse of the Community – providing updates to civilian and sworn station personnel on recent events that may create an attack at or near the station
  • Site Protection – review current inner and outer safety defenses
  • Tactical Considerations – to have a plan to avoid and escape ambush incidents
  • Use of Force Options – reviewing deadly force considerations and policies for shooting at or from a moving vehicle
  • Visible Presence – directing agency personnel to conduct frequent patrol and visual checks when arriving and leaving the station, including a perimeter patrol pattern

This information is not inclusive of all best practices and safeguards. The FBI research publication titled: Ambushes and Provoked Attacks [3] provides insights based on incidents, and subsequent interviews with offenders and officers involved various types of deadly assaults. The goal is to foster discussion and protect community members and peace officers during these dangerous, demanding, and difficult times.


[1] June 12, 2020, KCAL 9, Santa Clarita, newscast and article: LA County Sheriff’s Deputy OK After Being Struck, Dragged By SUV In Santa Clarita; Suspects At Large, https://losangeles.cbslocal.com/2020/06/12/la-county-sheriffs-deputy-struck-dragged-by-car-in-santa-clarita/

[2] June 10, 2020: Simmons, L., newscast and article: You guys knew you had this coming”: Prosecutor charges homeless man for assault on Springfield officer, https://www.ky3.com/content/news/You-guys-knew-you-had-this-coming-Prosecutor-charges-homeless-man-for-assault-on-Springfield-office-571159151.html

[3] August 15, 2019,  FBI Report: Ambushes and Unprovoked Attacks on Law Enforcement Officers, https://publicintelligence.net/fbi-ambushes-unprovoked-attacks/