I just finished reading “Shots Fired” by Joseph Loughlin and Kate Clark Flora. It will be available in the fall from Skyhorse Press. They are, respectively, a retired assistant chief of the Portland, Maine Police Department and SWAT team commander, and a renowned true crime writer. Their book is a police-eye view of law enforcement use of force issues today, seen in the macrocosm of social issues and the microcosm of what it’s like to be the cop who has to pull the trigger.  At the core of the book, we hear in their own words from law enforcement officers who have “been there.” These include several of the officers who faced down the bullets and thrown explosives of the Boston Bombers.


Here’s an example of the authors’ perspective: “It has unfortunately become the norm, in our fast-paced, media-driven world, that use of force cases and particularly deadly force cases, are routinely misreported. Far too often, when there is a deadly event in an officer-involved shooting, irresponsible reporters, misinformed advocates, and publicity-seeking politicians exacerbate the situation by writing stories or taking public positions prior to receiving any solid information. As a result, the public understanding is based on a dis­torted view rather than careful investigation and fact-finding.”


“Shots Fired” is educational for anyone who reads it with an open mind instead of a political identity agenda. Here, the authors explain why it may seem to the general public that courts “take the cops’ word” for things:


“The Supreme Court has stressed the importance of recognizing the judgment of the individual officer in the situation: ‘when used by trained law enforcement officers, objective facts, meaningless to the untrained, [may permit] inferences and deductions that might well elude an untrained person.’”


They continue, “In practice, when a court evaluates the conduct of an officer, it ‘must avoid substituting our personal notions of proper police proce­dures for the instantaneous decision of the officer on the scene,’ and, ‘When a jury measures the objective reasonableness of an officer’s action, it must stand in his shoes and judge his actions based upon the information he possessed.’”  — United States v. Cortez, 449 U.S. 411, at 418 (1980).


“Shots Fired” by Loughlin and Flora is a valuable addition to the literature of use of force, and a breath of fresh air and common sense in the current debate.”


  1. A few weeks back, one of the DC TV stations had a reporter and camera crew spend some time at one of the area Police Academies. They apparently did a quicky overview of duties & such and then put the on air talent into role playing as an officer, paired with an experienced officer. Given the way she waved the baton around, they obviously didn’t do any intermediate force training.

    To their credit, they showed several occasions where de-escalation didn’t work and the results. The talent did show some skills at de-escalation, but utterly failed when they didn’t work like they’re supposed to. She also didn’t see some glaringly obvious dangerous/illegal items. The whole experience made an obvious impression on that one person (possibly the camera crew also). I seriously doubt the message will stick with viewers or the folks who decide what to put on the tube.

  2. I once heard an experienced advertiser say he had learned a lot about different businesses and jobs over the years. Reporters would seem to have similar experiences, reporting on lots of subjects. But crime and guns are in the news every single day, and yet they want to remain willfully ignorant of firearms and police work. Communist journalists, and the senior editors who decide what goes on the news, or what gets printed, are despicable.

    During the so-called “insurgency” in Iraq, there was a period of maybe two years where there was a whole lot of combat going on. I’m guessing the time period may have been 2004 and 2005. I’m sure there are American warriors who have a whole lot of combat experience. Special Forces guys seem to go on many missions. It would be great if someone with a lot of combat experience would write about it. They don’t need to include classified information, just what happens, the confusion, the noise, the terror and the mistakes made in combat situations. My understanding of combat has been helped greatly by people who told me the truth about it. Before that, I believed that people who were shot had to fall down, and that bullets could knock people over if they hit a bone, and that they died pretty quickly. All false. Also, I’ve been told you can’t see the bullets impacting bodies. No blood spurts, no visible holes in clothing.

  3. When a police officer takes action in response to threats of possible grave bodily injury or death by following their training, the media and other anti-police folks question his actions. When confronted with the facts proving his adherence to his training, these same folks question the wisdom of that training. If survival expediency causes an officer to violate that training, these same folks demand he be prosecuted for straying from his training. Sometimes the two can come into focus in the same confrontation.

    When I went through the academy, a good portion of our defensive tactics training was the proper implementation of the lateral vascular neck restraint hold. For my first 20+ years on the job it was a perfectly legal and widely used technique. It worked. I personally used this technique in dozens of physical confrontations, without any lingering affects or injury on the suspect. This technique fell into disfavor because of a relatively few cases (nationwide) where it it was miss-applied, resulting in injury or death. Nearly all departments disavowed it’s use and trained officers to never use it due to the media and public disapproval. Now, because officers are trained not to use it, prosecuting attorneys feel obligated to charge an officer for homicide if a death results, even if the officer had used it as a last resort. We would joke among ourselves that we would be less likely to be true-billed if we grabbed a rock off the ground and beat the brains out of an attacker than resorting to a LVNR and the attacker dies as a result.

    If straying from their training or departmental policy is considered evidence of negligence on an officer’s part in a confrontation, surely adherence to training and policy should work as a shield in possible prosecution.

  4. Roger Willco: although “Deadmeat2” is not apparently a combat veteran, I believe if you Google that name, or “mouseguns.com/deadmeat.htm,” you will find the best expertise on terminal ballistics on the Internet.

  5. Mas,

    As I remember, back in the early 90s you were a advocate of having to obtain a licence to carry a gun and that one should prove they were competent before carrying in public. I want to ask what has changed your mind concerning the “Vermont” style of carry and your feelings on it today.

  6. Eddie, time taught me that states with no training requirement such as VT and NH tended to have low crime rates and mistakes made by concealed carriers were extremely rare. Moreover, the mandatory training requirement would have a disparate impact on those who need it most, the poor.

    I wasn’t an advocate for training; what I said was if there was going to be a competency requirement, make it a competency test, since competency could be learned from friends, family, and extended family without taking what for some would be prohibitively expensive mandatory training.

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