Sunday, July 19, 2015

Ruger Precision Rifle

For everyone out there that has wanted to try long range precision shooting but did not want the $4000 plus price tag, Ruger has introduced a new entry level rifle that will allow you get started in long range precision shooting for approximately $2000 (rifle and scope).  Overall price will depend on how expensive of a scope you choose.
MSRP is $1399.  Street price should be a couple hundred dollars less.  Add your favorite scope and you are ready to go.  Ruger has put a lot of features into this rifle.  There isn't much else you should need.
The one feature that strikes me is the full adjustability of the stock.  This allows you to fit the rifle to you.  You are not stuck with whatever the factory makes.  Proper fit goes a long way to helping you shoot better.

http://www.ruger.com/micros/rpr/models.html

I just learned about this rifle and have not had a chance to even handle one at the stores.  I did find a review from the guys at Snipers Hide. (www.snipershide.com)  Snipers Hide gives a good overview of the rifle and it's capabilities.  If they say it is good to go, I would believe them.

Here is a link to the Snipers Hide review of the new Ruger Precision Rifle.
http://www.scout.com/military/snipers-hide/story/1564384-the-ruger-precision-rifle-6-5-cm

If you want to try your hand at long range precision shooting this may be the rifle to start with.



-Mez
07/19/2015






Friday, July 17, 2015

THEY MUST FIRST BE PREPARED TO PROTECT THEMSELVES



 
By Jerry Cooper


I have been watching an online video depicting two NYPD officers being assaulted by a mob in Harlem.  The video was published on June 23, 2015, and it appears the actual incident may have taken place on June 19, 2015.  I watched the video over and over, until the effects of my rising blood pressure told me to stop.  The video shows a woman, who has been arrested, struggling with a female officer and trying to unholster the officer’s firearm.  As the video continues, a male subject delivers a pounding to the face of the male officer.  This officer was obviously stunned and can be seen trying to shake off the effects of the strike.  The printed information accompanying the video says the two assailants were eventually taken into custody.  The female officer suffered cuts and scratches, while the male officer was treated for swelling to the face and a cut to his mouth.

In a second separate incident within hours of the first, two Bronx officers were injured when assaulted by a group.  One officer suffered a broken eye socket and a broken nose.  The other officer had his jaw dislocated.

I keep thinking of a statement from “In the Line of Fire:  Violence Against Law Enforcement,” a U. S. Department of Justice publication.  It says, “Law enforcement must recognize that in order to serve and protect the larger community, they must first be prepared to protect themselves . . . “ 

One of the most negligent aspects of training law enforcement in use of force is that we spend so much time telling them what they cannot do, and too little time enlightening them as to what they can do.  Use of force training too often drills into the trainee’s head that as a result of using force they can be sued, be criminally charged, ruin their department’s reputation, be given time off due to a lengthy investigation, become de-certified, receive hostile publicity, and cause their agency to lose accreditations or pay higher insurance premiums.

In teaching use of force legal issues to law enforcement officers, I have endeavored to emphasize what they can do.  I do think it is necessary to discuss case law detailing how officers have engaged in an unconstitutional use of force, but I try to present the subject in light of what can be done.

The Ninth U. S. Circuit Court of Appeals, sitting in San Francisco, is the most liberal circuit court in the country, and historically has the largest percentage of their cases reversed by the U. S. Supreme Court.  (The Fourth U. S. Circuit Court of Appeals, sitting in Richmond, Virginia, has for years been considered the most conservative; however, one of Barack Obama’s campaign promises prior to being elected President was to fill the openings on the Fourth Circuit with liberals, thus completely changing the make-up.  It appears the promise has been fulfilled.)  Liberal Courts of Appeal are usually less favorable to law enforcement than more conservative courts.  To be fair to the Ninth Circuit, however, I have seen some decisions by this court that are very sympathetic towards law enforcement action.  I could be wrong, but I believe the Ninth Circuit, as well as other Federal Circuit Courts and Federal District Courts, has “matured” in its realization that law enforcement is a dangerous and difficult job.  Consider this quote from the Ninth Circuit:

“ . . . Judges should not expect police officers to read United States Reports in their spare time, to study arcane constitutional law treatises, or to analyze Fourth Amendment developments with a law professor’s precision.”

Is it possible that, contrary to the national media’s campaign to show law enforcement officers are out to kill and otherwise deprive citizens of their constitutional rights, police are actually consistently using too little force?  According to the U. S. Bureau of Justice, “. . . In a significant number of incidents, police use lower forms of force than are justified.”

