Anatomy of an Iowa Police Shootout

It seems odd that the Des Moines, Iowa police shootout with Steven Vogel didn’t involve the friendly neighborhood Homeland Security Metro S.T.A.R. team. Perhaps if Vogel had been involved in civil disobedience (part of S.T.A.R.’s remit) . . . Anyway, that’s not how these things go down most of the time. A bad/crazy guy starts shooting, a cop or bunch o’ cops show up and engage the perp. By the time the SWAT team’s suited and booted, the bad guy’s assuming room temperature. Which tells us what, exactly? That tax money is better spent equipping and training beat cops than militarizing expensive specialist units? Yup.


  1. avatar Gov. William J. Le Petomane says:

    It seems odd to me that the Des Moines PD took a break from running speed traps to actually take on a real criminal.

    PS. DM cops have a reputation for being pricks.

    1. avatar BillC says:

      Don’t most of them (cops)?
      Granted, my encounters have been courteous and professional (tx). You are nice, they are nice and everybody is on their merry way (even as a CHL). This is coming from my POV where it’s traffic related stops. I’ve gotten a warning for speeding when nobody else is around just because I wasn’t up an LEO’s throat. No matter what, YOU stay civil and professional.

      1. avatar BillC says:

        As an add on, I’m pro-cop, just anti police militarization and very much accountability for military and police.

      2. avatar Gov. William J. Le Petomane says:

        Just watch your speed on 235.

      3. avatar 16V says:

        Courteous and professional in TX? Guess you missed the Paul-Blart-campus-edition execution of an unarmed student….

        1. avatar Paul W. says:

          The student that got the cops baton and started beating him with it?

        2. avatar 16V says:

          No evidence (yet) suggests that, only the pathetic-loser-8-jobs-in-9-years-mall-cop’s-story. Regardless, perhaps you should learn the military rules for dealing with an unarmed subject. Protip: you don’t get to shoot them…

        3. avatar TTACer says:


          Not enough info yet, but supposedly the kid was High School Valedictorian, and on the honor roll. On the other side, the perp I mean cop was, as 16v put it so eloquently, a “pathetic-loser-8-jobs-in-9-years-mall-cop.”

    2. avatar Cyrano says:

      My encounters with West Des Moines and Des Moines PD have been very courteous. The WDSM PD guys I have interacted with have been an upstanding crew. There was one situation with the Des Moines PD where I was wrongfully accused and despite the situation the police were polite but firm and the situation was worked out in minutes. Don’t go generalizing the DPD by using a few bad stories.

      I am antimilitarization though.

      1. avatar Gov. William J. Le Petomane says:

        I’ve never personally had any run ins with the DMPD. I’ve heard plenty of stories though. 235 is the biggest speed trap west of the Mississippi.

        I did once watch the Urbandale PD take a 6 year old away from her mother and hand her over to a woman with 4 felony child abuse convictions. That has to rank pretty high on the bad cop scale.

    3. avatar Joseph says:

      That was certainly relevent, thank you for that Gov.

  2. avatar gs650g says:

    Shhhhh. It cost aot to keep swat on the bench.

  3. avatar Tile floor says:

    As a beat unit, I agree. Just give me and my fellows ARs, regular ARs, the same armed citizens can utilize, and I think we could effectively engage 99.9999999999 percent of any situations.

    Just sayin

    1. avatar Jus Bill says:

      Agreed. And a lot faster, cheaper, and more effectively.

  4. avatar Ima Yeti says:

    Robert, Robert, Robert. You’re trying to apply logical reasoning to a government unit? Have you learned nothing about Democracy?

  5. avatar Ralph says:

    All cops should receive better training. They’d probably do a better job of policing and community relations if they were properly trained. And don’t even breathe a single word about marksmanship.

    There’s a time and place for SWAT, but I can’t think of it right now.

    1. avatar Jus Bill says:

      In the sandbox. So real operators would have some comedy to watch.

    2. avatar Paul W. says:

      Hostage situations are really all that come to mind for me.

