Yesterday, I raised the issue of 911 operators, labeling them a dangerous distraction. I suggested that armed citizens facing a defensive gun use (DGU) tell the 911 operator who they are, where they are, what they look like and what’s happening (in simple terms). And then cease communication. Today I want to point out that the cops are not the U.S. Cavalry. They may be rushing to your rescue but, as Maj. Gen. Richard Taylor found out (back in the day), the cavalry can arrive too late. And that means you want to continue the fight until the moment you know for sure that the scene is secure. From the danger of the police as well. ‘Cause the cops can have, you know, problems. To wit this from officer.com . . .

After Los Angeles Police Department radio communications went down for half the day on Tuesday, a city councilman on Wednesday demanded the firing of the official whose agency caused the problem.

Councilman Mitch Englander said he will call for the dismissal of General Services Department general manager Tony Royster for the power outage Tuesday at Mount Lee, where all LAPD radio communications equipment is housed.

Englander, who is a reserve officer, said General Services crews were sent to the Mount Lee facility — located not far from the Hollywood sign — to test a backup generator. However, he said, the test failed and knocked out all power at Mount Lee, shutting down radio communications.

“It placed the public and officers at extreme risk,” Englander said.

LAPD officials and the Mayor’s Office, however, said backup systems were used that ultimately prevented any serious breakdowns in communication . . .

“When that equipment didn’t work, other redundant systems kicked in at the LAPD,” spokesman Peter Sanders said. “The LAPD successfully handled 911 calls and no emergency responses were threatened.”

Englander, however, insisted that the problem was more serious than that. The communications breakdown meant a delayed response to emergencies, as 911 calls had to be answered manually with operators then calling stations to dispatch an officer, he said.

So just a slight delay, then. Or a coverup. No, not a coverup. Large bureaucratic organizations like big city police departments are highly efficient entities with well-trained and prepared employees who always hold the public’s interest as their number one priority. Or not.

Let’s face it: cops screw-up. Not all the time. Some of the time. Sometimes they go to the wrong address. Sometimes they fail to properly analyze a violent situation. Sometimes they shoot the wrong person. Hey, shit happens. My point being: don’t depend on the cops to bail you out. Not until they do.

To paraphrase John Lennon, death is what happens when you’re making other plans. In other words, if you let your guard down—It’s OK honey the police are on their way—you are making a serious strategic mistake. Lest we forget, the police were busy setting up a perimeter around Dr. Petit’s house when two ex-cons began to rape and kill his family.

There’s nothing wrong with assuming a defensive position (whether inside or outside your home) and waiting for the cops to arrive—as long as that defensive position is defensible and you can defend that defensive position over a suitable period of time. In rural areas especially, the cops can take an awfully long time to arrive.

But don’t not have a Plan B. What do I do if no one’s coming to my rescue? At the risk of repeating myself (and Mssr. Émile-Auguste Chartier), nothing is more dangerous as an idea—when it’s the only one you have. Make sure you keep the OODA loop spinning even after you call 911.

By the same token, assume that the cops are going to mistake you for the bad guy, no matter how obvious it is that you’re the taxpayer they’ve come to “save” (e.g., you described yourself and your location to the 911 operator). As soon as you KNOW you’re safe, put your gun down. Hopefully, before the cops clap eyes on you.

Raise your hands? Sure, why not? Shout “I CALLED THE POLICE” or “I AM THE HOMEOWNER”? Can’t hurt. Avoid sudden movement? Abso-damn-lutely. I’m not saying the cops are out to get you. I am saying they may get you anyway. Or, if you prefer, Kravitz. It ain’t over ’til it’s over. And then the legal tussle begins. Which beats dying. At least in theory.

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24 Responses to Self-Defense Tip: Plan for Police Incompetence

  1. I think it is absolutely correct to consider that “the cavalry” may not arrive in time to save you (think George Custer?), and to plan for that possibility. Engraved in my memory is an evening commute to my home in one of Boston’s neighborhoods some time ago. That day there was some sort of an “officer down” shooting event and as I was headed away from center city many marked and unmarked police cars, both city and state, roared out of side streets and raced past me in the opposite direction. I remember thinking I pity the person from my end of the city that has their own 911 emergency at this moment or for likely a few more hours. (I know some criminals might plan diversions like this, but I’m not going there for this example.) The point is about resource allocation and priority—and someday you might not be the priority!

    I would also add that, in an emergency situation, if you deploy or are forced outside of your house for any reason, make sure you have a “meet up” location with your family members already designated. Of course, not just for a potential DGU, as fires, gas leaks, etc. also happen with regularity.

  2. Agree %100.
    Police are people. Just like anyone else, they screw up or get lazy from time to time, they have their own prejudices and priorities. Experienced cops with good training can make for very good cops, but no amount of training or experience makes one perfect. When they show up, great. Let them do their job and handle the situation, that’s what we’re paying them for. But until they do, and probably for a short time after, you’re on your own son.

