What Does This Tell You About Police Handgun Tactics?

BY Herschel Smith
6 years, 9 months ago

Honestly, I enjoy shooting handguns more than I do long guns, except distance shooting with bolties and glass.  What I know about handgun tactics and techniques I have learned from the NRA, my oldest son Joshua who worked security at some very rough places, my youngest son Daniel (who despite not having had much handgun training in the Marine Corps, still had some), reddit/r/guns, gun forums, range rules for the many ranges at which I’ve shot, YouTube videos with Jerry Miculek, Travis Haley, Chris Costa, Hickok45 and others, and years and years of doing it and seeing what works and what doesn’t, and what’s safe and what isn’t.  This is something I would never do unless I was in the process of discharging my weapon (and by that I mean I’m in process, and the process is going to be completed because my life is in danger, as opposed to preparing to do it or stand down depending upon the circumstances). [As a sidebar, Daniel jaw-jacked a USMC officer when he was in the Corps when an idiot officer muzzle flagged others with his finger on the trigger, Daniel being range officer that particular day.  Daniel, a Lance Corporal, was supported by other officers for doing what he did and ended the day with accolades – the officer, not so much].

The Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department’s recent transition to a new handgun for deputies has coincided with a sharp increase in accidental shootings, “putting officers and the public at risk,” according to a newly released report.

Despite efforts to address the problem, the risk associated with the new Smith & Wesson M&P 9mm “remains substantial,” according to the report by Los Angeles County Inspector General Max Huntsman.

“There is a continued risk that either LASD employees or civilians may be seriously wounded or killed by an unintended discharge,” Huntsman wrote.

He said further study and steps to mitigate the problem are needed “before a tragedy occurs.”

A handful of deputies have been injured in accidental shootings in recent years, according to the report. No suspects or bystanders have been hurt in the incidents.

The report, an advance copy of which was obtained by CNN, found that a sheriff’s department training program for deputies converting to the new gun is inadequate.

“We conclude that the current training program is insufficient to overcome old habits learned on other handguns,” the 52-page report states. “As a result, many deputies appear to be to undertrained for the weapon they are using.”

Assistant Sheriff Todd Rogers, a top aide to Sheriff Jim McDonnell, said in an interview Wednesday that department officials had noted the trend with accidental discharges associated with the gun prior to the IG’s report and independently took steps to address the problem.

“We welcome the IG’s input as to some things we can do better,” Rogers said, “but we saw this coming before any outside pressure caused us to respond.”

Rogers noted that accidents were down so far this year, which he attributed to the department’s efforts to mitigate the problem.

The department went to the new gun, in part, because it is easier to handle and easier to shoot accurately, particularly for people with small hands. The gun comes with a smaller grip and requires significantly less pressure to pull the trigger than the Beretta 9mm that had been standard issue in the sheriff’s department for years.

The LASD began issuing the Smith & Wesson to all new recruits going through the academy beginning in 2013. Veteran deputies were allowed to transition to the gun if they took an eight-hour training course. The department has since issued about 6,100 of the handguns to its deputies.

The IG found that “as soon as widespread use of the new gun by field deputies commenced, there was a marked increase in tactical unintended discharges — that is, deputies firing weapons without intending to do so during police operations.”

In 2014, “after substantial adoption of the new weapon in patrol settings,” the report noted, accidental discharges in the field shot up by more than 500% — from three in 2012 to 19.

Sixteen of the accidents involved deputies armed with handguns, the report found. Fifteen of those were carrying the Smith & Wesson.

So far in 2015, LASD deputies have been involved in 18 such shootings; 14 involved the Smith & Wesson, according to the report.

That figure is down from the dramatic increase in 2014, but still represents a 61% rise from the year before the gun was introduced, Huntsman’s report states.

The IG’s review found several factors that “apparently contributed” to accidents with the gun since its introduction:

–The weapon lacks an external safety;

–It’s more sensitive than the Beretta;

–And a light mounted to the gun and activated by deputies squeezing a pressure switch on the handle has led to confusion in some incidents, with “a significant number of deputies reporting that they unintentionally pulled the trigger of their weapon when they intended only to turn on the light.”

We’ve dealt with weapon-mounted lights before, noting that the real problem isn’t a switch or trigger for the light, but officers thinking that they are operating the light rather than the gun.  The solution isn’t to remove the light.