Are police officers at times hesitating way too often before escalating the use of force?  Many studies tend to show this as being the case.  In the law enforcement profession, the fear of being sued is an occupational hazard (del Carmen, 1991).  Job performance may be hindered by a preoccupation with litigation (Breslin, Taylor, and Brodsky, 1986).

It is well established in law that a law enforcement officer has a right to use force, up to and including deadly force, to defend himself or a third person against the use, or attempted use, of deadly force.  What is “deadly force?”  It is force that could result in death or serious injury to a person. 

News Flash:  No one has a constitutional right to disobey a lawful command given by a law enforcement officer.  No one has a right to assault an officer, especially an assault that could result in a serious injury.  No one has the right to attempt to arm themselves with a deadly weapon that under the circumstances could be used against a law enforcement officer.

There is plenty of research data that points to the conclusion that officers are more often guilty of using not enough force rather than too much force. 

I mentioned the Harlem and Bronx incidents only as a prop.  I was not present at the incidents.  I don’t have all the facts.  I have not seen the incident or investigative reports.  I am not insisting “coulda-woulda-shoulda,” but I will ask the question:  Did the officers involved in those incidents have a right to use deadly force against the attackers?  Was their force level too little?  For whatever reason, the officers apparently did not counter deadly force with deadly force; they accomplished their mission using lower levels of force, and under very difficult circumstances that are foreign to most people.  For that, they have my admiration.  I do not desire to “Monday morning quarterback.”  I’m just raising an issue. 

In any use of force incident, there are parallel truths at play: 1) verbal de-escalation should always be the goal in a confrontation between a law enforcement officer and a member of the public; and 2) officers must first be prepared to protect themselves.  There are a lot of gray area in-between circumstances in which force is clearly excessive and in which force is clearly justified.  In fact, most use of force situations falls within this gray area.  The U. S. Supreme Court has said that when there is a gray area, deference must be paid to law enforcement (Saucier v. Katz).  This is something the national media does not want the public to know.

Law enforcement officers cannot protect others until they first protect themselves.

(In bringing up the training issue, in no way am I blaming use of force trainers.  They probably share the least guilt in the push to force law enforcement officers from proactive policing to reactive policing.  I will place the blame where I believe it belongs in a future post.)

Monday, July 6, 2015

When I Suck, I Admit It

I have been intermittently cranky, which could be attributed to a couple of things: 1) I'm female and that just happens, or 2) lack of range time.

Mez, the shooting hubby, told me I needed to take my "pew pew pills" to cure my crankiness. He was right, it had been months since I'd done any shooting and I missed it.

Friday rolled around and I decided to hit the range. I had some unused money on a gift card - just enough to buy 100 rounds of .380 and some range time, so off I went to the range.

I hadn't shot the Glock 42 seriously since May of last year. I knew it had been a while, but I didn't think it had been that long! I shot an entire defensive pistol match with it and did okay. Not spectacular, but okay considering I was using a "mouse gun" and it was the first time I'd had it out of the box.

Because I did okay in the match, I felt fairly confident taking the Baby Glock to the range to run the Dot Torture drill. It's a tough drill, even when I'm in practice.

I sucked. I sucked badly. There are excuses I could make, but why? I'm rusty and I know better. However, since I feel like it's important to share the bad with the good, here are my targets. I completed the drill with both my strong (right) hand and my weak (left) hand. I'm embarrassed to say I did much better weak-handed than strong. (PS - don't bother chastising me for using the term "weak hand"; I say what I mean and I mean weak, as in not strong.)

Right handed

Left-handed
I failed both of these, as I should be able to shoot them clean at 3 yards. It was very tempting to go grab another hundred rounds and go again, but instead I called it a day.

You know, it's true though, a bad day at the range is still better than a good day at work :)

Sunday, June 28, 2015

A Very Righteous Use of Force



By: Jerry Cooper
 
I simply must stop watching TV news.

I am writing just hours after prison escapee David Sweat was shot and captured by New York State Police Sergeant Jay Cook on June 28, 2015 near Constable, New York.  I cannot resist making a few candid comments concerning the event and subsequent news coverage, and the lack thereof.

For those who do not pay attention to any news, David Sweat and Richard Matt are killers who escaped from the Clinton Correctional Facility in New York on June 6, 2015.  Matt was killed by a U. S. Border Patrol officer near Malone, New York on June 26, 2015 when he failed to disarm himself when confronted. 

