By Trey Rusk
Can you actually force someone to shoot you by using verbal commands? I say no. Verbal commands are the bedrock of street law enforcement.
I have arrived on a scene where an armed suspect has been cornered by police and the shouts from the police to drop the weapon is deafening. This is because the police do not want to shoot the suspect.
I realize that the police shouting commands toward a suspect may increase anxiety and adrenaline in an armed individual, but when the armed individual decided to pull a gun or a knife on a police officer, he has already messed up. Armed and threatening the police will get a person shot.
Many people say that this method is not fair to the mentally ill. I agree. The police have been tasked with dealing with mentally ill people for a couple of decades. Police are not health care professionals and by the time a specialty unit arrives to take care of the armed bat shit crazy person, it can be too late.
In my opinion, in the force continuum, verbal commands are first and foremost the best way to let someone know what they need to do to keep from being shot by police.
OK. I know some of you will say just back away to let the situation diffuse itself. I wish that it worked that way. It doesn't. The training I received showed that a person with a knife could close a gap of 20 feet and cut an officer before they unholstered and drew their handgun. It was so fast, that even if the officer were able to draw and shoot the offender, the forward momentum still allowed the crook to stab the officer and a bullet travels much faster than that.
Cops aren't super heroes.