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http://www.policeone.com/off-duty/a...-affects-survival-odds-for-plainclothes-cops/

October 29, 2012 EmailPrintCommentRSS

Destroying Myths & Discovering Cold Facts
with Force Science Institute

Badge placement affects survival odds for plainclothes cops

Where you place your badge - at your beltline or hanging from your neck - may directly affect your chances of surviving when you're confronted by a responding officer


When officers who've just finished a shooting exercise gather around and an instructor holds up a "no-shoot" target that looks like it's been riddled by machine gun fire, that's a sobering moment.
Especially when the officers now see that the target sports a badge.
Some flat out deny they fired any mistaken rounds. But after running hundreds of officers through decision-making exercises in which at least one sudden target represents an out-of-uniform cop with a badge openly displayed, Sgt. Ward Smith knows the disturbing truth: Without awareness training, the average in-service officer will fire on the "friendly" form before realizing it's a fellow LEO.

Smith, supervisor of the Kansas City (Mo.) PD's firearms training section and a certified Force Science Analyst, has completed a two-year study of this phenomenon that's highly relevant for off-duty, undercover, and other plainclothes officers who become involved in a hot crime scene while armed - as well as for uniformed personnel who respond to such scenarios.
"When you're in street clothes with your gun out in an enforcement situation," Smith concludes from his findings, "where you place your badge - at your beltline or hanging from your neck - may directly affect your chances of surviving when you're confronted by a responding officer who does not personally recognize you."
Research results: A center-mass display is safer.
A Cold Feeling
The study evolved, Smith told Force Science News, after KCPD experienced a blue-on-blue shooting in 2010. A uniformed officer carrying an AR-15 was mistaken for a suspect by a colleague with a shotgun as both responded in dim light to an armed-person call.
The misidentified officer lost part of a thumb to a shotgun pellet - better than losing a life, of course, but alarming enough to send a "cold feeling in the pit of the stomach" to trainers in the firearms section who wondered what they could do to prevent a recurrence, Smith says.
As ideas evolved for integrating the problem into annual in-service firearms training for the department's nearly 1,400 sworn personnel, Smith and his instructors settled on testing how badge placement might affect quick recognition of a no-shoot, friendly target. Namely, would officers respond differently when confronting the same target dressed in civilian clothes with a Kansas City police shield fixed to the beltline vs. hanging on a chain around the neck?
During the training year of 2011, the staff monitored more than 900 officers to find out.
Test Setup
In the department's indoor range, the research team hung fiberglass tarps to create eight shooting bays, each outfitted with two turning targets. The targets were 2-D, full-color, life-size photographs of male and female subjects, some threatening and some not. Included were armed targets that had a silver KCPD badge affixed either to the figure's belt or hanging from a simulated chain at chest level.
The targets were programmed to simultaneously turn toward officers being tested for variable amounts of time (between one and three seconds) as they progressed among the bays. Officers were instructed to "take appropriate action" - to scan, to move and use cover, to discriminate under time compression between shoot and no-shoot targets, and to fire until adversaries were defeated.
Shooter-to-target distance was about 24 feet, and about half the encounters occurred in reduced light, equivalent to the illumination within 50-60 feet of a standard residential streetlight. Officers in dim-light situations had to "manipulate a flashlight appropriately."
During a briefing before the exercise officers "were informed they would be responding to assist undercover and plainclothes officers in an arrest situation," Smith explains. Thus, "Even though all the badge targets were armed, they were considered no-shoot. We stressed the need to identify each target and officers were warned that they'd need to pay close attention and be alert."
The researchers' hypothesis was that fewer targets with chest-level badges would be shot at, because Kansas City cops are trained to focus on center mass as an aim point and thus would be more likely to quickly pick up on a badge positioned there.
First Year Results
During testing the first year, 920 officers were sampled. Each fired about 125 rounds in the exercise, primarily using Glock 22 duty weapons. By Smith's estimate 65 percent shot at least one badge-bearing target. "Some of those initial targets looked like someone had cut loose on them with a machine gun," he says.
"Lighting conditions were a big factor in how officers performed. But the location of the badge on the target proved to be an even bigger determining factor as to whether these no-shoot targets were fired at or not.
"This matched our hypothesis that belt-level badges would draw more fire, but it was surprising to see badge placement was as big a factor as it turned out to be."
Specifically:
Overall, a no-shoot target with a belt badge was six times more likely to be shot than one with a neck badge
Even under full-light conditions, belt-badge targets were hit 1,272 times, compared to 196 hits for neck-badge targets
Under low light, belt-badge targets were hit 5,288 times, with neck-badge targets taking 843 hits
Combining both badge-placement locations, the no-shoot targets were four times more likely to be shot under low-light conditions than in a bright-light setting
(cont in link)
 

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About 12 years ago, I was serving a search warrant with other guys from the Drug Task Force. I was in uniform, but most everyone else was in plainclothes. I did attend the briefing, but I didn't see or meet everyone there.

During the course of the warrants (2 simultaneous apartments in the same building on different floors) someone started screaming into the radio that people were bailing from the third floor. I pursued into a maze of alleys (it's about 2230) and dark as fuck. Someone in street clothes ran from an intersecting alley and stopped dead in their tracks when they saw me. I drew and ordered the suspect to the ground.

