Cops and Active Shooter Response
TL:DR We have some bad-ass cops in this country, they are in the war zone every day again those with mental health problems, who are willing to kill others.
I have been reading a ton of trash from people who have no fucking clue what they are talking about, regarding the cops and how they have responded to recent and past active shooter incidents. And to be honest most of it is just that, trash. But it does make me want to talk a little about the police and not the shooters or victims.
I will use three different incidents and how they were handled. The first will be the Louisville, Kentucky at the Old National Bank on April 10, 2023; the Covenant School shooting in Nashville, Tennessee at The Covenant School on March 27, 2023; and the Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas on May 24, 2002.
Most of the trash talk centers around the Robb Elementary School shooting, and how the cops just stood in the halls waiting for orders. Most people are calling cops cowards, but this is where most people are clueless.
First, everyone needs to remember, that the average police officer will very likely go through their entire career without ever once pulling the trigger of their service weapon (except for practice).
Many Americans believe it is common for police officers to fire their guns. About three-in-ten adults estimate that police fire their weapons a few times a year while on duty, and more than eight in ten (83%) estimate that the typical officer has fired his or her service weapon at least once in their career, outside of firearms training or on a gun range, according to a recent Pew Research Center national survey.
In fact, only about a quarter (27%) of all officers say they have ever fired their service weapon while on the job, according to a separate Pew Research Center survey conducted by the National Police Research Platform. The survey was conducted May 19-Aug. 14, 2016, among a nationally representative sample of 7,917 sworn officers working in 54 police and sheriff’s departments with 100 or more officers.
So when an incident like an active shooter occurs, not all officers will respond the way Officer Cory “CJ” Galloway and Officer Nicholas Wilt from the Louisville Metro Police Department (LMPD) or like Michael Collazo, Rex Engelbert, and Jeffrey Mathes of the Nashville Police Department did.
Let’s break this down Barney style for those of you who are pissed off right now and are feverishly cursing me out and Googling all my data (hint I put the sources at the end of this post), and first talk about running towards gunfire instead of away like human instinct is telling you. When you hear a gunshot, it is human instinct to first look in the direction of noise and at the same time, either drop down or seek shelter. The next thing is to enter crisis mode, either call 911 and hysterically scream into the phone or maybe you are the type that will curl up in a ball and start to cry. Then there are those individuals that duck, seek shelter, identify where the threat is, and then move forward towards the threat in an attempt to subdue the threat by any means necessary.
You have to train to do the latter, as instinct is to seek shelter. The same applies to firefighters, where the normal human instinct is not to run into a burning building. It takes a special type of person and then it takes training on top of that.
You can not expect every police officer to run toward the gunfire.
Here is part #1 of the 911 calls for this Louisville incident - 1 hour in length
Here is part #2 of the 911 calls for this Louisville incident - 23 minutes in length
You need to understand that the 911 operator has already sent officers to the address and they are trying to get information from the callers. This information is critical to the officers who are arriving at the incident.
Running toward the gunfire comes from training and character, the training can be learned, but for the character, you either have it or not. You might be a role model cop, but when something like this happens, you can’t handle the pressure, and your natural instinct to run and hide kicks in. As for training, not all officers are trained the same and not all officers are expected to run towards gunfire. If you train in the shooter house or on Logan’s Alley often, then you will likely run towards the gunfire as that is what you were trained to do. And you were trained to work through the fear and press on. If you are in the military (depending on the branch of service) you might have also been trained to run towards the sound of gunfire. This is where the guts kick in, lol.
For the Louisville bank shooting, the officers were dispatched at 0838 and were engaged in active gunfire at 0841 and one of the responding officers was shot by 0842. That is 3-4 minutes that you have to quickly decide if today is a good day to fucking die. I know that is something you hear in war movies, but it is true. You don’t have time to sit and think about it. You need to react and that is where the training comes into play. In the Marine Corps, we used to say that we train like we fight, meaning we try to make training as real as possible.
I had just turned 19 years old, married my high school sweetheart and we were starting our new life together. One of the very first things I had to do was make a will and a DNR. Can you imagine having to do that at such a young age? In the military, you are likely going to at some point face the fact that you could die today, and that doesn’t always mean in combat. In fact, from 2006-2020, more service members died in training accidents than in combat. That is 5,605 died in training or accidents and 2,729 were killed in combat.
For police officers, well all first responders actually, have to understand that they could die today, just like that.