Neither should have been in prison at the time of their escape; however, the State of New York shamefully does not have the death penalty.  Maybe they will revisit this issue, but I doubt it.  So, both were serving life sentences.  Matt had killed two people, and Sweat savagely killed a deputy sheriff who was on routine patrol at the time, then ran over him to make sure he was dead. 

I saw a news alert banner on my computer screen reflecting that Sweat had been shot and captured.  I immediately ran to the TV and switched on CBS.  Just golf there.  So, I switched to ABC, then to NBC.  As the case with CBS, there was only routine programming.  Surely CNN would have coverage.  They did, but hey, it is CNN, and they might as well have been reporting on a Paris fashion show.  I turned to FOX News.

Julie Banderas was anchoring the news program.  Oh boy.  Bandaras is even worse than Bill O’Reilly when it comes to pontificating about something she has absolutely no knowledge.  Back in 2006, during the early stages of the Duke lacrosse case in which players were falsely accused of rape, Bandaras made an idiot of herself when she tried explaining the legal issues pertaining to the police interviewing the suspects.  I have taught interview and interrogation, including the legal aspects, to many law enforcement officers.  I was embarrassed for Banderas, so I sent her an email with information to try to help her out.  I wasted my time.

Referring back to Matt’s capture a couple of days earlier, Bandaras struggled with the idea that if police shoot to stop the threat, and not to kill, then why was Matt shot in the head three times?  Let me try one more time Julie to give you a little help.  A professional investigation will undoubtedly answer your question in due time.  As for now, let me just throw out three possibilities: 1) in a police shooting, a trained, experienced officer only hits the target about 20% of the time; so, maybe they were shooting at “center mass,” but shot Matt in the head; 2) center mass is the largest part of what you can see, and if Matt was trying to take cover or use concealment, then the head might have been center mass; and 3) as Matt had a shotgun, and if he was aiming the gun at the police, then it is common for the officer’s brain to focus on the threat; the threat in this case would be the shotgun, which he probably would have been near his head while he was taking aim.

Then, referring to Sweat’s capture, Bandaras kept saying how impressed she was that although Sweat had killed a deputy sheriff in the past, the officer who shot Sweat had the presence to simply wound him.  She explained that Sergeant Cook was a firearms instructor and obviously knew where to place the shots in Sweat’s back so as not to injure any organs or other vital body parts.  Now, Julie, not taking away from Sgt. Cook’s abilities, but under what had to be great stress, and using his duty handgun, do you really believe this is what happened?

Thankfully, they finally got Rod Wheeler on the phone to comment.  Wheeler is a former Washington, D.C. homicide detective, and is a brilliant guy.  Wheeler tried to bail Bandaras out.  Wheeler illuminated that if Cook shot Sweat in the back as reported, it was certainly justified so that Sweat would not escape and harm anyone else.

After Wheeler, they connected by phone with Gil Alba, a former NYPD detective.  Alba sent Bandaras into a downward spiral by telling her that officers shoot to kill, not to stop the threat.  Huh?  Now, Bandaras was all confused.  Fortunately, she was replaced as anchor by Harris Faulkner.  An ATF agent, also commenting telephonically, straightened out the mess.  He enlightened everyone by clarifying that officers don’t shoot to wound; they just shoot, and sometimes they wound, and sometimes they kill.

This incident represents the kind of cooperation that should exist between law enforcement and the public.  More than 2500 leads were provided.  On this occasion, I heard no one ranting about demilitarizing the police.

Sweat has killed a deputy sheriff, was convicted of first-degree murder, was sent to prison, escaped, and was then shot twice in the back while trying to further his escape.  Sergeant Cook did what he had to do: shoot Sweat in the back to stop him from making it to a tree line where he might again escape and potentially kill someone else.  Under Tennessee v. Garner, it was a very righteous shooting.



Saturday, June 27, 2015

THE EVOLUTION OF USE OF FORCE TRAINING



By Jerry Cooper


I do not consider myself to be an expert on anything; however, I have developed a certain line of knowledge in specific areas.  One such area of knowledge and skills concerns use of force by law enforcement.  It has been my privilege to have trained thousands in these topics.

I am a certified instructor in subject control.  Subject control is what we in law enforcement for decades called defensive tactics.  For ages, we trained law enforcement officers specifically on how to survive worse-case scenarios.  Such instruction evolved as we realized the need to take control of potentially dangerous situations from early on in an encounter, and not wait until the situation goes south on us.  In every contact, someone is going to be in control; if not the law enforcement officer, it will be the other guy.  We also learned that it is not enough to simply defend ourselves by escaping the assault.  Once we have defended ourselves, what are we going to do next?  Unlike a citizen defending him or herself, a law enforcement officer must still try to control the assailant; therefore, better techniques were needed.   The term “subject control” reflects this change in philosophy and techniques.