I once was responsible for a relative’s home before we could work on it and sell it – the story is long and too involved to discuss, and it would bore you.  At any rate, I [only one time] used the pistol over forearm with left hand holding the light method to clear the house as I entered.  Here I must tell you that because the house was unoccupied during the week and given the fact that on the weekends I had to do work in the house alone, I cleared the domicile room-to-room the first time I entered the structure on the weekends, and carried a weapon on my person my entire time in the home, often with my Doberman Heidi with me (this is the gun sitting near her, not what I used for room clearing but great gun-porn nonetheless).  Partly this had to do with where the house was located and when I had to do the work, which was mainly at night, but I promised not to tell you the story so I won’t.

I say I used that method only one time.  I will never do it again.  It may look cool in the TV shows, but by the time you’ve done your last room, you’re exhausted.  Only once did I do this.  Then I got a weapon-mounted light.  It worked wonders for my attention to detail.  As I said above, the solution isn’t to jettison the weapon-mounted light.  It’s to train and ensure you don’t make the kind of errors that cops are making with weapon-mounted lights.  With my time in that house, it’s likely that I’ve had more time in training than most cops doing that drill, and I’m a nobody.

So leaving aside the issue of weapon-mounted lights, what does the report tell you about police handgun tactics, techniques and procedures (TTP)?  Note well.  This isn’t a cop-bashing post.  This is intended to elicit thought and pondering and mental labor concerning what cops in that neck of the woods are being taught versus how you [hopefully] are practicing handgun tactics.

Think about this.  A handgun is being blamed because of a light trigger pull, while doing police work.  Be educated.  Ponder on this a bit.  What does this tell you versus what you should be doing and how you should be training?  And ponder the fact that the first shot you will ever fire in self defense will probably be from a handgun.

Prior: Gun-Mounted Flashlights Linked To Accidental Shootings

Trackbacks & Pingbacks


  1. On December 18, 2015 at 10:15 am, GenEarly said:

    What does it tell me? “Keep your dumb ass finger off the twigger, until….”
    S&W, M&P is a fantastic moderate priced handgun.

  2. On December 18, 2015 at 10:29 am, Blake said:

    Gad, I hate to think what would happen if these cops were issued decent 1911’s, what with the little to no trigger takeup and the pretty much standard 4 to 5 lb trigger pull.

  3. On December 18, 2015 at 11:03 am, Steven said:

    I’m inclined to put the blame on whoever did the specifications on the original contract. My current carry handgun is a S&W Military & Police 9mm, and it is equipped with an ambidextrous external safety. The manufacturer can provide what the customer requests, especially for a big, high-profile customer like the LA Sherriff’s Department.
    Yes their training program is somewhat lacking, but if they aren’t going to train, then they need to think about what the equipment is going to do in untrained hands.

  4. On December 18, 2015 at 1:49 pm, Archer said:

    Next paragraph: Adding to the problem was some deputies violating a basic firearms safety rule by placing their finger on the trigger prior to making the conscious decision to fire, the report states.

    First thing, I’m amazed CNN bothered to educate itself on basic firearms safety rules!

    Second thing, booger-hook-on-bang-switch dramatically increases the probability of an “accidental” discharge, and it has precisely nothing to do with the gun, the gun’s trigger sensitivity, or the presence (or absence) of weapon-mounted lights. We can debate over whether at that point the discharge is accidental or negligent, but the point stands.

    A heavier trigger pull might mitigate the risk somewhat, but if you’re depending on your equipment to keep you (and those around you) safe instead of your brain, you’re doing it wrong.

  5. On December 18, 2015 at 1:51 pm, Frogdaddy said:

    Why doesn’t CNN mention this nugget and why the need for the change to begin with?

    “In 2009, outside
    consultants, the Landy Litigation Group, concluded that the size of the Beretta had
    a disproportionate impact on female recruits’ ability to successfully complete
    firearms training and recommended that the LASD move away from the Beretta.”

  6. On December 20, 2015 at 1:02 pm, DAN III said:

    “….the Landy Litigation Group, concluded that the size of the Beretta had
    a disproportionate impact on female recruits’ ability….”

    Social Justice. And now it has been implemented into the United States Army.

    What remains of this once great nation is in deep dung.