This is the official footage of the body cameras worn by LMPD Officers Wilt and Galloway
Alright, let’s go and watch the body cam footage, of these two officers (Galloway and Wilt), if you were lucky enough to get the videos that have them arriving at the scene, you can not only see and hear that Wilt is being actively trained, but also how fluid something like this situation can be. They stopped the car and then they had to back up as they were being fired upon. Without any coaching, Wilt gets out of the car, instantly pulls on his service weapon, and closes the door. Officer Galloway is in the trunk getting his rifle. Wilt is ready to provide cover for Galloway as needed, keep in mind, they don’t know where the shooter is at yet. Galloway a five-year veteran of the police force, grabs his rifle and makes sure that there is a round in the chamber and ready to fire. I need to point out that Officer Wilt worked for the LaGrange Fire Department for seven years, so being a first responder is not something new to him.
Wearing only a vest for protection and Wilt armed with his service pistol and Galloway with an AR-15 style rifle, they move quickly towards the sound of gunfire. This was Wilt’s fourth day on patrol and he was following the lead of his training officer (Galloway) who took up a defensive position on the bottom of the steps. As they move towards the entrance of the bank, not knowing where the shooter was and not able to see through the glass panels on the bank, they move towards the door of the building and the shooter fired 9 shots, with one of the first three shots hitting officer Wilt in the head. Trying to move to safety, Officer Galloway looks back and can see that Wilt has been hit and either Galloway is also shot, or stumbles and rolls back to his feet and takes up a position on the bottom of another set of stairs.
Now this is a part that really rubs me the wrong way and I know it all comes down to money we can fix this really quickly instead of giving money to those who are overseas with their hands out who turn around and push the money in the pockets of our greedy politicians. Officer Wilt was armed with a pistol and a vest (which is designed to only protect vital organs of the chest) and for those who are not in the know, the biggest difference between a rifle and a pistol in a situation like this is distance and accuracy. A bullet from a rifle will go significantly further than a bullet from a pistol and remain accurate at that distance. If you have a pistol and are shooting say 100 feet at a target, at some point, the accuracy will fall off and no longer be accurate, depending on the distance, the weapon, and the ammunition.
I understand that ballistic helmets and better body protection are usually reserved for the SWAT teams, but these officers are seeing more and more events where they need this type of protection too. I’m not saying that a helmet would have protected Wilt, as I do not know the extent of his injuries, beyond being shot in the head. But here we go, running into a gunfight armed with a knife. If we are expecting these officers to run toward the gunfire, then we need to protect them the best we can. I’m not sure why there was only one rifle per police cruiser as well, there needs to be one rifle and one shotgun per officer in the car.
I can understand how they feel, I was on the shortlist to deploy to Desert Storm in 1990. I was too young to really notice how it was happening and what it is called, but at the time I was working a SIGINT mission in Homestead Florida. One of my Marine buddies from my platoon was pulled and deployed to Iraq. Sometime after that, it hit home when we had our first “frost call”, just another word for recall, in our case it was an exercise, but we did spend several hours updating paperwork and legal aid was there to help with wills for those that didn’t have one already. We were all told that we could be deployed anytime and that four Marines from our Company are already on their way. We went through all the injections at medical and the screenings to deploy. When we found out that we would not have any body armor issued to us, such as a flak jacket as the Marine Corps is desperately short on them, my wife and I started to look for them, and OMG they were pricey. They were like $500 which is what I made every two weeks as pay, but I still have bills to pay. This was way before the internet so locating them wasn’t easy either. In fact, ballistic vests were not new, but certainly were not issued to every police officer back in the early 90s either.
You need to also understand that the safety priorities for most police departments are categorized as Victims & Hostages first, then Civilians, then Officers, and finally the shooter. If you watch the body camera footage of The Covenant School in Nashville, Tennessee, the shooter shot 152 rounds before they were neutralized by police officers. Before the shooter arrives at the school they drive right by a playground full of children playing. If the shooter had decided to shoot there first, there would be a much larger death toll.
Body Camera Footage
If you watch the body cam footage, you see a group of police officers from different units, all coming together and relying on their training.
In this case, Officer Rex Engelbert, fired four times neutralizing the threat, Officer Michael Collazo fire an additional four shots from his 9mm service weapon.
But I want to get back to the trash talk.
Much of the trash talk is about the Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas shooting, where the police officers stood in the hallways for over an hour. And that isn’t on the officers, but on their leadership where no one was taking control. But let’s look at this a little closer, if there isn’t any leadership, then the boots on the ground have no clue where to go and what to do. I’m sure there were a couple of officers who were ready and felt that today was a good day to die. Those who were in charge dropped the ball and no one picked it up. If you are an officer and you say screw it I’m going to go in there guns a blazing. You could first of all get shot, which might not be paid for by the police department, as they might fire you for not following orders. Second, if you shot someone either innocent or the shooter, you might be criminally and liable held responsible because you didn’t follow orders. And if you died while going against orders, your family may not get any death benefits because you went against orders. You need to realize that a cop makes around $50K-60K a year, depending on where they work. That is the national average of $54,132 a year for the average person in the United States. And like it or not, the overwhelming majority of us work, to make money and to provide for our family. If you decide to go in guns a blazing, then you might put all that in jeopardy, and in today’s sue-happy world, you would likely rack up a few lawsuits against you as well, all for doing what was right.