In the past 15 or so years my primary focus has been on the legal aspects of use of force, and the science (neurophysiology) involved in the process.  I have presented classroom lectures and employed practical scenario training in these issues.  As a certified firearms training simulator instructor, I have used the most advanced tool available today for training individuals in force assessment.

For those who are not familiar with the law enforcement version of the firearms training simulator, I must point out that the term “firearms” is really a misnomer.  Modern simulators are wonderful tools that allow for instruction in all force options.  The interactive scenarios can provide training in officer presence, verbal commands, physical (hands-on) force, impact weapons, chemical spray, TASER and firearms.  I have used this system to train civilians, military special operators, and of course, law enforcement personnel. 

Many members of civic organizations have asked me to explain how law enforcement officers are trained in use of force.  It has been very rewarding to demonstrate training techniques, especially use of the simulator, to these groups, and give them an opportunity to engage in the training.  The feedback I have received from the individuals who have taken advantage of these opportunities has been inspiring.  When a person is faced with stressful stimulus-response scenarios where split-second decisions have to be made, they come away with a much greater appreciation for what law enforcement officers face during situations that are tense, uncertain and rapidly evolving.   

In recent months, there have been numerous incidents involving the use of force by law enforcement.  Professional investigations have determined or will determine in each case whether the use of force was constitutional.  In the meantime, the national media has used this situation to bash law enforcement.  Many agencies with these simulators are just now learning what I learned many years ago: they can use the simulators to educate people outside of law enforcement regarding what officers face in police-public encounters, especially when a scenario forces the “officer” into a life-threatening encounter.  I’ve seen numerous reports regarding the impact of offering this experience to civilians.

It has been particularly rewarding to present this type of training to members of citizen police/sheriff academies.  Some participants in these classes enroll because of their interest in and support for law enforcement.  Others, however, look at these classes as opportunities to expose agencies in the act of promoting a corrupt police culture.  It is this latter group that usually leaves the simulator training with an entirely different viewpoint.

I have had the pleasure of conducting training for writers taking part in writer police academies.  These people are eager to handle real weapons and learn from scenarios which simulate life-like threats.  The writers get a glimpse of what it is like to suffer a downward spiral of mental and physical functions as their heart rates instantaneously jump to over 145 beats per minute.  Well-known figures within the writing community taking part in my training include such people as Lee Child, Jeffery Deaver and Marcia Clark.

The majority of training I have conducted using the firearms training simulator has been for the benefit of law enforcement personnel from local city and county agencies.  State law enforcement officers have been in my classes, including every sworn officer in the State of North Carolina from one such agency.  Federal officers I have trained primarily came from the U. S. Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) and the National Park Service.  At times, the DEA groups included some military special operators.  Most of the officers attended my instruction as a part of in-service training and basic recruit training.  Armed detention officers and armed security personnel also benefited from the instruction.  At times, I had the opportunity to help evaluate officers who had been removed from active duty temporarily due to being involved in a serious use of force incident.  To be cleared for return to gun-toting duty, some agencies required these individuals to run through a bank of scenarios to determine the reasonableness of their judgment and to ensure that they were not too hesitant or overly eager to use force, especially deadly force. 

I have witnessed the value of what is called “force-on-force” training, whether carried out by using a firearms training simulator, simunitions, or some other practical exercises using role players.  It has been shown that in order to function appropriately under stress, one must train under stress.  Unless you can get a trainee’s heartrate to go over 145 beats per minute in training, then you might be setting the trainee up for failure in the real world. 

Many law enforcement agencies either do not prescribe to what I have presented herein, or claim they just do not have the resources to engage in such training.  As to the latter point, the federal courts have ruled that lack of financial resources does not excuse inadequate use of force training.  The courts have also emphasized that firearms qualification does not constitute use of force training.  So how do so many agencies get by with subpar training?  As with many other issues, there are the caught, and the un-caught.

I can say this with certainty: as for use of force training I provided using the simulator, no one left the training until I was comfortable that his or her judgment was sound, and that their threat response was within the range of conduct the U. S. Supreme Court considers “reasonable” (Graham v. Conner).

