© Street Combatives 2016
21 Foot Rule So many guys I talk to have this wild Hollywood imagination of the realities and the glamors of a gun fight.  they think that having a gun in the cure all of all eminent bad things that can happen.  Because of their pure ignorance, here is an excellent article of the realities of an actual gun fight,,   enjoy. ____________________________________

Edged Weapon Defense: Is or was the 21-foot rule valid?

(From: PoliceOne.com June 13, 2005)

For more than 20 years now, a concept called the 21-Foot Rule has been a core component in training officers

to defend themselves against edged weapons.

Originating from research by Salt Lake City trainer Dennis Tueller and popularized by the Street Survival

Seminar and the seminal instructional video "Surviving Edged Weapons," the "rule" states that in the time it

takes the average officer to recognize a threat, draw his sidearm and fire 2 rounds at center mass, an average

subject charging at the officer with a knife or other cutting or stabbing weapon can cover a distance of 21 feet.

The implication, therefore, is that when dealing with an edged-weapon wielder at anything less than 21 feet an

officer had better have his gun out and ready to shoot before the offender starts rushing him or else he risks

being set upon and injured or killed before he can draw his sidearm and effectively defeat the attack.

Recently a Force Science News member, a deputy sheriff from Texas, suggested that "it's time for a fresh look"

at the underlying principles of edged-weapon defense, to see if they are "upheld by fresh research."  He

observed that "the knife culture is growing, not shrinking," with many people, including the homeless,

"carrying significant blades on the street." He noted that compared to scientific findings, "anecdotal evidence is

not good enough when an officer is in court defending against a wrongful death claim because he felt he had to

shoot some[body] with a knife at 0-dark:30 a.m."

As a prelude to more extensive studies of edged-weapon-related issues, the Force Science Research Center at

Minnesota State University-Mankato has responded by reexamining the 21-Foot Rule, arguably the most

widely taught and commonly remembered element of edged-weapon defense.

After testing the Rule against FSRC's landmark findings on action-reaction times and conferring with selected

members of its National and Technical Advisory Boards, the Center has reached these conclusions, according to

Executive Director Dr. Bill Lewinski:

1. Because of a prevalent misinterpretation, the 21-Foot Rule has been dangerously corrupted.

2. When properly understood, the 21-Foot Rule is still valid in certain limited circumstances.

3. For many officers and situations, a 21-foot reactionary gap is not sufficient.

4. The weapon that officers often think they can depend on to defeat knife attacks can't be relied upon to

protect them in many cases.

5. Training in edged-weapon defense should by no means be abandoned.

1. MISINTERPRETATION

"Unfortunately, some officers and apparently some trainers as well have 'streamlined' the 21-Foot Rule in a way

that gravely distorts its meaning and exposes them to highly undesirable legal consequences," Lewinski says.

Namely, they have come to believe that the Rule means that a subject brandishing an edged weapon when

positioned at any distance less than 21 feet from an officer can justifiably be shot.

For example, an article on the 21-Foot Rule in a highly respected LE magazine states in its opening sentence

that "a suspect armed with an edged weapon and within twenty-one feet of a police officer presents a deadly

threat." The "common knowledge" that "deadly force against him is justified" has long been "accepted in police

and court circles," the article continues.

Statements like that, Lewinski says, "have led officers to believe that no matter what position they're in, even

with their gun on target and their finger on the trigger, they are in extreme danger at 21 feet. They believe they

don't have a chance of surviving unless they preempt the suspect by shooting.

"However widespread that contaminated interpretation may be, it is NOT accurate. A suspect with a knife

within 21 feet of an officer is POTENTIALLY a deadly threat. He does warrant getting your gun out and ready.

But he cannot be considered an actual threat justifying deadly force until he takes the first overt action in

furtherance of intention--like starting to rush or lunge toward the officer with intent to do harm. Even then

there may be factors besides distance that influence a force decision.

"So long as a subject is stationary or moving around but not advancing or giving any indication he's about to

charge, it clearly is not legally justified to use lethal force against him. Officers who do shoot in those

circumstances may find themselves subject to disciplinary action, civil suits or even criminal charges."

