By David C. Couper
Aug 5, 2016
I received the following comment from a police officer in Sweden after my recent post “Using Force: A Reflection and Some Suggestions for Police.” I think these comments bear publishing here as a post.
“Dear Chief: It’s not just Czech police who shoot at the legs. It’s definitely not a novel or forward-thinking policy, it’s just the way it’s done here. I’m no expert on the rest of Europe, but I know the legs are the primary target in Sweden and the rest of Scandinavia. Center-mass shooting is only when absolutely warranted or the legs aren’t feasible due to too much or too little distance.
“The first time I encountered the American mantra of ‘shooting at the legs, firing warning shots, aiming your gun without intent to fire, but only as a grave warning… that’s only in the movies,’ I was floored.
“Our police do ALL those things even though these practices are apparently deemed unrealistic and unprofessional by police in the U.S. We ‘violate’ all your sacred cows — not out of carelessness but as very deliberate policy. Needless to say it’s working just fine.
“I wonder why these practices are not only so completely opposite one another but also are seemingly unaware of each other. Probably it has a lot to do with the prevalence of armed citizens in the U.S. but that can in no way explain or justify U.S. police not even being ALLOWED to shoot a confused, mentally ill, knife wielding man in the leg, then back up and reassess. Needless to say, police around here are a lot safer with their guns…”