Lessons Learned: Incidents of Civil Disobedience

June 21, 2020

| We must understand the significant lessons learned from previous civil unrest.  Policing needs to be effective, safe, and vigilant while protecting and respecting the dignity and rights of the people we serve.  Leadership and training efforts must assure that peace officers get adequate rest, constant support, proper field direction on the use of force, reality-based training, and sufficient modern equipment. When law enforcement officers recognize pre-assaultive behaviors, this essential safety skill set may prevent injuries and safeguard lives. The article referenced below, The Tipping Point to Chaos [1], addresses the current pandemic situation coupled with mass unemployment and perception of police misconduct causing demands for social justice.

Why should I review this information?

There are four reports referenced in the resources for the referenced article based on after action analysis following major events which occurred in Maryland, Missouri, California, and Washington. Consideration should be given to a review of the findings within these reports through the lessons learned and recommendations. This critical information can then be compared to current department guidelines, policies, tactical procedures, and training to determine best practices and relevancy.  We offer these after-action reports as insight for further discussion to enhance effectiveness and decision-making, including public and officer safety.


[1] Wemmer, R. & Young, M., The Tipping Point to Chaos, lawofficer.com, June 19, 2020, https://www.lawofficer.com/the-tipping-point-to-chaos/


Ambush Attacks Using Vehicles Upon LEOs

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/



June 7, 2020

| “Ethics stands as a preface to the mission and commitment law enforcement agencies make to the public they serve”

Law Enforcement Code of Ethics

“As a law enforcement officer, my fundamental duty is to serve the community; to safeguard lives and property; to protect the innocent against deception, the weak against oppression or intimidation and the peaceful against violence or disorder; and to respect the constitutional rights of all to liberty, equality, and justice.

I will keep my private life unsullied as an example to all and will behave in a manner that does not bring discredit to me or to my agency. I will maintain courageous calm in the face of danger, scorn, or ridicule; develop self-restraint; and be constantly mindful of the welfare of others. Honest in thought and deed both in my personal and official life, I will be exemplary in obeying the law and the regulations of my department. Whatever I see or hear of a confidential nature or that is confided to me in my official capacity will be kept ever secret unless revelation is necessary in the performance of my duty. 

I will never act officiously or permit personal feelings, prejudices, political beliefs, aspirations, animosities, or friendships to influence my decisions. With no compromise for crime and with relentless prosecution of criminals, I will enforce the law courteously and appropriately without fear or favor, malice, or ill will, never employing unnecessary force or violence and never accepting gratuities.

I recognize the badge of my office as a symbol of public faith, and I accept it as a public trust to be held so long as I am true to the ethics of police service. I will never engage in acts of corruption or bribery, nor will I condone such acts by other police officers. I will cooperate with all legally authorized agencies and their representatives in the pursuit of justice.

I know that I alone am responsible for my own standard of professional performance and will take every reasonable opportunity to enhance and improve my level of knowledge and competence.

I will constantly strive to achieve these objectives and ideals, dedicating myself before God to my chosen profession… law enforcement.”

-Adopted by the International Association of Chiefs of Police in 1957

Why should I periodically review the Law Enforcement Code of Ethics?

During the past weeks, law enforcement officers have faced exceedingly dangerous, demanding, and difficult policing challenges.  As we continue to protect and serve in the highest standards of our profession, it is always important that we review our character values, code of ethics, and commitment to integrity and respect, reminding ourselves to not commit or condone police misconduct.

Source: https://www.theiacp.org/resources/law-enforcement-code-of-ethics


Pre-assaultive Behavioral & Physiological Cues

May 31, 2020

| Recognizing pre-assaultive indicators can stop attacks, avoid injuries, and prevent deaths.  Law enforcement professionals have learned through experiences and lessons from others a variety of behaviors which occur preceding an attack, based on a multitude of circumstances.

Pre-assaultive Indicators

To significantly enhance officer safety during any policing encounter, the effective recognition of criminal behavior and pre-assaultive cues is based on the peace officer’s abilities to read the scene (RTS) and react to my presence (RTMP). Officer safety skills are perishable and diminish over time without ongoing learning and practice. Peace officers must strive to correctly interpret a single act or a combination of behavioral and physiological cues that indicate the probability of a crime or an attack.  The following is a non-inclusive list of pre-assaultive indicators meant to be thought-provoking for on and off-duty law enforcement activities:

  • Behaviors: aggressive or threatening demeanor, argumentative, contempt, distrust, hate, hostility, non-compliance, non-congruence with communication, and spitting
  • Body language: bladed, defensive, fighting stance, clenched fists, clothing removal, defensive posture, and exaggerated moving or stretching limbs
  • Communications – nonverbal and verbal: gestures, hand signs, signals, and threatening statements with a lack of reverence for human life
  • Emotions: anger, despair, fear, sadness, and suicidal
  • Head/facial movements: animated gestures, blank stare, clenching the jaw, and scanning the area
  • Physical positioning: closing the distance, moving to cover, seeking a position of advantage, and triangulating
  • Physiological cues: breathing changes, elevated pulse, and sweating

Why should I read this article?

The coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in 2020 has caused a behavior shift throughout society. The wearing of personal protective equipment (PPE) may create a greater risk to law enforcement when identifying pre-assaultive behaviors of an offender, while mitigating risks for everyone wearing PPE. The following article is designed to be thought-provoking for law enforcement officers, trainers, and supervisors in discussing experiences and recognizing pre-assault indicators.

Link to article: https://www.lawofficer.com/invisible-threat/


Mindset and Behavior Study

May 24, 2020

| The FBI’s 2016 The Assailant Study (Mindsets and Behaviors) examined 50 incidents involving attacks against law enforcement where peace officers were killed. Originally, there were 53 incidents considered with 64-officers killed. Their conclusions identified common trends as well as two primary contributing factors:

“The common trends identified were (1) the expressed desire to kill law enforcement, and (2) the desire to remain free. The contributing factors identified were (1) the singular narrative that portrays the officer involved as guilty in traditional and social media and the subject as the victim, and (2) the recent criminal justice reform initiatives that reduce prosecutions and incarceration of criminals, specifically drug offenders, which has the effect of putting criminals back on the street with an attitude of ‘beating the system'”.

Why should I read this article?

The findings in this study are extremely relevant for law enforcement personnel.  Most important is the recognition of behavioral possibilities when a peace officer encounters or stops someone.  The officer’s ability to read the scene and understand how the person is reacting to police presence may provide a significant mental awareness and edge in securing a better position of advantage to prevent an attack.  The detection and reaction to these behavioral danger signs may be the difference between a safe resolution or a serious incident involving bodily injury or death.

Source: FBI The Assailant Study 2016