The Dundalk Gunfight – Multiple Perspectives
A compilation video of the gunfight between Baltimore County Police and Blaine Robert Erb in Dundalk, MD is making the rounds now (kudos to whoever put it together, by the way). We discussed that Officer Involved Shooting here, as you may recall. Now we can see a little more, including footage from inside the bus.
It’s a long video, but worth watching. In fact it’s worth watching more than once to pick up all the little things, good and bad, that happened that day.
As always, there will be those who accuse us of armchair quarterbacking. To them we say, you’re damn right we are. Any event like this, caught from multiple perspectives, is a priceless opportunity to learn.
What did we do right? Let’s make sure everyone sees it, recognizes it for what it is, understands the whys and wherefores of it. Let’s drive that point to our next batch of rookies.
What did we do wrong? Nobody does it all right, not ever. Sometimes we just flat fuck things up, badly. How do we preempt those things from happening in the future? Do we change SOPs/TTPs? Alter our equipment? Fire someone and make an example of them?
LEO, military, PSC, PMC, any armed professional at all — if you cannot understand the necessity for (and the advantages of) scrutinizing these sorts of things every single time, you’re in the wrong line of work.
We’re well aware of Graham v. Connor, and we understand Illinois v. Rodriguez. Neither one should be an excuse not to improve ourselves, even if someone must become an object lesson to do.
88 Tactical COO Trevor Thrasher, below, is currently deployed with a Special Forces Group to a CENTCOM AO. Thrasher is also Director of Training.
This was the bystander video we previously saw:
The most obvious equipment takeaway remains the need for agency-wide rifles. There are a number of constraints that might hinder this in practice, but in our eyes a responsible agency will overcome or at least mitigate them.
In fact, the argument could likely be made that patrol rifles will eventually be subject to the same sort of litigious scrutiny less-lethal devices and munitions once were. Some of us are old enough to remember when agencies were sued for not having a sufficient alternative to lethal force readily available at the patrol level. Like failure to train lawsuits, failure to equip will be a thing at some point (if they haven’t been already).
The most obvious performance takeaway, in my eyes at least, is a need to improve comms and movement. I don’t know BCPD’s P&Ps, nor have I dug through any precedent the Fourth Circuit might have set down, but a strong argument could be made that responding officers should have moved directly to end the threat (i.e., as in an active shooter or hostage rescue situation). To be fair, I have heard others contend it should have been treated as an armed and barricaded situation — though I’m not entirely sure that could reasonably be expected once Erb left the bus and took cover behind the van.
There are some kudos to be given here, and some WTFs also. Let’s be ruthlessly critical of the events, without being unnecessarily condescending toward/protective of the officers involved, in order to learn as we prise out both.
Note: there are those who have asked why we have only seen one officer’s body camera. There are at least two possible reasons for that. One is simply that not all officers have one. BCPD has nearly 2,000 sworn officers; they’ve advised in an official statement that issuing body cams to every patrol officer is an ongoing effort. A second reason could be that at least one undercover officer (that we know of) was at the scene. It’s possible that affected the disclosure reasoning. There could be other reasons as well.
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About the Author: It might not be too surprising that David Reeder, who never met a $50 word he didn’t like, one of the “leaders” of the pedagogic and frequently obstreperous Breach Bang Clear team — insomuch as they have a leader (the terms orchestra conductor and rodeo clown are equally apropos). A former POG who tastes like chicken, Reeder cannot play the harmonica. He founded Breach-Bang-Clear quite accidentally at his young son’s behest several years ago. He is the Mad Duo’s Chief Wretched Flunky and Breach-Bang-Clear’s HMFIC. A LEO for many years and former AF Security Forces SNCO, he was an O/C at the National Homeland Security Training Center for many years and a longtime MOUT instructor at the Bold Lighting UWS. Reeder has appeared on Fox News Business and written for a number of publications, from US News & World Report and Military.com to RECOIL Magazine and Soldier Systems Daily. All of that sounds way cooler than it actually is. You can read more about him here. Follow his banality on Instagram, @davidreederwrites.
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