Lewinski believes the misconception of the 21-Foot Rule has become so common that some academies and in-

service training programs now are reluctant to include the Rule as part of their edged-weapon defense

instruction for fear of non-righteous shootings resulting.

"When you talk about the 21-Foot Rule, you have to understand what it really means when fully articulated

correctly in order to judge its value as a law enforcement concept," Lewinski says. "And it does not mean 'less

than 21 feet automatically equals shoot.'"

2. VALIDITY

In real-world encounters, many variables affect time, which is the key component of the 21-Foot Rule.  What is

the training skill and stress level of the officer? How fast and agile is he? How alert is he to preliminary cues to

aggressive movement? How agile and fast is the suspect? Is he drunk and stumbling, or a young guy in a ninja

outfit ready to rock and roll? How adept is the officer at drawing his holstered weapon? What kind of holster

does he have? What's the terrain? If it's outdoors, is the ground bumpy or pocked with holes? Is the suspect

running on concrete, or on grass, or through snow and across ice? Is the officer uphill and the suspect downhill,

or vice versa? If it's indoors, is the officer at the foot of stairs and the suspect above him, or vice versa? Are

there obstacles between them? And so on.

These factors and others can impact the validity of the 21-Foot Rule because they affect an attacking suspect's

speed in reaching the officer, and the officer's speed in reacting to the threatening charge.

The 21-Foot Rule was formulated by timing subjects beginning their headlong run from a dead stop on a flat

surface offering good traction and officers standing stationary on the same plane, sidearm holstered and

snapped in. The FSRC has extensively measured action and reaction times under these same conditions.

Among other things, the Center has documented the time it takes officers to make 20 different actions that are

common in deadly force encounters. Here are some of the relevant findings that the FSRC applied in

reevaluating the 21-Foot Rule:

• Once he perceives a signal to do so, the AVERAGE officer requires 1.5 seconds to draw from a snapped Level

II holster and fire one unsighted round at center mass. Add 1/4 of a second for firing a second round, and

another 1/10 of a second for obtaining a flash sight picture for the average officer.

• The fastest officer tested required 1.31 seconds to draw from a Level II holster and get off his first unsighted

round. The slowest officer tested required 2.25 seconds.

• For the average officer to draw and fire an unsighted round from a snapped Level III holster, which is

becoming increasingly popular in LE because of its extra security features, takes 1.7 seconds.

• Meanwhile, the AVERAGE suspect with an edged weapon raised in the traditional "ice-pick" position can go

from a dead stop to level, unobstructed surface offering good traction in 1.5-1.7 seconds.

The "fastest, most skillful, most powerful" subject FSRC tested "easily" covered that distance in 1.27 seconds. 

Intense rage, high agitation and/or the influence of stimulants may even shorten that time, Lewinski observes.

Even the slowest subject "lumbered" through this distance in just 2.5 seconds.

Bottom line: Within a 21-foot perimeter, most officers dealing with most edged-weapon suspects are at a

decided - perhaps fatal - disadvantage if the suspect launches a sudden charge intent on harming them. 

"Certainly it is not safe to have your gun in your holster at this distance," Lewinski says, and firing in hopes of

stopping an activated attack within this range may well be justified.

But many unpredictable variables that are inevitable in the field prevent a precise, all-encompassing truism

from being fashioned from controlled "laboratory" research.

“If you shoot an edged-weapon offender before he is actually on you or at least within reaching distance, you

need to anticipate being challenged on your decision by people both in and out of law enforcement who do not

understand the sobering facts of action and reaction times," says FSRC National Advisory Board member Bill

Everett, an attorney, use-of-force trainer and former cop. "Someone is bound to say, 'Hey, this guy was 10 feet

away when he dropped and died. Why'd you have to shoot him when he was so far away from you?'"

Be able to articulate why you felt yourself or other innocent party to be in "imminent or immediate life-

threatening jeopardy and why the threat would have been substantially accentuated if you had delayed,"

Everett advises. You need specifically to mention the first articulable motion that indicated the subject was

about to attack and was beyond your ability to influence verbally."