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

NEW USE OF FORCE RULING BY THE UNITED STATES SUPREME COURT: KINGSLEY V. HENDRICKSON



By Jerry Cooper

Use of force by law enforcement is a hot-button issue right now.  So, for those who may be interested, the United States Supreme Court issued a very important ruling this month (June 2015); however, unlike the highly publicized street-level law enforcement use of force incidents that have played out over and over on our TV’s to a fever pitch, this ruling (Kingsley v. Hendrickson) addresses the use of force on pretrial detainees.

First, a little history:

Up until 1989, use of force against a person at liberty (i.e., not yet in custody) was considered a 14th Amendment issue.  If you remember your high school civics, then you will recognize the 14th Amendment as the one dealing with what is called “due process.”  In 1989, however, the U. S. Supreme Court changed everything with their ruling in Graham v. Conner.  This is the ruling that created the Objective Reasonableness Standard.  The Supreme Court reasoned that since use of force by law enforcement is not a subjective inquiry into the officer’s state of mind, then the officer’s actions are not a 14th Amendment issue, but rather a 4th Amendment issue.  The 4th Amendment addresses seizures of persons and property.  A 1991 Supreme Court case (California v. Hodari D.) defines “seizure” as either 1) an officer applying actual physical force to a person, or 2) a person submitting to an officer’s “show of authority.”  A use of force, whether lethal or not, is a seizure of a person. 

One thing the national news media has not learned, and does not want to know, is that an officer’s pre-seizure conduct is irrelevant, and as such, is not subject to 4th Amendment scrutiny. 

So, as of 1989, there were three separate standards for use of force by law enforcement and detention officers.  As discussed above, in the process of seizures, we had the (4th Amendment) Objective Reasonableness Standard. 

In post-arrest, but pre-conviction (i.e., awaiting trial) cases, we had the (14th Amendment) “Shocks the Conscience Standard.”  This standard required complainants to prove more than objective reasonableness.  Plaintiffs must show that force was used maliciously and sadistically to cause harm; it required the courts to look into the officer’s subjective state of mind.   The Supreme Court allowed the various U. S. Circuit Courts of Appeal much flexibility in passing judgment in these cases.

And finally, there was the post-conviction Cruel and Unusual Punishment Standard of the 8th Amendment in which the petitioner had to prove obduracy and wanton infliction of pain.

As of this month, the post-arrest/pre-conviction Shocks the Conscience Standard of the 14th Amendment no longer exist.  Use of force against these pretrial detainees now falls under the (4th Amendment) Objective Reasonableness Standard.  This ruling in effect raises the reasonableness-bar for law enforcement and detention personnel when using force against pretrial detainees.

The lawsuit resulting in the Court’s decision stemmed from an incident in which Michael Kingsley was awaiting trial.  Kingsley had placed a piece of paper over a light fixture in his cell.  Detention officers pleaded with Kingsley for hours to remove the paper, but Kingsley refused.  Finally, detention officers and a deputy sheriff entered Kingsley’s cell and ordered him to stand and put his hands behind his back so they could handcuff him and move him to a different location.  Kingsley refused, so the officers forcibly handcuffed him and removed him from his cell.  After being moved to another cell, Kingsley then refused to let the officers remove the handcuffs.  Officer Hendrickson directed another officer to TASER Kingsley.  The officer then touched the TASER to Kingsley for the usual five-second TASER cycle.  Officers were then able to remove the handcuffs.  Kingsley filed a lawsuit alleging that the force was excessive.  In this case, the Federal District Court judge, and then the U. S. Court of Appeals for the 7th Circuit applied the (8th Amendment) Cruel and Unusual Punishment Standard, and both courts ruled in favor of the officers.

When this case reached the U.  S. Supreme Court, however, the Court took away the post-arrest/pre-conviction discretion of the U. S. District and U. S. Courts of Appeal in such matters.  The Court held that a pretrial detainee does not have to prove the defendant officer’s subjective state of mind, but need only prove that the use of force was objectively unreasonable as per Graham v. Conner. 

As circumstances in detention facilities are different from those encountered by law enforcement officers on the street, the Court expanded what is known as the “Graham factors” for these situations.  The Court wrote: “Considerations such as the following may bear on the reasonableness or unreasonableness of the force used:  the relationship between the need for the use of force and the amount of force used; the extent of the plaintiff’s injury; any effort made by the officer to temper or to limit the amount of force; the severity of the security problem at issue; the treat reasonably perceived by the officer; and whether the plaintiff was actively resisting.”

Use of force involving convicted prisoners continues to fall under the 8th Amendment’s Cruel and Unusual Punishment analysis.