A few days ago prosecutors in Pennsylvania released patrol car dashcam video of a gunfight that occurred on PA Rte 33 in Lehigh Valley (we posted as many details of that engagement we could in a previous OIS article). At the request of many of his students, Will Petty (lead instructor of Centrifuge Training, @centrifugetraining) recently posted some thoughts on the Event. Centrifuge Training is an organization that specializes in training LEOs and others to fight in and around vehicles. You will find his commentary below.
I’ve been asked multiple times now so here are some thoughts regarding the recently released PSP Route 33 video.
The troopers in the video are heroes and fighters. While defensive tactics / BJJ etc played a major and obvious role I’ll leave that break down to someone like Craig Douglas who is a true DT SME. I’m solely interested in lethal engagement around the vehicle.
Statistically, we (law enforcement) have a higher probability of a lethal engagement in and or around a vehicle than any other environment. The national average is currently at 60%, with state- or traffic-driven agencies usually in the 70-80%. A study published in 2014 articulates that 83% of all officers who are killed in the line of duty while conducting self-initiated activity die in or around vehicles. A study released in 2016 showed 37% of all officers ambushed (while not responding to a call) were ambushed while seated inside of their vehicle). That being said, know how to fight in and around vehicles. Don’t be the guy trying figure it out for the first time when it’s for all the marbles.
After studying thousands of stateside, LE vehicle-based gunfights and establishing scores of federal, state and local LE vehicle-based programs (VCQB), here are some consistent trends as they relate to this video.
1. It’s about the gun, not the vehicle. We say this at the start of every class. Hits make the bad guy go away and the longer the engagement takes, statistically you (or the people you care about) have a higher probability of being mortally wounded.
2. This engagement (like most vehicle-based engagements) was high intensity, short duration, and close proximity. Ensure your positional work is efficient, data-driven and works in close proximity.
3. Your movement must be athletic in motion, safe in the environment and tactical indecision. Always look to improve your position through movement but realize that improvement may simply be to a better position on the vehicle. I hear folks often say “get off the X” and while that is ideal in some cases, most of the time it is not feasible for vehicle-based LE engagements. Know how to do both. When you are in uniform, you are the X… know how to problem solve it if moving away is not readily available.
4. Be able to safely drive the gun within close proximity to others. A common theme with vehicle-based engagements is the presence of a restricted workspace. Know what that looks like and the pros and cons of all muzzle orientations. The gun can go up, out or down and the environment dictates that direction.
5. High ground wins fights… that being said, know how to work from the ground. The data shows a large number of dudes end up on the ground via slipping, falling, being shot, run over etc. Don’t church up your positional work i.e. you’re either fighting from your side, you back or your stomach. Know how to do it all and don’t end up there unless fate demands it of you.
6. Use the car. Regardless of what you believe about what vehicles will or will not stop from a ballistic standpoint… put as much of that mass immediately between you and the threat possible. Barricades, and in this specific instance the vehicle buys us time. What you do with that time will depend on your situation.
7. Port. No not the kind you drink the kind you make with your gun. Glass, seats, doors, etc. will deviate and soak up more rounds that you’d expect them too. Make a hole and continue to work that port until the desired results are produced.
8. Be able to run the gun injured. Due to the often very close proximity of these engagements, we find officers get tagged on a pretty regular basis.
9. If you have the ability to create holes you should have the ability (both the skill set and kit) to fix them. Also… be able to conduct your med work injured. Look to companies like Dark Angel Medical, LLC for training and well laid out on person kits.
10. Train. You can read all the posts, magazine articles, watch all the youtube videos etc you want. And while that is a start it does not substitute quality training. Ensure your training is tailored to the environment and job you will be forced to problem solve. We (Centrifuge Training LLC) run the VCQB program but I can also highly recommend companies like Talon Defense and Sage Dynamics.