I encountered this in the crime section of today’s Baltimore Sun: Off-duty D.C. police officer carjacked. “The 44-year-old officer told police he was driving home on Harford Road and East 25th Street at about 11:40 p.m. when a woman stepped in front of his car and a man armed with a handgun ordered him out of the vehicle, police said. … [Police recovered the car and arrested the woman, but,] The officer, who was driving away from his East Baltimore home at the time of the carjacking, said his service weapon was inside the car, but police did not recover it.” I suppose everyone has a bad day, but I have to question the effectiveness of concealed carry for the average Joe when someone can carjack an armed, experienced police officer. Maybe that’s why OnCourse (“specialising in 4×4 driving courses tailored to suit the driving conditions common to developing countries”) recommends avoidance above all. [ED: Bullet points from their course after the jump, so to speak.]
Module: The Proactive Mindset (Incident Avoidance)
- Avoidance through awareness; developing a pro-active mindset.
- Carry out effective threat and risk assessment and analysis.
- Route planning; identifying choke points, alternative routes and safe havens.
- Understanding the decision making process, awareness levels and the effects of survival stress.
Module: Introduction to Security Driving (urban)
- Understanding different types of car-jacking scenarios.
- Avoid or comply; procedures for giving up your vehicle.
From the sound of it, they had the drop on him. He probably stopped the car and was face to face with a gun. The real world isn't a movie and when someone already has a gun in your face while yours is tucked somewhere else, you should probably just get out of the car.
Well my question would be how would this officer and other police officers deal with walking arond a corner and suddenly have a gun in their face while on duty?
This all comes down to being situationally aware. It's kind of like what Bush said about terrorism, "We have to be right every time. The terrorists only have to be right once." Anybody can let their guard down, and that's most likely to happen when you're in familiar surroundings. The guy is in his own neighborhood, in his own car. I can see how this could happen. Concealed carry isn't a panacea. I can think of a thousand scenarios where I could have my gun with me and it wouldn't do me a bit of good. Then again, I can think of a similar number of scenarios where it would. In a car, I carry a gun so that if I'm stranded someplace, I'm not an easy mark. I'd love to think that, if a carjacking situation came up, I'd be situationally aware enough to be able to use my weapon to stop it. But that's not necessarily gonna be the case.
His service weapon was in the car. The car left. So did the weapon. Weapon not recovered.
Perhaps the weapon should have been carried on the officer's person. CCW only works when you pay attention to the "carry" bit. If you have a weapon, but it's not securely fastened at the waist, ankle or armpit, then you and said weapon can become separately fairly quickly. Usually faster than you can react.
Yes, the officer had bad situational awareness. Yes, the bad guys got the drop. But, had he been carrying the weapon on his body and not in the glove box, or under the seat, or in the trunk, he would have A) maintained an ability to respond with force, even though the situation was not in his favor, B) kept the weapon on the right side of the law.
Is it really bad situational awareness? I mean, honestly. If you saw a girl in the middle of the street trying to flag you down would you assume "OH, I'm going to get carjacked" or "OH, this girl needs my attention and possibly help."
Situational Awareness is great, but the streets of Baltimore aren't littered with insurgents and IEDs. We have no real idea how this went down. Maybe she jumped in front of his car – his reaction? Slam the brakes. A second later – gun in the face.
No matter how prepared you are, action is always faster than reaction. He was ambushed. Not even John Rambo would have come out of that with his car.
I agree he should have had the weapon on him and, if the opportunity presented itself, taken control of the situation. But with what limited knowledge we have, I'd be hard pressed to assign blame to the officer for anything other than storing his weapon in the car and not on his person.