After police bullets hit bystanders, questions about protocol

After police bullets hit bystanders, questions about protocol

NEW YORK — The encounter was breathtakingly brief: a surveillance video showed a gunman outside the Empire State Building on Friday pulling a pistol, pointing it at two police officers, their firing at him and his falling to the sidewalk.

All the yelling and cries of pain occurred out of camera view, just north of where the gunman, Jeffrey T. Johnson, collapsed and died: nine bystanders were struck, cradling bloody arms or lying on the sidewalks and curbs.

The police commissioner, Raymond W. Kelly, confirmed on Saturday that all nine were wounded by police bullets, bullet fragments or shrapnel from ricochets. Mr. Kelly also confirmed that the shooter, Mr. Johnson, never fired another shot after killing a former co-worker, Steven Ercolino, moments earlier.

“We had a witness that said that Johnson fired at the police,” Mr. Kelly said Saturday. “But the final count of the shells, it appears that that is not the case.”

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After police bullets hit bystanders, questions about protocol

I don’t think you will find anyone that is more PRO-Police and PRO-gun than me.

Many members of my family have been Officers and retired, were Officers and left Law Enforcement for *greener pastures* or are still currently sworn Officers of the Law and I do everything in my power to support them in every way.

I want to see ALL Officers safe, well trained and well equipped, that training and equipment is their 1st line of defense and as they gain experience their instincts will come to serve them well and go a long ways towards keeping them alive.

I am not about to sit here at my desk and try to 2nd guess the actions of these NYPD Officers and their decision to shoot. I wasn’t there, I don’t know what their mindset was at that particular moment and I am NOT about to denigrate these men for making a split-second decision to react to what they obviously perceived as an immediate threat.

As I said, I want to see ALL Officers well trained and well equipped. I don’t know the level or intensity of the NYPD Police training protocol but I do know a lot about the way the NYPD specs their weapons and I firmly believe that the bulk of the fault for NYPD Officers having a less than stellar record where shootings are concerned lies solely with the NYPD Command Staff and Training supervisors.

The NYPD hierarchy specs its Officers sidearms to ridiculous standards. It is NOT the weapon that’s at fault, it’s what the NYPD has done TO the weapons.

Unlike *some* that believe themselves to be *gun hands*, guys that have never worn a badge and carried a gun in the line of duty, or shot at anything more than a paper target, I KNOW what’s involved, I KNOW what it feels like to look down the sights and have to decide in a split second, do I shoot or not?

I am NOT going to denigrate the shooting skills of these Officers given the department guns that are set to ridiculously heavy trigger pulls.

I am not criticizing the Officers of the NYPD, but I will however, criticize the NYPD itself.


New NYPD officers are allowed to select one of three 9mm service pistols configured in double-action only (DAO): the SIG P226 DAO, Smith & Wesson Model 5946, and Glock 19.[28] All are modified to a 12-pound (53 N) trigger pull. SOURCE

If you aren’t aware of what *trigger pull* is, let me offer this; trigger pull is the force measured in pounds that an individual must exert with their index finger as they pull the trigger and fire their weapon, and is one of the most critical factors in firing accurately.

Most off the shelf sidearms that an Officer would carry are factory set at 5 to 7 pounds of trigger pull, with 7 pounds being a bit too heavy for MY taste; I prefer 4 to 5 pounds on my pistols when fired in double action mode.

Some competition shooters have their trigger pulls tuned to 1.5 to 2 pounds, and I have known a few that went to a 1 pound pull. That’s a bit too lite in my opinion, but that’s just me.

A 5 to 6 pound pull gives the shooter enough resistance that accidental discharge is not a strong probability while still allowing the shooter to take a steady aim and fire a shot with great confidence that the shot will go where intended.

A 12 pound trigger pull, as specified by the NYPD, will causes even a highly skilled and well trained and experienced shooter to *pull* a shot, meaning that the force required to pull the trigger actually pulls the pistol off target and causes misses, and in some cases, innocent persons to be shot.

Should the NYPD Officers have fired? It’s not my place to say nor to judge them, but if the NYPD hierarchy would actually take the time to learn about guns, shooting, all of the dynamics that go into placing rounds *ON TARGET*, they would have every pistol on the NYPD re-worked to factory specifications, thus giving their Officers a better and easier to shoot weapon and one that would give New York citizens a better chance of not getting hit by the *stray rounds* that the current weapons cause.