And remember: No single 'rule' can arbitrarily be used to determine when a particular level of force is lawful.

The 21-Foot Rule has value as a rough guideline, illustrating the reactionary curve, but it is by no means an

absolute.

"The Supreme Court's landmark use-of-force decision, in Graham v. Connor, established a 'reasonableness'

standard," Everett reminds. "You'll be judged ultimately according to what a 'reasonable' officer would have

done. All of the facts and circumstances that make up the dynamics between you and the subject will be

evaluated."

Of course, some important facts may be subtle and now widely known or understood. That's where FSRC's

unique findings on lethal-force dynamics fit in. Explains Lewinski: "The FSRC's research will add to your ability

to articulate and explain the facts and circumstances and how they influenced your decision to use force."

3. MORE DISTANCE.

"In reality, the 21-Foot Rule--by itself--may not provide officers with an adequate margin of protection," says

Dr. Bill Lewinski, FSRC's executive director. "It's easily possible for suspects in some circumstances to launch a

successful fatal attack from a distance greater than 21 feet."

Among other police instructors, John Delgado, retired training officer for the Miami-Dade (FL) PD, has

extended the 21-Foot Rule to 30 feet. "Twenty-one feet doesn't really give many officers time to get their gun

out and fire accurately," he says. "Higher-security holsters complicate the situation, for one thing. Some

manufacturers recommend 3,000 pulls to develop proficiency with a holster. Most cops don't do that, so it

takes them longer to get their gun out than what's ideal. Also shooting proficiency tends to deteriorate under

stress. Their initial rounds may not even hit."

Beyond that, there's the well-established fact that a suspect often can keep going from momentum, adrenalin,

chemicals and sheer determination, even after being shot. "Experience informs us that people who are shot

with a handgun do not fall down instantly nor does the energy of a handgun round stop their forward

movement," states Chris Lawrence, team leader of DT training at the Ontario (Canada) Police College and an

FSRC Technical Advisory Board member. Says Lewinski: "Certain arterial or spinal hits may drop an attacker

instantly.

But otherwise a wounded but committed suspect may have the capacity to continue on to the officer's location

and complete his deadly intentions."  That's one reason why tactical distractions, which we'll discuss in a

moment, should play an important role in defeating an edged-weapon attack, even when you are able to shoot

to defend yourself.

"When working with bare-minimum margins, any delay in an officer responding to a deadly threat can equate

to injury or death," reinforces attorney and use-of-force trainer Bill Everett, an FSRC National Advisory Board

member. "So the officer must key his or her reaction to the first overt act indicating that a lethal attack is

coming.

"More distance and time give the officer not only more tactical options but also more opportunity to confirm

the attacker's lethal intention before selecting a deadly force response."

4. MISPLACED CONFIDENCE.

Relying on OC or a Taser for defeating a charging suspect is probably a serious mistake. Gary Klugiewicz, a

leading edged-weapon instructor and a member of FSRC's National Advisory Board, points out that firing out

Taser barbs may be an effective option in dealing with a threatening but STATIONARY subject.  But depending

on this force choice to stop a charging suspect could be disastrous.

With fast, on-rushing movement, "there's a real chance of not hitting the subject effectively and of not having

sufficient time" for the electrical charge--or for a blast of OC--to take effect before he is on you, Klugiewicz says.

Lewinski agrees, adding: "A rapid charge at an officer is a common characteristic of someone high on chemicals

or severely emotionally disturbed. More research is needed, but it appears that when a Taser isn't effective it is

most often with these types of suspects."

Smug remarks about offenders foolishly "bringing a knife to a gunfight" betray dangerous thinking about the

ultimate force option, too. Some officers are cockily confident they'll defeat any sharp-edged threat because

they carry a superior weapon: their service sidearm. This belief may be subtly reinforced by fixating on

distances of 21 or 30 feet, as if this is the typical reaction space you'll have in an edged-weapon encounter.