  6. avatar 505markf says:

    By god, that sounded like a hell of a gun fight. So here’s a hypothetical: let’s say you were witnessing this fight from one of the houses in back with a clear line of sight to the guy when he was in the back yard. And you had a deer rifle standing against the wall… what are the pros and cons of setting up on your porch and dropping the guy from a distance? I know the risks of stepping into the middle of something when you really don’t know what’s going on, but does that apply when a firefight breaks out between a neighbor and a passel of cops?

      1. avatar 505markf says:

        Exactly. I am sort of stunned that no one in one of the houses above and behind the guy had a deer rifle handy. I mean, it’s Iowa. Of course prudence would dictate digging in, but what if 5 or 6 cops had been hit or killed?

        That guy in TX made one hell of a pistol shot.

        1. avatar jwm says:

          Also reported here on TTAG. A cop was down, bad guy on top of him doing bad guy things to the cop. Cop had shot bad guy once with a .45. Concerned citizen runs up with another .45 and shoots bad guy until he ceases being a bad guy.

        2. avatar Paul B says:

          In Iowa most deer hunter have shot guns. And the area the shooting took place in is the most consistently voting district in Iowa for 100% Democrat. They help other district elect democrats. Also in Des Moines they have a pick up swat team. There are officers on several cities in the metro that make it up.

          Also there are some less that good cops around but most on the DSM PD I have had interaction with are decent guys. They just don’t take a lot of guff.

          This happened about a mile from where I work and I did not hear about it till the shooting was all over.

      2. avatar Myshkin says:

        Sadly, I can picture that heroic citizen needing to worry about getting shot by other cops afterward or getting arrested.

        1. avatar Jeff says:

          yep. to the cops of today, they see you with your rifle and you are immediately an accomplice.

          assisting the cops is a serious threat to your own life unless you live in a place where the local cops know everyone in town.

          I guess that’s the way they want it? probably not, but that’s what they’ve got now.

    1. avatar Gregory says:

      Pro: You may save somebody’s life
      Con: You run a risk of injury or death, at the hands of the perp or the police.

      I’ve seen this question come up on various LEO-centric forums and opinions were split. Some LEOs said they would be happy for the help, others said civilians had no business getting involved and had a significant chance of getting shot in the process.

    2. avatar Not So 1337 says:

      If I was one of the people in the back on the phone with the 911 operator, I would definitely be asking for permission to fire as I was setting up.

  7. avatar Hannibal says:

    While I take issue with a lot of how police topics are slanted here, I have trouble disagreeing with the last sentence (not counting “yup”). There’s still some need for specialized units (or maybe just officers- i.e. snipers, etc) but it seems overdone to me in many areas. On one hand you have the units that are mostly prestige-based and just get globs of training and equipment without doing anything, and on the other you have the units that feel the pinch and so try and get deployed everywhere to justify themselves.

  8. avatar The Original Brad says:

    — That tax money is better spent equipping and training beat cops than militarizing expensive specialist units? —

    I dona think I’ve seen a statement on TTAG that I’ve agree with as much as this. Well effing said.

  9. avatar mirgc says:

    Maybe they just got tangled up in their urban ghillie suits?

    1. avatar Ralph says:

      Now that’s funny

  10. avatar Michael B. says:

    S.T.A.R.S? The bumbling cops in Resident Evil?

    1. avatar Jodas says:

      In the Northern California county I used to live in, S.T.A.R.S. is the Sheriff’s Team of Active Retired Seniors…..

  11. avatar Rick says:

    “There cannot be one good cop because the rest of them will not allow it” not my quote but it sure seems like the truth way to often

  12. avatar Jonathan -- Houston says:

    Traffic cops are tax collectors for the welfare state. We don’t need more cops or better equipped cops. Better training, perhaps, but better recruiting is more likely the key. You have a minority of cops, particularly among sheriff and constable departments, DPS (state troopers) and some small town P.D.’s, who are honest, professional and committed to careers as peace officers. Then you have the others…..

    The others are medium/large city cops; often outright criminals themselves, or bullies with badges, or just another flavor of incompetent, overcompensated government workers.

  13. avatar Joseph says:

    Good Grief Charley Brown

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