I will say this; IF the NYPD would re-tune the Officers weapons to a friendlier setting and give the Officers ample *range time* to get used to, and proficient with their weapons, should they, the Officers, continue to expend many rounds on the street, not hitting the target, or firing 100 rounds and hitting at about a 15% ratio, then I would look at a new program to train the Officers and a new person to administer that training.

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15 Responses to After police bullets hit bystanders, questions about protocol

  1. Texasperated says:

    Fred you are exactly on regarding the 12 pound trigger pull. Not sure what a man’s forearm would look like to be able to squeeze easy. Popeye maybe?

    Another thing is that the NYPD brass needs to give these men training for the kinds of situations they are likely to encounter on the street. Maybe they do that — I don’t know. But I remember how rare it was “back in the day” to find a unit whose commander let his men spend the amount of time with instant feedback targets, small targets (less than 3″ diameter), and moving targets. It may be different with the police than it was with the military.

    More than just “on target,” we used to train for “same hole” accuracy. When you have a mere instant to make a decision to shoot or not, it’s not the one or two shots you take that make a difference. It’s the hundreds of shots you took before you got there that will make the difference.

    Keep your powder dry

    P.S. This is one area where I think the police unions should step up and INSIST that more $$ be spent on training.

  2. Texasperated says:

    From Buzzfeed:

    In the wake of the 2006 Sean Bell shooting, the NYPD commissioned a study of its firearms training and tactics by the RAND Corporation think-tank. The study was largely positive, but recommended some tactical changes, more individual training time for officers, and more advanced training facilities. According to RAND, there have been no follow-ups to see how the department has improved its training since the study was published in 2008.

    Just FYI

  3. Well it seems that they speculate that the officers may be lacking in training on shooting in a crowd? NYPD is the one dept that receives more training than you would think.

    Listen up. IT IS NOT THE FAULT OF THE OFFICERS PERIOD! It is the fault of the SOB that they shot and killed who was shooting within the crowd at the OFFICERS. Do the OFFICERS not act, if so they are criticized. The OFFICERS took action and STOPPED the threat; they killed the bastard. In the process innocent civilians were injured. Again not the fault of the OFFICERS.

    It’s the DEAD GUYS FAULT. Anyone can sit there and render a decision from behind a desk. Try making a split second decision with lead headed your way taking into consideration there is a crowd, either way, the bad guy is going to shot innocents while trying to kill the OFFICERS. You make the choice and do NOTHING and see what the NYC press will do to you!!! They will tear you apart.

    Unless you have been there I would not criticize.

    Just my opinion.

  4. PatriotUSA says:

    12 Lbs trigger pull is way too heavy for me at least. When I have shot pistols set up like this, my accuracy went downhill and I was pulling to the left and right.

    PERSONALLY, I like my weapons at 4-6 Lbs trigger pull, a couple a bit lighter.

    In my own opinion the police responded as they HAD to and they did no NOT have time to call it in and get the OK to respond.

    LE get thumped either way. If they do not shoot, many more might have been killed or injured and like Right Hand says, see what NY press will do to you. If they do shoot and take out the threat and there is collateral injuries or worse, the LE folks get kicked to the curb for doing their job and following training. There is NO TIME to waste or screw around with your thoughts. If they do then they risk becoming a statistic and not going home to the wife and kids.

    12 Lbs, yep I agree with ya Fred and I think the cops had NO other choice but to take the action that they did. A bad guy is dead and on a crowded big city street. No matter how well and often LE trains, every situation is different in some way and any situation can go ‘tits up’ in a second or two.

  5. Katie says:

    What we saw was a cop or two who either forgot their training or had poor training.

    When I was growing up in NYC I knew cops who were exceedingly proud that in their career they only shot their service revolvers on the range. That they could bring a suspect in without even pulling their revolver. I wonder what they would have said about this fiasco?

    The miracle here is no bystanders or cops died. Just the shooter.

    • BobF says:

      Katie, I hate to say it but that was a different time. Today, people kill for no reason at all and they don’t care who or how many they kill.