  7. On December 18, 2015 at 4:40 pm, Sandydog said:

    There are several different ways to use a small (or large, for that matter) flashlight in conjunction with a handgun to provide off-hand support if the gun doesn’t have an onboard light, from the days when such things weren’t available for handguns. They work well. Good agencies that have gun-mounted lights still demand that their officers have an independent light, to prevent their officers from using their guns to ‘search’.
    A gun-mounted light is a convenience when the gun is on a target, but not much use otherwise; Having a light also doesn’t change the operating system for the gun.
    Before Glocks and Glock copies, officers carrying ‘traditional’ DA/SA autos with safeties (such as early S&Ws and Berettas) weren’t trained to carry their guns with the safeties engaged; Everyone relied on the long, crunchy 12lb first-shot DA trigger pulls as additional ‘safeties,’ and didn’t pay much attention to finger-off-trigger instruction. Now, with Glock systems everywhere, there obviously isn’t enough training done to embed the necessity of finger-off-trigger to the extent that a 5.5lb trigger pull requires. Throwing in a weapon-mounted light and its switch clearly requires just that much more training time.
    If officers are trained properly, and not just given an 8-hour ‘transition’ course and a ‘qualification,’ Glock-type systems are just as safe as any other. Once again, ineffective and slipshod training leads to failure in the field.

RSS feed for comments on this post. TrackBack URL

Leave a comment

You are currently reading "What Does This Tell You About Police Handgun Tactics?", entry #14461 on The Captain's Journal.

This article is filed under the category(s) Firearms,Guns and was published December 18th, 2015 by Herschel Smith.

If you're interested in what else the The Captain's Journal has to say, you might try thumbing through the archives and visiting the main index, or; perhaps you would like to learn more about TCJ.

