Police Use of Force

By John Farnam

A law enforcement sniper team prepares but are they really ready?
A law enforcement sniper team prepares but are they really ready?
Defense Training International, Inc
Defense Training International, Inc

Ft Collins, CO –-(Ammoland.com)- “Delay in the use of force, and hesitation to accept responsibility for its employment when the situation clearly demands it, will always be interpreted as weakness. Such indecision will encourage further disorder, and will eventually necessitate measures more severe than those which would have sufficed in the first instance.” ~ United States Marine Corps Small Wars Manual, (1940)

From a good friend and Chief of Police of a medium-sized department:

“One of our officers, along with officers from a nearby department, plus two county deputies, responded recently to a desperate call from a frightened wife.”

She indicated that her estranged husband was at home alone and had just shot all the family’s pets (dogs, cats, at least one horse). She said he had talked of suicide for some time. She had fled the house in a panic!

When officers converged on the rural location, they were greeted by a single male strutting about his front lawn, dressed in a T-shirt and jeans, and waving a Kalashnikov rifle in the air. The rifle had a thirty-round magazine, inserted. In his other hand the suspect was holding an large, autoloading pistol. A second pistol was clearly visible, stuffed into his waistband.

Upon seeing our police officers, the suspect shouted, repeatedly, that he was going to kill them all. His verbal threats continued for nearly five minutes! At one point, dash-cam video from a beat-car clearly showed the suspect within arm’s reach of at least one of our officers.

Our officers responded by (correctly) producing rifles and pistols, taking cover behind vehicles, and thus confronting the suspect at gunpoint. Yet, not one took further action, save endlessly commanding the suspect to drop his weapons. All such commands were contemptuously ignored.

Finally, one officer deployed his Taser. It took three ‘rides’ on the Taser before officers were able to get control of the suspect’s known weapons.

No shots fired. No one hurt. No headlines.

The suspect was eventually transported to a local hospital, but died (cause unknown) eleven hours later.

When I subsequently asked my officer why he didn’t shoot when threatened at close range by this heavily-armed suspect who clearly told our officer of his intent to murder him, my officer said:

‘I wasn’t sure he was an imminent threat.’

I then reminded him of his intense training with regard to action/reaction. He replied,

“Oh, I forgot about that…’

He then went on to say that he, and his colleagues, were all reluctant to shoot, because of all the negative publicity lately with regard to police use of deadly force.

I then nearly lost it, saying,

‘Son, that suspect may have been suicidal, but you were too- by choice! You were in the process of committing suicide by continually exposing yourself to an extreme, deadly threat while taking no action, save politely asking him to drop his gun(s)!’ When you’re unwilling to defend yourself with gunfire, when gunfire is clearly indicated, then you never should have been hired in the first place, and you need to get out of this business now!’

I continued,

‘You’re alive and unhurt this moment, through no fault of your own! You allowed that suspect to have complete control of a lethal situation for five long minutes. He could have casually murdered you any moment he wished, and you would have died in simultaneous amazement and denial. Then, imagine me having to tell all this to your widow and your parents!’

… and you thought being chief was an easy job!”

Comment: The foregoing represents a pernicious disease infecting all of the American law-enforcement community. The problem is not that we’re shooting too many people. The problem is that we’re not shooting nearly enough!

The result is dead cops. Cops who hesitated too long. Cops who gave the suspect too much of an edge. Cops who were hired, educated, trained, and equipped, all at great expense, but who never once “thought it through,” until it was too late!

Most of all, cops who are terrorized by the prospect of a shooting aftermath in which they will enjoy neither support nor backing from their department, nor from the community they serve, being “thrown to the wolves” by a cynical administration who knows they can “always hire more.”

“No amount nor type of training can substitute for personal experience, but training can provide a level of ability that will allow you to live through your first ‘experience.’

Yet, you must bring your own courage, determination, and audacity, which you either have or you don’t.” ~ Newman


About John Farnam & Defense Training International, Inc
As a defensive weapons and tactics instructor John Farnam will urge you, based on your own beliefs, to make up your mind in advance as to what you would do when faced with an imminent and unlawful lethal threat. You should, of course, also decide what preparations you should make in advance, if any. Defense Training International wants to make sure that their students fully understand the physical, legal, psychological, and societal consequences of their actions or inactions.

It is our duty to make you aware of certain unpleasant physical realities intrinsic to the Planet Earth. Mr Farnam is happy to be your counselor and advisor. Visit: www.defense-training.com

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As the saying goes, the purpose of the military is kill people and break things. Because that’s what one does in war. Law enforcement should not be treated as a war, nor the public viewed as the enemy.