The truth is that where edged-weapon attacks are concerned, "close-up confrontations are actually the norm,"

points out Sgt. Craig Stapp, a firearms trainer with the Tempe (AZ) P.D. and a member of FSRC's Technical

Advisory Board. "A suspect who knows how to effectively deploy a knife can be extremely dangerous in these

circumstances. Even those who are not highly trained can be deadly, given the close proximity of the contact,

the injury knives are capable of, and the time it takes officers to process and react to an assault.

"At close distances, standing still and drawing are usually not the best tactics to employ and may not even be

possible." At a distance of 10 feet, a subject is less than half a second away from making the first cut on an

officer, Lewinski's research shows. Therefore, rather than relying on a holstered gun, officers must be trained in

hands-on techniques to deflect or delay the use of the knife, to control it and/or to remove it from the attacker's

grasp, or to buy time to get their gun out. These methods have to be simple enough to be learned by the average

officer.

Two techniques that bear reinforcement are illustrated in the well-known training video "Surviving Edged

Weapons", for which Gary Klugiewicz was a technical consultant. One is a deflection technique called Sweep

and Disengage. The other is a tactic for controlling the attacker's weapon hand, called by the acronym G.U.N.

(Grab...Undo...Neutralize).

Stapp strongly believes that training in edged-weapon defense should prepare an officer to deal psychologically

with getting cut or stabbed, a realistic probability with lag time, close encounters and desperate control

attempts. "Officers need to be trained to continue to fight," Stapp says. "They will not have time to stop and

assess how severe the wound is. You don't want them in the mind-set, 'I've been cut, I'm going to die.' They

must remain focused on stopping the attack, taking out the guy who is the threat to them."

Checking yourself over for injury after the offender is subdued is important, too, Klugiewicz says. "Some

survivors of edged-weapon attacks report that they were not aware of being cut or stabbed when the injury

occurred. They thought they had just been punched and didn't realize what really happened until later."

5. TRAINING. 

"Assuming it is presented accurately and in context with the many variables that shape knife encounters, the

21-Foot Rule can be a valuable training aid," Lewinski says. "As a role-playing exercise,  it provides a dramatic

and memorable demonstration of how fast an offender can close distance, and it can motivate officers to

improve their performance skills."

Experiment with it and you may conclude, like Delgado, that 21 feet is not enough of a safety margin for your

troops.

You might also use 21-Foot Rule exercises to test tactical methods for imposing lag time on offenders in order

to buy more reaction time for officers. These could range from using or creating obstacles (standing behind a

tree or shoving a chair between you and the offender) to moving yourself strategically.  You're probably familiar

with the Tactical L, for example, in which an officer moves laterally to a charging offender's line of attack. With

the right timing, this surprises and slows the attacker as he processes the movement and scrambles to redirect

his assault, and gives the officer opportunity to draw and get on target.

Lewinski favors a variation called the Tactical J. Here, instead of moving 90 degrees off line, the officer moves

obliquely forward at a 45-degree angle to the oncoming offender. "This tends to be more confusing to the

suspect and requires more of a radical change on his part to come after you," Lewinski says. "But the timing has

to be such that the suspect is fully committed to his charge and can't readily adjust to what you've done. That

takes lots of practice with a wide variety of training partners."

If nothing else, training with the 21-Foot Rule will help officers better estimate just how far 21 feet is.  Without

a good deal of practice, most can't accurately gauge that distance, Lewinski says, and thus tend to sabotage

appropriate defensive reactions.

Don't forget, though, that most edged-weapon attacks are "up close and personal." That means training must

include effective empty-hand-control techniques, close quarters shooting drills and weapon retention. "We

need to develop the ability to draw our sidearm, get on target and GET HITS extremely fast," while moving as a

diversionary measure if possible, says Stapp. "Close-range shooting--under 10 feet--will most effectively be

accomplished when an officer has developed the ability to get on target 'by feel,' without using his sights."

Lewinski also recommends drills to imprint rapid re-holstering techniques. Re-holstering may become

necessary if there's a sudden change in threat level--say the offender throws his weapon down and is no longer

presenting an imminent threat justifying deadly force--and the officer needs both hands free to deal with him.