The "suspect" ended up being another cop, whose department shall remain nameless to protect his dumb ass and theirs. He was wearing no badge at all, and didn't ID himself until he had a .40 pointed at him and was treated like a suspect.

I took that close call experience and when I was assigned street crime in plainclothes a few years later, I made damn sure that all the guys on my shift knew I was in street clothes, what shirt and hat I was wearing and had my badge on a neck chain under my shirt.
 

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Just did a LE concealed carry class recently. Best class ever. Scenarios that forced us to address multiple targets, verbalize that we were plain clothes police, shoot one handed while securing and displaying badge, just a multi-tasking cluster fuck that really opened my eyes.
 
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Exactly why, when off duty and carrying, my badge isn't in a wallet. It's on a neck-chain in my support side pocket. I can get it out quick enough if need be (and everyone behind me in line at the supermarket doesn't see I'm a cop when I'm paying).
 

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I hate the way neck chains look, I know it is stupid but I do. I would much rather go with the logic of who else in this neigborhood is wearing a fucking suit and tie ot 0230 on Saturday, but the article is eye opening. I still hate the way the neck chains look.
 

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We did a force on force training a while ago and in some scenarios we had both live and paper targets. In one scenario a paper traget had a badge clipped to the waist area. I put two rounds in the head of the target, never saw the badge. oops
 

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For those of you that may be looking, Strong Leather makes a nice clip-on badge holder that has a neck chain that sits inside of an internal pocket and is deployable in seconds with one hand if you need to take it off your belt and put it around your neck.

The chain will actually self-deploy if you start sprinting with it on as well. ;)
 
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Thanks Hush as a new part time Det. sometimes I still forget I'm not in uniform. This helps open my eyes. Most of the time I have the badge on my belt near the weapon. If I anticipate police action I do wear it on a chain around my neck.
 

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I believe frank is referring to this
Yup, that's the one.

Not to mention, a QPD rumor was that a last half brass told patrolmen that if they didnt' recognize the detective that they could shoot him.
I liked your post in a joking manner, but the brass should have a size 12 shoved sideways up their ass for that thinking if it's true. To assume that they would not have someone from outside of their jurisdiction off-duty or in a task force capacity (not to mention state and federal officers) is asinine.
 

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Not to mention, a QPD rumor was that a last half brass told patrolmen that if they didnt' recognize the detective that they could shoot him.
Don't worry, most of the last half has been around long enough to know not to listen to everything he says.
 

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I believe frank is referring to this
Does anyone know where I can get one of those? The Strong website doesn't show much law enforcement stuff. I've looked at a few supply store websites, nothing quite like that.
 

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About 12 years ago, I was serving a search warrant with other guys from the Drug Task Force. I was in uniform, but most everyone else was in plainclothes. I did attend the briefing, but I didn't see or meet everyone there.

During the course of the warrants (2 simultaneous apartments in the same building on different floors) someone started screaming into the radio that people were bailing from the third floor. I pursued into a maze of alleys (it's about 2230) and dark as fuck. Someone in street clothes ran from an intersecting alley and stopped dead in their tracks when they saw me. I drew and ordered the suspect to the ground.

The "suspect" ended up being another cop, whose department shall remain nameless to protect his dumb ass and theirs. He was wearing no badge at all, and didn't ID himself until he had a .40 pointed at him and was treated like a suspect.

I took that close call experience and when I was assigned street crime in plainclothes a few years later, I made damn sure that all the guys on my shift knew I was in street clothes, what shirt and hat I was wearing and had my badge on a neck chain under my shirt.
If you guys were serving search warrants, why were the plain clothes folks in plain clothes? What happened to their raid jackets? There's no excuse for this type of thing to happen in modern times.

Did these other folks learn something from this incident? Was a debrief conducted afterward so this potential disaster doesn't happen again.
 
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Not to mention, a QPD rumor was that a last half brass told patrolmen that if they didnt' recognize the detective that they could shoot him.
I did almost shoot one of our detectives when I had about 3 days on QPD. I stopped him for a traffic violation (in his POV), and he immediately jumped out with his pistol stuck in his waistband (he was off-duty). He obviously thought I would recognize him, but I had absolutely no idea who he was, and came within a couple of pounds of trigger pull from shooting him.
 

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If you guys were serving search warrants, why were the plain clothes folks in plain clothes? What happened to their raid jackets? There's no excuse for this type of thing to happen in modern times.

LA..plainclothes on a warant is not unheard of. Walk on U/C's or palinclothes are often used to secure building doors, or put eyes on suspects. To not have everyone aware of who is in soft clothes, and to not make sure those officers are taken away from the set after the door is breached is the problem. U/C's should never be engaged in enforcement, and I will often "lock up" a U/C on the set to protect them. If a P/C officer is on scene, they need to have raid jacket readily available for after the door is hit.
 

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To have UC's on point to watch the location for suspects' movement is one thing; to have them participate in the service of the warrant itself is something totally different, unless they're each wearing a raid jacket.

The last thing we want is a blue on blue shooting. It's bad enough the bad guys shoot at us, we don't need to be shooting at each other.
 
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