Yesterday, an officer-involved shooting in Nassau County, NY resulted in the death of one of the responding police officers. Officers shot a knife-wielding suspect, who charged them in the hallway of his house, killing him.
Just after the shooting, a plain-clothed officer entered the scene carrying a long gun. He was mistaken for a suspect and shot by one of the officers inside the house. The victim officer later died of his injuries at the hospital.
When police officers arrive to assist at the scene of a call, it is imperative that clear communications, either verbally or by radio, precede them. The officers on scene should be made aware of your approach.
I arrived at an officer-involved shooting several months ago. The robbery suspect was down in the driveway and officers were clearing the house. I responded to assist them. Before entering the front door, I announced, “LPD, coming in!” several times until I heard the acknowledgement, “Clear, one coming in!”
Stress cannot only hinder fine motor skills, but also “fine thinking skills.” During a hot call, officer safety considerations need to be broken down into simple concepts.
I do not know if the victim officer in Nassau announced his presence and intent at the incident, nor if he received a proper response. It is unfortunately evident that there was a communication breakdown. I am saddened by the loss of yet another fine officer this year.
If your officers do not have a standard verbal or radio procedure when entering a scene or during building search, put one into play. Some agencies use words like “Blue” or “Green” as familiar terms, as in “Green, green, green, coming in!” for a sheriff’s office.
Teamwork is one of the most important assets we have in law enforcement. It is the force multiplier for our Thin Blue Line. Clear communication is always necessary for good teamwork.
Randy is a twenty-three year veteran officer of a mid-size Florida police department. He served as a SWAT team officer for 21 years, to include 12 years as a team leader. His other duties included police K9 handler, FTO, and detective. Currently serving as a midnight shift sergeant, he is also his department’s SWAT Coordinator.