    • TexasFred says:

      I too wonder if it’s just the way the NYPD sets triggers OR, is there some sort of serious problem in training…

      And *spray and pray* is NOT a tactic that ANY PD teaches, not that I am aware of…

      Years ago we had a lot better shooters because nearly everyone carried a revolver, you had to be good, the high capacity pistols are great but just because yo HAVE 15 rounds in a magazine doesn’t mean you have to US 15 rounds at the drop of a hat…

      I am still leaning towards a combination of the 12 pound pull and some segment of NYPD training that has gone to hell in a hand basket.

  6. BobF says:

    I’ve got a S&W 9mm DAO with a 9 pound trigger pull. I had the hardest time getting that thing on target until someone showed me a way to control the trigger pull. I can shoot it great now at paper targets while standing still and being able to control my fingers squeeze of the trigger. BUT, in rapid succession shooting, it’s almost impossible to get the rounds where I want them to go. I can only imagine what a 12 pound trigger pull would be like and to have this under stressful conditions while you’re trying to take cover would be almost impossible to shoot straight. The fact the officers did put rounds on target and kill the guy is a testament to them. In any job, the workman needs the proper tools to do it right. NYPD isn’t being given the proper tools

  7. mrchuck says:

    I am extremely familiar with DAO semi-automatic pistols.
    I retired carrying a S&W 4043.
    Our armorer “worked” on our pistols until it was smooth with a trigger pull of 6 lbs.
    In fact, it is sitting within less than an arm’s length from me right now.
    Monthly qualification should be the norm for all PD’s.
    Bloviating Zeppelin will know the latest info.
    Officers DO train on this exact scenario as the one that just happened.

    I have worked with the NYPD officers in the past.
    Raymond Kelley, the “top boss”, probably already knows exactly what happened.
    Remember back some years when the NYPD opened fire on a black man, from Mogadishu or somewhere, exiting a foyer,,,and almost a 100 rounds were expended in a few seconds,and the perp was only wounded, and sued the city,,, and won!!

    My hat is off to the NYPD, and I slowly salute them.
    Remember, I am biased, as I was at “Ground Zero” with a search dog.
    3 weeks there, and I keep an “official NYPD cap” in my closet.
    To end,,,,the NYPD has the resources to do anything it feels is necessary to protect it’s citizenry.
    With it’s huge chain of command, things get done quite efficiently.
    That is not normally the case in other big USA cities.

    That’s my nickel’s worth.

  8. Cary says:

    Let’s make sure the non-gun owners who like to troll here understand what a twelve pound trigger pull means:

    Get a one gallon water jug. Fill it with sand. Add water. You now have a twelve pound weight.

    Place said weight on a table, and hold your arm out from your body. Sit down if need be in order to get the handle of the bottle even with the end of your fingertips.

    Reach out with your dominant pointer finger. Lift the bottle smoothly, and place it back on the table smoothly. You have just replicated a SINGLE shot with a twelve pound trigger pull.

    In order to duplicate the conditions the LEOs faced, have the front line of the nearest AAA high school football squad rush and hit you while you are trying to smoothly lift and lower the bottle. No pressure, right? Get the bottle lifted and lowered BEFORE they hit you.

    It comes down to this – the more weight you have to smoothly control with your pointer or trigger finger, the less speed you will have. The higher speed you have, the less accuracy you retain. The more outside influences on you at the time, the less and less accurate you are going to get.

    NYPD, do your LEOs a favor – revise your ridiculous specs for the service pieces.

  9. Tex says:

    A 12 lb trigger pull is criminal. I regularly use “Grip Masters” to maintain strength in my hands for trigger pull. The heaviest one made is 9 lbs. My personal guns range between 3.5 and 4.5 lbs., but I only recommend that to shooters who are competently trained to keep their fingers off the trigger unless they are firing. The ROE for some police departments are suicide for the officer, much like the ROEs in Afghanistan, they favor the bad guy. I was recently told that the “double tap” and the Mogadishu technique are not approved for law enforcement (I was actually asked to leave a firing range while practicing these techniques), instead they are being told to keep firing until the threat is neutralized. Quantity over quality. It used to be that when officers only had 6 shot revolvers shot placement was emphasized. Even with the larger capacity weapons ammo conservation must be practiced.

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