September 24, 2010
Whether the situation is personal or tactical, only fools rush in.
Shortly after I took command of a multi-jurisdictional drug task force, I went on a raid with the members of my new unit. Having been on my agency's SWAT team for over a decade, I had a solid understanding of how raids should be executed, so I stood back and watched.
What I saw actually took my breath away. There was no quiet approach to the structure but a fast and noisy vehicle "parade" that screeched to a halt right in front of the target house. All members of the raiding party then bailed out of their vehicles, ran to the porch, formed an impromptu line and battered in the front door.
Once inside, everyone ran through the house screaming "Get the dope! Get the dope!" The suspects in the residence were secondary to securing whatever evidence was there.
As soon as the scene was secured, I had everyone return to the task force office for a debriefing. The first thing that I said was, "Forget the dope! Secure the suspects--the dope will not grow legs!"
The next thing I said was that everyone in the unit would be attending a raid training course. By the time I transferred out, that unit became experts in forced entry and raid execution and could teach the subject anywhere in the country, but in the beginning they were in too much of a hurry. And the fact is, speed kills.
What I call the "swatification" of law enforcement has seemed to work its way into the realm of personal defense as well. These days there is an immense interest in all things special operations-related, and everyone wants to go dynamic at the first opportunity. Please, listen to me on this: Don't do it.
No one should be in a hurry to get shot, and that is exactly what will happen if legally armed citizens get into a hurry and jump into a situation that they are ill-prepared to handle.
According to statistics, a large number of shootings involving armed citizens occur inside their own homes. Someone hears a bump in the night, and the first thing they want to do is grab a gun off the night stand and charge into the dark and confront the intruder.
The thing I would ask is why? Is there anything in your home that is worth dying over? Beyond other members of your family, I can't think of a single thing. If you do have kids or some loved ones whom you need to protect, I will still say, "Go slow."
Many will say something like, "If I don't get there right away, they could be hurt or killed!" Based on my personal experience of searching many a dark building for bad people, I would respond, "If you get killed getting there, you will do them no good."
A proper building search/ room clearing operation is a slow, methodical process that requires training and multiple participants.
If you are thrown into such an exercise by necessity, take the time to stop, look, listen and smell to gather as much information as you can. Hopefully you will have practiced clearing your home enough so that you will know here the hard corners are located.
If you slow down and make use of all your senses, you just might locate your adversary before you see them. How so? Let's say that as you are working your way to your child's room you smell Old Spice but you don't wear that particular cologne. That would be a good indicator, right? Well, if you get in a hurry you will probably miss that nifty little clue.
I know when you feel your loved ones are in danger that going slow might be the hardest thing you will ever do. But the trained person who can keep his or her emotions in check will normally be the victor.
Be safe, be alert and go slow because speed kills.