Editor’s Note: The following is a post from Sammy Reese, a former Marine Corps Artillery Officer and retired police officer from California. He is a part-time range master for the police department he retired from as well as a life-long martial artist and combatives coach.
Check out the last five episodes in this series:
- Ep. 21 Should I Shoot? To Kill or Not To Kill A Dog
- Ep. 22 Should I Shoot? Do You Draw While Engaged in a Physical Altercation?
- Ep. 23 Should I Shoot? Are You as Prepared as You Can Be?
- Ep. 24 Should I Shoot? You Have Legal Justification to Shoot, But Do You Have To?
- Ep. 25 Should I Shoot? Take a Deep Breath
Tragedy struck again recently. Two police officers were killed in Palm Springs, California while responding to a domestic dispute. I don’t have any of the details yet, but the incident did bring up a question — or should I say questions — from a family friend. “If I see police officers who need help, should I get involved?” That conversation moved into, “What if I see cops being shot and I’m armed? How should I help?”
During my time working uniformed patrol, I had a couple incidents where someone approached us while taking a suspect into custody and asked if we needed help. They were good intentioned and a polite. “We got it,” got them to move back.
If you see an officer struggling with a suspect, I would communicate directly with the officer as you approach — “Officer/deputy, do you need any help?” If they say, “yes,” I’m sure he/she will tell you what they need. Please don’t just jump in and help. If I were fighting with a suspect and someone who was not in uniform jumped in, I would assume that person was trying to help the suspect. It has happened. This could be bad for you.
At more than a few crashes, I’ve had nurses, off-duty paramedics/EMT and, on a few rare occasions, a doctor, stop and offer help. If the fire department wasn’t on scene yet, I always accepted their help. If the fire department was there, I let them make the call on whether any outside medical assistance was needed.
Police officers all over the U.S. are being shot and ambushed at an alarming rate. I’ve got a few opinions on the subject, but this isn’t the place to air them. If you are close enough to help officers who are actively being engaged by gunfire, you are also on the X, as we say. I’m going to make a couple assumptions here: You aren’t wearing any type of body armor, you aren’t identifiable as a good guy (meaning you’re not wearing a uniform) and you are alone (as in you have no family with you.) If the officers engaged see you approaching with a firearm in your hand and you aren’t on their team, you could end up getting shot by them, and the same could be said for getting shot by the suspect as well.
This type of event is wide open to all kinds of “what if?” questions and each of those will lead to more questions. How I answer the question comes down to this: It depends on all kinds of factors that have to be analyzed and acted upon in seconds. If I’m with my family, they are priority No. 1. I will do whatever I can to evacuate them to safety or get them in the best position of cover I can find, and I’m holding with them. If I see officers caught in an ambush and getting killed, I’m going to have to make the call on the spot as to what I’ll do and how I’ll do it.
I wish the answer were a simple one. Train hard and plan for the worst so you are ready when it happens. Keep asking “what if?” questions and work through the problems.
For more critical information on the use of deadly force and other firearms and self-defense topics, visit www.uscca.com/GunsAmerica.