Day: January 18, 2015

Entering a Residence

At the time of this writing, a few days have passed since the Sentinel (OK) police chief and several deputies from the Sheriff’s Office went to a residence in response to a bomb threat at a local day care.  It was believed that the threat originated from the residence in question.  The chief and the deputies made entry into and began clearing the house.  A resident of the house opened fire striking the chief four times.  The chief survived due to the fact that he was wearing a ballistic vest.  It should be noted that the entry was made in the very early morning hours.

The Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation has announced that charges are not being brought against the resident who fired the shots.

I have read several articles concerning this incident, and there is one glaring omission in each of them, and that is that no mention is made as to whether or not the peace officers involved had a valid search warrant to enter the residence.

There are four legal means in which to enter a residence.  As outlined in the 2-3-4 Rule, they are: consent, a search warrant, hot pursuit, and exigent circumstances.  It is pretty obvious that they didn’t have consent.  They also didn’t chase anyone into the house; so, there goes the hot pursuit exception.  That leaves only exigent circumstances or a search warrant as legal means of entry.

A simple explanation of exigent circumstance would be a situation in which immediate entry was required in a situation in which there was a immediate risk to life, such as an officer hearing calls for help or officers arriving to a call of domestic violence and hearing what appears to be a violent physical encounter taking place.  In such instances, the circumstances would make it extremely unreasonable for the officers involved to obtain a warrant prior to entry.  For instance, it would be completely unreasonable for peace officers to not enter the scene to stop a stabbing in progress.  Another example would be to prevent evidence destruction.  Readers are encouraged to seek out more information on exigent circumstances beyond this brief attempt at an explanation.

As to the incident at hand, I suppose one could make an argument for exigency; however, I would need much more information than is provided in the various articles.  Does a reported bomb threat for a daycare that was not currently open an occupied constitute exigency?  Was there some information that led the officers on scene to believe that they must enter immediately to save lives or prevent the destruction of evidence?

Again, the information provided in the articles is lacking, and second guessing officers on the scene when not having all of the information they had is not a practice in which I readily engage.  After all, they may have had a warrant with such just not being mentioned in the articles.  I simply saw this as an opportunity to discuss the legal requirements for entering a residence, and this article is by no means intended to imply wrong doing on the part of those involved.

Class Review: Rogers Shooting School

“Reactive shooting is shooting in the target’s time and not the shooter’s time.” –Bill Rogers

The Rogers Shooting School is one of the most prestigious shooting schools in the world. Some of the world’s most elite military and law enforcement units come there each year, and “The Test” is well known among the shooting community. I won’t go into a detailed explanation of The Test. Rather, click here to go to Todd Green’s site for an excellent break down and videos of each stage. A minimum passing score is 70 plates and earns a Basic rating. An Intermediate rating is earned by getting 90 or more plates, and an Advanced rating is earned by getting 110 plates. There are 125 total plates possible in The Test.

Bill Rogers shooting a demo.

During my trip to Rogers, I was witness to a memorable event in shooting history. Now in its third decade of operation only two people had ever shot perfect scores on The Test. The founder, Bill Rogers, has done it twice, and the legendary Rob Leatham has done it once. In my class, two perfect 125s were shot. One was by Gabe White, and the other was by noted USPSA shooter Manny Bragg. If that wasn’t enough, Gabe White did it shooting from concealment.

Gabe White and Manny Bragg

I think the best way to describe Rogers is that it forces the shooter to maintain a strong mental focus. Any lapse leads to a cascading collapse of fundamentals and numerous steel plates taunting you as they drop out of sight.

I am happy to report that I earned an Advanced rating.

Shooting my Advanced run under the watchful eye of Sheriff Ken Campbell

Ken Campbell, Sheriff of Boone County, IN, and an instructor for Gunsite was a student in the class.

Participants in the class came from as far away as Alaska. We also had participants from Colorado, Oregon, Utah, Indiana, California and Florida. We had a full gamut of weather from short and t-shirt weather on Sunday evening followed by rain on Monday and Tuesday to freezing temperatures on Wednesday and a beautiful day on Thursday. We managed to finish on Friday before another round of rain hit.

Thank goodness for propane and propane accessories.

My Response to Competitive Shooters

Late in 2010, I began began to shoot competitively on a regular basis. I am typically shooting two matches per month and sometimes three. A frequent theme that I hear professed or see posted online by competitive shooters is snide references to their perceived lack of accuracy on the part of peace officers when involved in deadly force situations. These statements both amuse and miff me at the same time. This piece is my response to those who have such a mindset as I would like to put some perspective into play.

Truth be told, the percentage of peace officers that are “gun people” is rather low. By “gun people”, I mean those people who actively participate in voluntary training and become true students of the art of shooting. Unfortunately, on a profession-wide basis, the standards for qualification are too low, and too many peace officers are satisfied with turning in a passing score on the range only to not come back to the range until the next mandatory qualification day. Simply put, too many peace officers view qualifying and training (note I make a distinction as they aren’t the same thing) as a necessary evil. Where the competitive shooters make a mistake of logic is that they tend to look at peace officers as a single entity while discounting that the percentage of competitive shooters compared to the proverbial average gun owner is actually quite low as well.

The typical pistol match involves either a set course of fire that is known to the shooters, or the shooters are briefed and get a walkthrough of the stages prior to their run. Competitors know when they go to a match that they will be involved in a shooting activity. Competitors get to pick their firearm and ammunition and all of their equipment within the rules of their respective sport, and said ammunition usually consists of low recoiling loads, and the firearms are often modified. Shooting “non-threat” targets results in a time or points penalty, and the targets don’t shoot back. Contrast all of that with the fact that peace officers are usually get a standard issue firearm with modifications prohibited by the ever present liability fears. The ammunition issued to the peace officer is defense loads designed to stop threats and not simply punch holes in paper, and while we all accept the fact that any call may be the call that erupts into a gunfight, I have yet to read an after action report from a shooting in which a range officer asked the peace officer if they understood the course of fire, if they were ready, and then activated a buzzer to signal that the shooting could commence. Oh yeah, the bad guys do shoot back, and shooting those innocent bystanders and hostages brings a whole host of consequences.

I propose the following: I’ll post a sign up sheet for all of my competitive shooting friends, and sometime between now and in the next 20 years I’ll set up a surprise scenario and spring it on you with no advanced notice or walkthrough. We’ll figure up your score and establish a true baseline for comparing the combat accuracy of peace officers and competitive shooters. It’s only fair, right?