  3. As of about three years ago here in Ohio the 911 operators were not required to have any ‘official’ training. Yes. The people who would be handling the most stressful and delicate calls on the planet were not trained here…

    …up until we had a recording of a panicked woman who was told to stay in her car which had fallen into a river. She could have easily gotten out but in her panicked stated and the horrible advice of the 911 operator she stayed in and drowned. The investigators said it was one of the most sad drowning’s to happen because it was so unlikely that anyone would in that situation.

    Anyway… I have had operators argue with me that there was no emergency. Twenty people standing around a guy saying he is going to kill everyone in their beds tonight and that he would kill himself after. 911 operators response: “Sir? What does he look like?” Mine: “I don’t know. He looks like he may be black. Around 6”2. I am in my home he is all the way down the street and I can see him hitting swinging at some people in the crowd.” 911 operator: “Sir! Sir! I cannot send someone until you can give me an accurate description. Can you get closer so you can see what he looks like?” Me: What?! What difference does his color or looks make?! He is swinging at anyone that comes near him blocking the street making death threats!” 911 operator: Sir! Sir! You need to calm down!” Me: “Ahhhh… okay….” *click*

    The police did not come.

    Another time (go back two years) we had a 911 operator tell me my imagination was running away with me because the guy pounding on the side of our house and front door could have just been lost. The dude tried to bust in our side door and than went to what he thought would be an unlocked front weather door so he could wedge it open. I opened the inside door and the security door was between us. He saw the phone and the gun and practically fell all down my front steps and ran down the street like someone who was clearly on something or up to something. The 911 operator told me, again, that he was just lost. The police did not come.

    Last weekend on Saturday at 2 in the morning I was woken by yelling. I check and it is the barrio apartments at the top of our street. There are twenty or so teens of all kinds having a party and from what I saw it was the whole apartment complex. A young man was mad because his friends were stopping him and telling him that ‘it ain’t right’. He was mad at a girl at the party for calling him a bitch. She yelled that he was a bitch because only bitches push bitches. So he ups and decks her right in the face and yells, “Call me bitch one more time, Bitch! Say me bitch one more time!” The chick was knocked on her ass and everyone scattered and some of the guys laughed and joked and said, “He told that bitch. Can’t be held responsible if you warned, yo.” I called 911. No one came. I sat in the window and listened to my neighbor who lives right along side the place and she was yelling that she had just called to cops and everyone needed to leave. I waited looking out my window and no one came. The whole neighborhood was up at this point and I waited for about 45 minutes. No police.

    From what I know of the response, if you get one, here in Cleveland – I never wait and expect nothing but incompetence.

    • Several years ago there was a house fire in a rural area. These typically don’t end well on a good day. This gets complicated… “Lady A” calls “Lady B” and says, “I think your house is on fire” but did NOT call 911 (this was actually before 911 but you get the idea). “Lady B” calls the 911 center’s pre-911 7 digit emergency number from a neighboring jurisdiction (she was at work) to report the fire. The dispatcher, a long time employee of the Sheriff’s Dept. and long long past retirement age, had a little trouble wrapping her head around what was happening. The dispatcher got caught up in repeatedly asking, “what kind of fire is it?” and would not accept, “I don’t know, I’m at work.” Then, “How do you know your house is on fire if you’re at work?” and finally ending up with, “I can’t send a fire truck if you don’t tell me what kind of fire it is.” Finally after much begging and repeating the same line, the dispatcher caved and paged out my volunteer FD: “Station 20, Station 20, respond to a structure fire on Rt. 6… Rt. 6… uh… stand by Station 20.” It was a log cabin type structure which was extremely well insulated. Instead of burning to the ground, the fire was suffocated and left smouldering. We were able to save it without a flashover but it was a burnt potato chip on the inside. The next day the dispatcher suddenly began her retirement. Sadly where I work EMS now is not a model of professional dispatching. They get NO Emergency Medical Dispatcher training at all.

  4. It should be noted that during an emergency situation cell phones will be too overtaxed to handle sending or recieving calls. Half the time they don’t work during normal call volume, to say nothing of the tens of thousands of people trying to make calls during a serious riot or local emergency.

    This is assuming the emergency in question doesn’t knock out the cell towers themselves;people in the Hurricane Katrina damage area had no cell service for weeks after the storm.The liberals who call 911 will find their philosophy rather uncomfortable if a busy signal awaits them during an emergency.

      • I think the conservatives will be much better prepared. Who do you suppose is more likely to have a cache of ammo and food?

        • I found this blog while looking up info on another police site- as a POLICE OFFICER, I can tell you that “yes”, police officers are NO different than the average citizen, EXCEPT they are usually BETTER TRAINED AND EXPERIENCED for SHTF situations.

