Below is a link to the “Demos” page of the Force Science Institute’s website. While I recommend checking out the rest of their website, as well, this is the page that with a few clicks, illustrates (not argues) why a significant percentage of people shot by law enforcement officers turn out to have been unarmed. It also explains why so many officers who are shot by suspects are dropped before they can fire a shot. And, after you see the figures and play out some corresponding scenarios in your own mind, you may, like me, find yourself wondering why the situation isn’t even worse than has been.
- Click on “Officer Motions,” and then click on some of the stances from which the officers who were tested started. Note that none of these stances involve holstered weapons; all the average and fastest times are based on the officer having his pistol already in hand and fully expecting to fire;
- Keep in mind that these starting positions represent best-case scenarios in terms of an officer’s readiness…if the pistols were holstered, the typical officer would have to disengage/navigate two to three retention/safety devices before “clearing leather,” at which point he or she would then be in roughly the same position as where some of the demos begin. It would be reasonable to add at least half a second to the times;
- Take a good look at the times that were recorded, and perhaps write them down;
- Next, back out of “Officer Motions” and click your way into “Subject Motions.” Check out a few, especially the one with a gun tucked between the driver’s thigh and the car’s console. Note the times;
- Compare and contrast the “Subject” times to the “Officer” times, keeping in mind that the subjects were able to initiate when they were ready, and the officers were, and nearly always are, in a position of having to observe, process, react…and, at least in theory, again observe and process, before deciding whether to pull the trigger. Spoiler alert…if an officer did all that, he or she probably would be incapacitated or dead prior to completing the process;
- Back out of “Subject Motions” and click into “Interactions.” Note that in the time it takes an officer to react to a subject’s sudden movement, the subject can turn almost 180 degrees, meaning that the subject will be shot in the back, without the officer having a realistic opportunity to hold his fire; and
- See if you can figure out what the hell we can do to reduce the risks to both citizens and officer.