Center Mass

Posted: Nov 25, 2014 12:01 AM

Never one to shy away from controversy, extreme liberal and noted anti-gun activist Rosie O’Donnell, host of the daytime TV show ‘The View’, recently discussed the Michael Brown case out of Ferguson, Missouri. Ms. O’Donnell was outraged that the Ferguson teenager was shot six times by Police Officer Darren Wilson, one being a fatal shot to the head. O’Donnell said, “I as an American feel it’s very wrong to shoot unarmed teenagers six times, once in the head”.

This might be a good time to educate Ms. O’Donnell so that she has an understanding of how police officers do their job, of the challenges they face including the challenge of often times having to make a split second decision which may involve when and whether to take a human life. Perhaps we can help her understand how they are trained in the use of force in general, and the use of firearms and deadly force in particular. This training and these split second decisions are not something police departments, or individual police officers take lightly. It certainly appears that Rosie has very little understanding of how police do their job, and she could benefit herself from some ‘police training’ considering her proclivity to ‘shoot from the lip’.

The first thing Rosie needs to understand is that police officers nowadays receive an extensive amount of training that continues throughout their careers. On top of the initial training they receive during their time in the police academy, officers undergo continual ‘In-Service Training’ on a variety of subjects. Firearms training being a large part of the vigorous training programs that most police agencies from larger metropolitan areas require their officers to attend.

It’s common nowadays for ‘combat shooting’ and ‘shoot-don’t shoot’ training to be a focal point of a department’s firearms training program. Police agencies are well aware of the need for officers to be better trained in the use of firearms that will serve them well in the types of situations they may encounter on the street. But they are also concerned about making better decisions, specifically making the proper decision when involved in a potential life and death struggle.

Specific instruction is given to police in the ‘Use of Force Continuum’, which progresses from simply having an officer’s physical presence, right up to the use of deadly force. The Force Continuum involves a several step process which includes Physical presence, Verbal commands, Empty-hand submission techniques, PPCT - Pressure Point Control Tactics, Intermediate Weapons (e.g. baton, pepper spray, Taser, beanbag rounds, Mace (spray), etc.), and eventually Lethal force.

Unfortunately police officers often times find themselves in situations where circumstances cause the police officer to jump right from ‘physical presence’ to ‘lethal force’ in an instant, skipping all the other steps along the way. These are the types of decisions police officers are faced with on a daily basis. Decisions most citizens, including Rosie never have to make.

But specifically how are police officers taught to use deadly force when they are placed in a deadly force situation? Are they taught to aim for teenagers heads when they discharge their firearms? Is that a tactic that is taught by firearms instructors to teach the officers to quickly kill a threatening individual? After all, what better way to kill someone than to shoot them in the head?

In reality police officers are taught to ‘aim for center mass’, basically the torso area of the person they are trying to stop. Why? Because it presents the largest target giving the officer the best opportunity to hit who they’re aiming at. Most of the important organs of a person’s body are located in the torso, which also can quickly incapacitate a person and bring the incident to a swift end. Much less training is given to officers for ‘head shots’, since a person’s head is a small target and much more difficult to hit. Particularly in a highly stressed situation. Studies have shown that police officers are known to experience ‘tunnel vision’ and other psychological and physiological effects that impair their vision and sometimes judgment when faced with a life and death situation.

Police officers are also instructed to fire their weapons and continue firing until the threat ends. They don’t teach police officers to fire once, stop and assess the situation, resume firing, stop and assess, and then fire again. Sometimes a person can withstand being shot numerous times and still continue their attack. Since it’s also a proven fact that a person can close a large distance to a police officer in a matter of a second or two, much less time than it takes for an officer to draw his weapon and fire, officers have to make quick decisions on how to respond and with how much force. And how much firepower to use.

Since the 1997 North Hollywood bank robbery shootout between police and two heavily armed suspects wearing body armor, police started to receive some additional ‘small target’ marksmanship training, since a ‘head shot’ could have brought that incident swiftly to an end instead of the prolonged gun battle that took place.

Only Officer Darren Wilson now knows exactly what occurred on the Ferguson street the day he encountered Michael Brown. His decision to use deadly force against the teenager clearly wasn’t something he took lightly. It’s a decision he has had to live with, and will live with for the rest of his life. But one thing is for certain, when he decided to use deadly force against Michael Brown as he was being charged by the teenager after earlier struggling with him for control of his gun, Officer Wilson wasn’t aiming for the teenager’s head.

Factoring in all the psychological and physiological effects of a highly stressful situation, Officer Wilson’s firearms training would have kicked in and he would have pointed his weapon and quickly took aim at ‘center mass’. The fact that Michael Brown was struck in the head with a fatal shot simply means that Michael Brown’s head got in the way of a bullet aimed and fired at his torso. As Officer Darren Wilson would have been taught to do.

So sorry Rosie, Michael Brown wasn’t executed by Officer Darren Wilson. Michael Brown committed a crime and then attacked a police officer who tried to arrest him. What happened to Michael Brown can be directly correlated to the destruction and dysfunction of the black community as a result of sixty years of liberal policies. Policies supported and espoused by people like you.