Law enforcement officials weigh in on Biden’s advice to shoot suspects in the leg

by WorldTribune Staff, October 21, 2020

Joe Biden’s plan to train police officers to shoot suspects in the leg is “ridiculous,” law enforcement officials say.

During the recent ABC town hall event, Biden laid out his vision for police reform, which included his advice for police on avoiding the use of deadly force.

Overall, according to research, only about a quarter of police officers have ever fired their sidearms while on the job. /

“There’s a lot of things we’ve learned, and it takes time,” the Democrat candidate said, “but we can do this. You can ban chokeholds … but beyond that, you have to teach people how to de-escalate circumstances.”

“So, instead of anybody coming at you and the first thing you do is shoot to kill, you shoot them in the leg,” Biden said.

Law enforcement officials told Just the News that Biden seriously misjudged the logistics of police use-of-force.

Lawrence O’Toole, a Lt. Col with the St. Louis Police Department, said Biden’s remarks were “ridiculous.”

“Why don’t we train the military to do that?” he asked sarcastically. “Obviously we shoot for the larger part of the body because we have the highest percentage of being able to hit the target. We shoot to stop the threat. You could be endangering the public by shooting and missing.”

O’Toole also took issue with Biden’s idea that police officers “shoot to kill” when drawing their weapons.

“Nowhere have I ever heard in police training that we shoot to kill,” he said, adding: “We shoot to stop the threat. We do not shoot to kill.”

Biden’s notion that leg shots are a practical alternative to current police training is “a myth,” Dana Schrad, the executive director of the Virginia Association of Chiefs of Police, told Just the News.

“We have a continuum of use of force policies that we follow,” Schrad said. “Officers are trained to de-escalate situations, to use the minimal force necessary, to contain a situation, and to bring it to a peaceful conclusion.”

“If an officer is forced to use lethal force that means there’s imminent danger. If there’s that level of danger that would force an officer to use a firearm, he’s trained to shoot to body mass,” Schrad said. “It takes some really special equipment and a real good marksman to disable someone by shooting them in the leg.”

Dave Grossman, a retired Lt. Col. in the United States Army, told Just the News that violent, potentially murderous suspects “have to be stopped immediately.”

“Shooting someone in the leg does not stop someone immediately,” he said. “You’re trying to stop an immediate threat. And shooting someone in the leg doesn’t stop them from killing or shooting someone else.”

Grossman, who runs a nationwide law enforcement training program and who developed the discipline of “killology,” used a conversation with a deer-hunting relative to illustrate his point.

“He once asked me, ‘Why don’t cops just shoot suspects in the leg?’ ” Grossman said. “And I told him, ‘The next time you shoot at a deer, aim for the leg.’ He got it immediately.”

Randy Shrewsberry, the executive director of California’s Institute for Criminal Justice Training Reform and a former law enforcement officer told Just the News that the shoot-for-the-leg argument is “something that’s been perpetuated in fictional TV shows.”

“It’s an unrealistic proposition,” Shrewsberry said of Biden’s idea. “I think my feelings probably echo the vast majority that are in law enforcement today.”

“The major thing to understand is that police officers must be trained to shoot for center mass because it’s the largest part of the target,” he said. “When we’re talking about stress-shooting situations, accuracy drops tremendously. Most of the time it’s not just someone standing in one spot. People are moving around. Adrenaline is pumping.”

O’Toole said remarks like Biden’s are “uninformed and uneducated” about the nature of marksmanship in dangerous and potentially deadly situations.

“If it was that easy to do, we would have been doing it all along,” he said.

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