26th MEU (10)
Abu Muqawama (12)
ACOG (2)
ACOGs (1)
Afghan National Army (36)
Afghan National Police (17)
Afghanistan (704)
Afghanistan SOFA (4)
Agriculture in COIN (3)
AGW (1)
Air Force (40)
Air Power (10)
al Qaeda (83)
Ali al-Sistani (1)
America (22)
Ammunition (211)
Animals (181)
Ansar al Sunna (15)
Anthropology (3)
Antonin Scalia (1)
AR-15s (339)
Arghandab River Valley (1)
Arlington Cemetery (2)
Army (81)
Assassinations (2)
Assault Weapon Ban (27)
Australian Army (7)
Azerbaijan (4)
Backpacking (2)
Badr Organization (8)
Baitullah Mehsud (21)
Basra (17)
BATFE (151)
Battle of Bari Alai (2)
Battle of Wanat (18)
Battle Space Weight (3)
Bin Laden (7)
Blogroll (3)
Blogs (24)
Body Armor (23)
Books (3)
Border War (17)
Brady Campaign (1)
Britain (38)
British Army (35)
Camping (4)
Canada (16)
Castle Doctrine (1)
Caucasus (6)
Center For a New American Security (8)
Charity (3)
China (16)
Christmas (13)
CIA (29)
Civilian National Security Force (3)
Col. Gian Gentile (9)
Combat Outposts (3)
Combat Video (2)
Concerned Citizens (6)
Constabulary Actions (3)
Coolness Factor (3)
COP Keating (4)
Corruption in COIN (4)
Council on Foreign Relations (1)
Counterinsurgency (218)
DADT (2)
David Rohde (1)
Defense Contractors (2)
Department of Defense (200)
Department of Homeland Security (26)
Disaster Preparedness (5)
Distributed Operations (5)
Dogs (12)
Donald Trump (27)
Drone Campaign (3)
EFV (3)
Egypt (12)
El Salvador (1)
Embassy Security (1)
Enemy Spotters (1)
Expeditionary Warfare (17)
F-22 (2)
F-35 (1)
Fallujah (17)
Far East (3)
Fathers and Sons (2)
Favorite (1)
Fazlullah (3)
FBI (33)
Featured (187)
Federal Firearms Laws (18)
Financing the Taliban (2)
Firearms (1,586)
Football (1)
Force Projection (35)
Force Protection (4)
Force Transformation (1)
Foreign Policy (27)
Fukushima Reactor Accident (6)
Ganjgal (1)
Garmsir (1)
general (15)
General Amos (1)
General James Mattis (1)
General McChrystal (44)
General McKiernan (6)
General Rodriguez (3)
General Suleimani (9)
Georgia (19)
Google (1)
Gulbuddin Hekmatyar (1)
Gun Control (1,473)
Guns (2,100)
Guns In National Parks (3)
Haditha Roundup (10)
Haiti (2)
Haqqani Network (9)
Hate Mail (8)
Hekmatyar (1)
Heroism (4)
Hezbollah (12)
High Capacity Magazines (16)
High Value Targets (9)
Homecoming (1)
Homeland Security (3)
Horses (2)
Humor (66)
Hunting (2)
ICOS (1)
IEDs (7)
Immigration (98)
India (10)
Infantry (4)
Information Warfare (2)
Infrastructure (3)
Intelligence (23)
Intelligence Bulletin (6)
Iran (171)
Iraq (379)
Iraq SOFA (23)
Islamic Facism (64)
Islamists (95)
Israel (19)
Jaish al Mahdi (21)
Jalalabad (1)
Japan (3)
Jihadists (80)
John Nagl (5)
Joint Intelligence Centers (1)
JRTN (1)
Kabul (1)
Kajaki Dam (1)
Kamdesh (9)
Kandahar (12)
Karachi (7)
Kashmir (2)
Khost Province (1)
Khyber (11)
Knife Blogging (5)
Korea (4)
Korengal Valley (3)
Kunar Province (20)
Kurdistan (3)
Language in COIN (5)
Language in Statecraft (1)
Language Interpreters (2)
Lashkar-e-Taiba (2)
Law Enforcement (5)
Lawfare (7)
Leadership (6)
Lebanon (6)
Leon Panetta (2)
Let Them Fight (2)
Libya (14)
Lines of Effort (3)
Littoral Combat (8)
Logistics (50)
Long Guns (1)
Lt. Col. Allen West (2)
Marine Corps (273)
Marines in Bakwa (1)
Marines in Helmand (67)
Marjah (4)
Media (62)
Medical (144)
Memorial Day (6)
Mexican Cartels (39)
Mexico (58)
Michael Yon (6)
Micromanaging the Military (7)
Middle East (1)
Military Blogging (26)
Military Contractors (4)
Military Equipment (24)
Militia (6)
Mitt Romney (3)
Monetary Policy (1)
Moqtada al Sadr (2)
Mosul (4)
Mountains (25)
MRAPs (1)
Mullah Baradar (1)
Mullah Fazlullah (1)
Mullah Omar (3)
Musa Qala (4)
Music (25)
Muslim Brotherhood (6)
Nation Building (2)
National Internet IDs (1)
National Rifle Association (87)
NATO (15)
Navy (25)
Navy Corpsman (1)
NCOs (3)
News (1)
NGOs (3)
Nicholas Schmidle (2)
Now Zad (19)
NSA (3)
NSA James L. Jones (6)
Nuclear (61)
Nuristan (8)
Obama Administration (221)
Offshore Balancing (1)
Operation Alljah (7)
Operation Khanjar (14)
Ossetia (7)
Pakistan (165)
Paktya Province (1)
Palestine (5)
Patriotism (7)
Patrolling (1)
Pech River Valley (11)
Personal (70)
Petraeus (14)
Pictures (1)
Piracy (13)
Pistol (2)
Pizzagate (21)
Police (586)
Police in COIN (3)
Policy (15)
Politics (959)
Poppy (2)
PPEs (1)
Prisons in Counterinsurgency (12)
Project Gunrunner (20)
PRTs (1)
Qatar (1)
Quadrennial Defense Review (2)
Quds Force (13)
Quetta Shura (1)
RAND (3)
Recommended Reading (14)
Refueling Tanker (1)
Religion (385)
Religion and Insurgency (19)
Reuters (1)
Rick Perry (4)
Rifles (1)
Roads (4)
Rolling Stone (1)
Ron Paul (1)
ROTC (1)
Rules of Engagement (75)
Rumsfeld (1)
Russia (36)
Sabbatical (1)
Sangin (1)
Saqlawiyah (1)
Satellite Patrols (2)
Saudi Arabia (4)
Scenes from Iraq (1)
Second Amendment (506)
Second Amendment Quick Hits (2)
Secretary Gates (9)
Sharia Law (3)
Shura Ittehad-ul-Mujahiden (1)
SIIC (2)
Sirajuddin Haqqani (1)
Small Wars (72)
Snipers (9)
Sniveling Lackeys (2)
Soft Power (4)
Somalia (8)
Sons of Afghanistan (1)
Sons of Iraq (2)
Special Forces (28)
Squad Rushes (1)
State Department (23)
Statistics (1)
Sunni Insurgency (10)
Support to Infantry Ratio (1)
Supreme Court (34)
Survival (129)
SWAT Raids (57)
Syria (38)
Tactical Drills (2)
Tactical Gear (7)
Taliban (168)
Taliban Massing of Forces (4)
Tarmiyah (1)
TBI (1)
Technology (20)
Tehrik-i-Taliban (78)
Terrain in Combat (1)
Terrorism (95)
Thanksgiving (12)
The Anbar Narrative (23)
The Art of War (5)
The Fallen (1)
The Long War (20)
The Surge (3)
The Wounded (13)
Thomas Barnett (1)
Transnational Insurgencies (5)
Tribes (5)
TSA (24)
TSA Ineptitude (13)
TTPs (4)
U.S. Border Patrol (5)
U.S. Border Security (17)
U.S. Sovereignty (21)
UAVs (2)
UBL (4)
Ukraine (9)
Uncategorized (73)
Universal Background Check (3)
Unrestricted Warfare (4)
USS Iwo Jima (2)
USS San Antonio (1)
Uzbekistan (1)
V-22 Osprey (4)
Veterans (3)
Vietnam (1)
War & Warfare (388)
War & Warfare (40)
War Movies (4)
War Reporting (21)
Wardak Province (1)
Warriors (6)
Waziristan (1)
Weapons and Tactics (76)
West Point (1)
Winter Operations (1)
Women in Combat (21)
WTF? (1)
Yemen (1)