          Unlike the avg. Citizen concerned about bills or their commute home, officers are daily out looking for havoc and chaos. I can’t speak for the rest of the U.S. As some posts suggest their locals are little better than Deputy Fyfe, but her in CA. You are dealing with well trained pros at least 99% of the time.

          As with anything, self reliance is importance- a decent citizen should have emergency goods, and some type of self defense plan and device( fire arm or other) as well as EXPERIENCE with same device.

          Self defense and mental preparation has NOTHING to do with you political views- it is a responsible person that prepares.

          While I would never discourage anyone from taking self defense or home defense measures, I would encourage many here to “think out” each situation before acting- “going to guns” should be a LAST RESORT measure , and short of society collapse, your local police/sheriffs are going to be better prepared than sleeping suburbanite awakened by a “bump in the night”…..

    • Good point. I have been wondering about buying a high quality two-way radio that perhaps uses the cb/or short-wave bands in case the regular phone grids collapse/go down foe whatever reason. BTW, I wasn’t sure how to write that previous sentence since I am ignorant of radio communications technology.

      • In our neck of the jungle (Hawaii) I wonder if CB/SW would be of any use in getting police and fire assistance as I’m not sure if they monitor those frequencies or even have that capability/equipment.

  5. Then there is also the issue of arrest quotes for certain Denver police departments. It seems that bonuses and promotions are based on monthly numbers. So, do they arrest victims? Oh yeah. Sometimes they create them:

    http://freedominourtime.blogspot.com/2012/04/necessary-force.html

    And there was that time that half the Denver police force arrested the other half of the police force including the chief of police. Some of the police were helping thieves steal for a cut. A cartoon was published showing a woman calling 911, “Help! I’m being robbed!” 911 operator, “It’s all right, Miss. Just take his badge number.”

    Denver police incompetence? Hmmm, no. A few bad apples? About half the barrel. Getting worse? A little bit. Only game in town? Yeah, by design.

    (Gets down off soapbox)

  6. I’m not expecting the cavalry to arrive in time to save my a$$, which is why I carry. I’m fine if the police are late for the party, as long as they don’t kill me when they finally show up.

    Really, is that too much to ask?

  7. Back when we had the 3 BGs outside the door considering when and where to break in, my Wife called had called the cops when they were approaching our house. I had the 870. My Wife directed the cops and they went to the wrong address. The BGs decided to leave and went across the street to “visit” a neighbor’s house. One of the BGs ( fourth guy) had stayed in the car and having a visual on him, Wifed directed cops to his car. Cops passed right by BG car and drove on. Wife directed cops back again. As cops passed, BG ducked down and cops stopped, but drove on. Finally cops wanted us to meet the police cruiser by the BG car! Luckily, the BG driver got out of his car and ran down the alley. Later cops show up and we went out to meet them, sans 870. By this time, the 3 BGs had robbed and left the neighbor’s house. So what we did have was the BG’s car with plates. Later, cops traced the plates and car and arrested the driver BG whos ratted out the other 3 BGs.

  8. Good words, Señor. Reminds me of a (non-gun) story about a guy who got stranded in a snow storm traveling through the Northwest. Conventional wisdom has always been to wait for the rescue team. He did. The state closed the road for the winter. And our man starved to death in his RV.

    There is no substitute for exercising your own best judgment, especially in a tight spot.

  9. Unfortunately you must think of yourself as a target and assume that the police will ID you as hostile and may shoot you before your goodguy status can be determined. They will then be absolved of any responsibilities for your death and will lie their asses off and cover up from top to bottom to protect their careers, powers and the budget. Sometimes this doesn’t work out for them, as in the case where an obviously unhostile/unthreatening teenager on a date with his girlfriend was machine gunned in his vehicle by a federal agent in Maryland. He wasn’t going for a gun, just trying to obey two sets of commands, in front of a kill crazy, trigger happy asshole. I say this as one of the more situationally violent and aggressive people you are likely to meet.

    Once they get away with it, it becomes SOP thereafter. You must understand that some of them like killing and in their minds, anyone “not them” is a legitimate target which won’t keep them awake for one extra minute the night after they kill you. Then there are the accidents, wherein they kill their own personnel on scene.

    There is a training and in my view a selection problem, which is realized but no one will deal with. Then there’s the though that just maybe those charged with that responsibility, like it that way for their own reason and purposes. I do subscribe to that point of view, reluctantly but firmly.

  10. I went on a ride-along as part of the Citizens’ Academy put on by the County Sheriff. The deputy got a call for DV with a knife, which resulted in numerous units responding. Not saying they were incompetent – they wanted enough bodies there to handle it without shooting anybody. This is a big county geographically, mostly rural with one major city (c. 100K population) and a number of small towns most of them unincorporated. Had someone called from a location far away from the DV action they would have waited some time before the cops could get there. Response time could easily have been 20 – 30 min. or more. Response time for 12 GA = 1000 fps, 1200 fps for 9X19. In fact it may be better to call them when it’s all over with but the shouting – less chance of them shooting you.

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