The fancy shooting by police on TV isn't real life [Letter]

September 04, 2014

Regarding a reader's question about why police officers shoot to kill, Baltimore City police and most other departments train there officers to shoot at the target's center of mass, which is the largest part of the body and where the bullet has the most stopping power ("Why do police always shoot to kill?" Aug. 29).

Shooting at the center of mass does not always result in the suspect being killed. Officers assigned to specialized units such as SWAT teams and given additional firearms training may attempt to shoot a suspect in the leg or arm. However, these units are usually the last ones on the scene and most police involved shootings are over in a matter of minutes.

Your average street officer is not trained to shoot suspects in the leg or arm. In most police shooting situations there is no time for an officer to take aim at a suspect who is advancing or running at him. On television, highly trained officers shoot the weapons out of suspects' hands and perform other amazing feats. But that's TV, not real life.

Going to weapons training and shooting at cardboard targets in no way prepares a person to shoot at a live target who is armed with a deadly weapon and may be trying to kill you or someone else.

Most police officers go through their entire career and never discharge their weapons other than at the range. If you have YouTube there are several videos you can search using the keyword "21 foot rule."

I would encourage everyone to watch a few of these videos to dismiss the notion that police officers can successfully defend themselves against armed suspects without using their weapons.

Carl D. Brown

The writer is a retired major of the Baltimore City Police Department.

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