October 2022
September 2022
August 2022
July 2022
June 2022
May 2022
April 2022
March 2022
February 2022
January 2022
December 2021
November 2021
October 2021
September 2021
August 2021
July 2021
June 2021
May 2021
April 2021
March 2021
February 2021
January 2021
December 2020
November 2020
October 2020
September 2020
August 2020
July 2020
June 2020
May 2020
April 2020
March 2020
February 2020
January 2020
December 2019
November 2019
October 2019
September 2019
August 2019
July 2019
June 2019
May 2019
April 2019
March 2019
February 2019
January 2019
December 2018
November 2018
October 2018
September 2018
August 2018
July 2018
June 2018
May 2018
April 2018
March 2018
February 2018
January 2018
December 2017
November 2017
October 2017
September 2017
August 2017
July 2017
June 2017
May 2017
April 2017
March 2017
February 2017
January 2017
December 2016
November 2016
October 2016
September 2016
August 2016
July 2016
June 2016
May 2016
April 2016
March 2016
February 2016
January 2016
December 2015
November 2015
October 2015
September 2015
August 2015
July 2015
June 2015
May 2015
April 2015
March 2015
February 2015
January 2015
December 2014
November 2014
October 2014
September 2014
August 2014
July 2014
June 2014
May 2014
April 2014
March 2014
February 2014
January 2014
December 2013
November 2013
October 2013
September 2013
August 2013
July 2013
June 2013
May 2013
April 2013
March 2013
February 2013
January 2013
December 2012
November 2012
October 2012
September 2012
August 2012
July 2012
June 2012
May 2012
April 2012
March 2012
February 2012
January 2012
December 2011
November 2011
October 2011
September 2011
August 2011
July 2011
June 2011
May 2011
April 2011
March 2011
February 2011
January 2011
December 2010
November 2010
October 2010
September 2010
August 2010
July 2010
June 2010
May 2010
April 2010
March 2010
February 2010
January 2010
December 2009
November 2009
October 2009
September 2009
August 2009
July 2009
June 2009
May 2009
April 2009
March 2009
February 2009
January 2009
December 2008
November 2008
October 2008
September 2008
August 2008
July 2008
June 2008
May 2008
April 2008
March 2008
February 2008
January 2008
December 2007
November 2007
October 2007
September 2007
August 2007
July 2007
June 2007
May 2007
April 2007
March 2007
February 2007
January 2007
December 2006
November 2006
October 2006
September 2006
August 2006
July 2006
June 2006
May 2006

about · archives · contact · register

Copyright © 2006-2022 Captain's Journal. All rights reserved.