Tony Holden writes:
I’m a retired NYC police officer. I agree with many of the comments regarding trigger pull and lack of training. However, my chief complaint while I served was the poor lack of response training in these situations. There were some of us who tried to get the department to go for a more clandestine approach when it came to responding to a shooting after the fact and going after a suspect in a crowded street. With the advent of surveillance cameras everywhere and the increase in our patrol force, we thought it would be safer for the public if instead of going for the approach and confront or chase and take down that a calmer, more stealthy approach would be safer in such situations.
My partner arrested a suspect who had just shot someone by shadowing him through a crowd of pedestrians. He gave me his cap, borrowed a jacket from a civilian to cover up his uniform shirt, badge and belt equipment (all while we’re on the move), then blended in with the crowd of pedestrians the suspect was in. As the suspect turned a corner my partner came right up next to him and took him down.
Some of the bystanders were startled, but his shouting his identity and that the suspect was under arrest made them realized what was happening, and I had caught up with him by the time he had his handcuffs on him.
In another instance similar to this and the recent Johnson shooting, we kept the suspect under surveillance and he returned to his apartment and that’s where we arrested him.
We always felt these scenarios would work most of the time because there are very rare cases where a suspect starts shooting their victims while an officer is nearby because of the low ratio of officers on the street to civilian population. If a suspect can be followed and caught by surprise it not only reduces the stress level of the officers from where it is when they are in a chase or a firefight situation, but it is always safer for the surrounding public.
I always dreaded having to use my weapon on the street for fear of hitting my fellow officers or civilians. Forutnately, this happens rarely in our whole career. I trained on the firing range every chance I got, but I knew that no matter how many rounds I fired in training, it would only compensate a little when it came to the instantly changing and fluid dynamics of a pursuit.