I’m not at all opposed to the use of deadly force by police officers (just as I’m not opposed to its use by private citizens) when facing a reasonable threat of death or great bodily harm. But officers who exercise caution and discretion in the face of uncertainty, saving the lives of all involved, should be lauded instead of criticized.

Jim Collings

I support the right to keep and bear arms. I am a concealed carry guy myself. What makes me ill however is that the NRA purposefully does not support non-lethal technology and as a consequence, it isn’t developed. You can put someone on his butt and make him drop his weapons with a bean bag just as easily as with a hollow point. The right to keep and bear arms should mean ALL arms. When more than one cop is on site, one should draw lethal and the other a non-lethal weapon. That way if the non-lethal fails for some… Read more »


I really feel like I need to ask a “stupid” question that MOST LEOs, in my experience as a federal officer, do not know or at least do not understand the answer to. What is the purpose of law enforcement? Is it to shoot everyone or anyone that “looks” threatening? I pray to God that is not your answer. Maybe you think the purpose of law enforcement is to lockup the bad guys. No, that is not it either. Although that is very much a major part of the job. Law enforcement is a branch or an extension of government.… Read more »

Jim C.

The 1% don’t pay taxes while the rest of us have to pay our share and thiers also. A foriegn corporation is a “person” but doesn’t have a citizenship so you can’t deport it. Highly educated foriegners can come here and take American jobs and it’s OK because they have a special Visa that lets them do this. Poor folks, on the other hand are illegal immigants. Seeing a trend here?

Point: There’s no such thing as equality amongst men. There never has been.


I agree with you 100%. Perhaps non lethal rounds from a semi auto shotgun could disable somebody who appears to have some mental issues or wants suicide by cop. Sometimes the police my not realize they have to protect the criminal element too.


And the cop haters come out! So basically with the kitchen comment you people are saying you have shown you are not law enforcement, therefore you are too much of a coward to do that job. If that’s the case leave the law enforcing to the professionals and STFU.


This is an example of what should be done. The idiot who said they arent killing enough is a screwball wannabe tyrant. He is the problem if he is spouting this kind of garbage. Maybe its time to consider that people like this are the reason The People as in WE see cops as blood thirsty thugs. Maybe if


Maybe if cops werent trained with this propaganda putting civilians as the enemy and that their lives are less than a cops. Maybe two cops that were executed recently would still be here. Hey I dont really care about it because I cant change policy but its obvious that its only going to get worse because people will only take so much. Soon the police will be no better than enforcers of a third world war lord dictator . You people who made the decision to become cops and swore an Oath to protect and serve and also defend the… Read more »

Big Boy

Unfortunately, the statistics aren’t with the Chief. Murders of police officers (not “otj deaths” which include heart attacks and car crashes) average about 50 per year. Justifiable killings by police average about 400.

The police murder to citizen encounter rate is less than 1 in a million. By one scientific survey, less than 1 in 6.5 million. The odds are greatly IN FAVOR OF the police.

There are dangerous people out there but by focusing on police murders, the cops have “brainwashed” themselves into vastly over playing the threat. Being a female spouse is a much, much more dangerous occupation.


This is just One case, one example. Their job is to protect and serve, so they are to try to diffuse the situation first, from cover, but if they have no choice, then shooting is justified. But, what about all the cases where police shoot innocent law abiding citizens? Some even unarmed, but that shouldn’t matter, as keeping and Bearing arms is a God given right.. It’s those bad cops that are making good cops nervous, and the public on edge.. Not to mention those No Knock home raids, that are completely illegal and gestapo terrorism, unless maybe a hostage… Read more »


The actual verse is: “Caedite eos. Novit enim Dominus gui sunt eius.” or “Kill the all. For the Lord knoewth those that are His own.” by Pope Abbot Citeaux XVII (Arnaud Amalric), August 1209 CE.


The cops were just plain LUCKY on that one any number of them could have been injured or killed, the right response for this situation would have been to open fire on the suspect, put the guy down as he was a threat to everyone that was there. There are times to use force and times when you don’t use force, when a person is holding a high powered rifle and a few hand guns you use what you have and stop the threat. It does mot mean that you have to do a kill shot, but in this case… Read more »


John Farnam is exactly right. All citizens, not just police officers need to have things settled in their minds before they decided to carry a firearm for defense. When the time comes that you must make that decision if it’s not settled in your mind you’ll likely lose!

Norman C Swinehart Jr

I was in Law enforcement for 7.5 yrs and never had to shoot anybody,I had to draw my weapon several times, but never had to use it.. Thank God.


It is better to be tried by 12 than to be buried by 6. Kill them first and let God sort them out.