So now you are standing in the hallway of the school, currently, there are no shots being fired. Your leadership is asleep at the wheel, what do you do? Well, that comes back to character and your training. In this particular case, leadership fell apart, and it took an officer from U.S. Customs and Border Protection to stand up and lead the charge. This is what happens when you have re-elected the same ineffective sheriff for the past 30 years or the police chief is the same for 30 years. Things get stale, things fall between the cracks and I’m sorry but active shooter training is always changing and always in a state of flex.
In the case of Uvalde, you have a Sheriff, which is an elected position, and you have a police department that is separate from the sheriff department, there were 376 sworn police officers who responded to the incident, and no one to lead them. But it gets worse for Uvalde, they also have a School District Police Chief, Pedro “Pete” Arredondo, and it was his job to be the man in charge, and obviously, he was totally clueless on how to do that. Sadly, it really all came down to politics. But when you start to peel the layers of this onion, you find out that eight years prior to this incident, Arredondo, was demoted from his previous job as Assistant Chief to Commander, a position he held in 2014 with the Webb County Sheriff’s Department. It was stated that he doesn’t work well with others and “He just didn’t fit the qualifications or the work that I set out for him,”. This explains why the best person to lead this incident was Sheriff Nolasco, who stayed at another crime scene as the school crime scene was supposedly under control. Basically, it was a shitshow and 376 officers who were looking for leadership didn’t find it, and that resulted in 21 people losing their lives. I’m sure those in the leadership positions are all nice people and fun to drink a beer with, but they were not the correct people to lead others into battle. The Uvalde videos clearly show that they had the people, the firepower, and the equipment to take control of that school and another dozen schools just like it if they wanted to.
For many, they take an oath and that oath means something to them and that oath never expires. There is a calling that some people feel, and that calling is to be part of something bigger than yourself. In my case, I wanted to be a Marine since I was about 9 years old. I don’t know why, I just did. It was an extremely difficult choice for me to leave the Corps behind me. For me, it was a personal choice, where, I wanted to be with my young family and the career planner wanted to send me back to the fleet so I can deploy again. I left a command that was on a 6-month in and 6-month out rotation and then I went to be an instructor, working 10-12 hour days 6-7 days a week. So I left the Corps and even today some 25 years later, I still miss it.
When I got out I went to the local PD and FD and got their info, as I wanted to still be more than myself. I have at one time settled on being a reserve police officer for the Fredericksburg PD, but my medical issues decided to get in the way, stopping any plans for that. But that wasn’t it for me, I was a youth sports coach, I was a cub and boy scout leader, I sat on several boards for local non-profits and I got involved in other ways that didn’t have such an impact on my health. Enough about me, let’s talk about the reason why these shooters did what they did, and that all boils down to mental health.
These shooters have some kind of mental defect, as a normal person would not grab a gun and go shoot up a school. These weren’t shooting sprees that were a reaction to something that happened, these were all planned and in some cases live streamed.
The Louisville shooter showed the entire incident on the live stream. It took just one minute for a gunman to complete his deadly rampage before he stopped and waited for police to arrive, according to footage of the massacre described by a city official to CNN.
The video begins by showing an AR-15-style weapon, followed by a worker in the bank saying good morning to the gunman, the official said.
“You need to get out of here,” the shooter is heard saying to the woman on the live stream, which has been taken down by Instagram’s parent company Meta.
The gunman then tries to shoot her in the back but can’t because the safety is on and the weapon still needs to be loaded, the official said. Once the shooter loads the weapon properly and takes the safety off, he shoots the worker in the back, the official said. Her condition is not known.
The assailant then continues his rampage, firing at workers while they tried to outrun him, the official said. The shooter does not go to other populated floors of the bank, the official said.
Once the shooter is done firing, he sits down in the lobby area that looks out onto East Main Street, apparently waiting for police, the official said.
The killer waits about a minute and a half before police arrive – a swift response praised by local leaders – and a gunfight ensues, the official said. The gunman was struck and killed.
The entire incident – from when the gunman started shooting to when he was killed – lasted about nine minutes, Louisville Police Lt. Col. Aaron Cromwell said.
And while we are talking about shooting sprees, it isn’t the damn gun, the gun is a tool and nothing more. A sick individual will find another way to carry out their rampage if they don’t have access to a gun. Furthermore, it can’t be the gun, I own several and for the past 30-plus years, they have sat there and never once loaded themselves and went out on the town, just shooting shit. Sorry, for my sick sense of humor.