There's little doubt that the "knife culture" and related attacks on officers are dangerously flourishing.  Edged-

weapon assaults are a staple of the news reports of police incidents from across the U.S. and Canada on the

website of FSRC's strategic partner, PoliceOne.com.

Recently an officer in New York City was slashed in the face during a fight that broke out on a man-with-a-gun

call...in Ohio, a state trooper fatally shot a berserk motorist who charged him with a hatchet... another offender,

who called 911 in Pennsylvania to report he was having a heart attack, ended up shot 13 times and killed after

commands and OC failed to stop him from lunging at a trooper with a chain saw...

In Calgary (Ont.) a blood-soaked man waved a bloody butcher knife over his head and charged at constables

who responded to a domestic.. a suspected rapist attacked a Chicago detective with a screwdriver after luring

him into an interrogation room by asking for a cigarette...in the reception area of a California prison, an inmate

serving time for trying to kill a cop stabbed a correctional officer to death with a shank...in Idaho, an out-of-

control teenager punched holes in the walls of his house with a 15-inch bayonet, then turned on a responding

officer with the blade and sliced his uniform before the cop shot him....

"Given today's environment, rather than draw back on edged-weapon training, officers and agencies should be

expanding it," Lewinski declares. "Edged-weapon attacks are serious and should be taken seriously by trainers,

officers and administrators alike. Finding out what works best in the way of realistic tactical defenses and then

training those tactics as broadly as possible has never been more needed."

Take this information for what it is worth. I'm not trying to dispute research that has already been published,

nor am I trying to take on any specific group or theory. This is merely what I have been told by a little fewer

than 200 survivors. Take it for what it is worth and use it as you please.

END
Street Combatives
Specializing in Close Quarter and Knife Combatives
© Street Combatives   2015
21 Foot Rule So many guys I talk to have this wild Hollywood imagination of the realities and the glamors of a gun fight.  they think that having a gun in the cure all of all eminent bad things that can happen.  Because of their pure ignorance, here is an excellent article of the realities of an actual gun fight,,   enjoy. ____________________________________

Edged Weapon Defense: Is or was the 21-foot rule valid?

(From: PoliceOne.com June 13, 2005)

For more than 20 years now, a concept called the 21-Foot

Rule has been a core component in training officers to

defend themselves against edged weapons.

Originating from research by Salt Lake City trainer Dennis

Tueller and popularized by the Street Survival Seminar

and the seminal instructional video "Surviving Edged

Weapons," the "rule" states that in the time it takes the

average officer to recognize a threat, draw his sidearm and

fire 2 rounds at center mass, an average subject charging

at the officer with a knife or other cutting or stabbing

weapon can cover a distance of 21 feet.

The implication, therefore, is that when dealing with an

edged-weapon wielder at anything less than 21 feet an

officer had better have his gun out and ready to shoot

before the offender starts rushing him or else he risks

being set upon and injured or killed before he can draw

his sidearm and effectively defeat the attack.

Recently a Force Science News member, a deputy sheriff

from Texas, suggested that "it's time for a fresh look" at

the underlying principles of edged-weapon defense, to see

if they are "upheld by fresh research."  He observed that

"the knife culture is growing, not shrinking," with many

people, including the homeless, "carrying significant

blades on the street." He noted that compared to scientific

findings, "anecdotal evidence is not good enough when an

officer is in court defending against a wrongful death

claim because he felt he had to shoot some[body] with a

knife at 0-dark:30 a.m."

As a prelude to more extensive studies of edged-weapon-

related issues, the Force Science Research Center at

Minnesota State University-Mankato has responded by

reexamining the 21-Foot Rule, arguably the most widely

taught and commonly remembered element of edged-

weapon defense.

After testing the Rule against FSRC's landmark findings

on action-reaction times and conferring with selected

members of its National and Technical Advisory Boards,

the Center has reached these conclusions, according to

Executive Director Dr. Bill Lewinski:

1. Because of a prevalent misinterpretation, the 21-Foot

Rule has been dangerously corrupted.

2. When properly understood, the 21-Foot Rule is still

valid in certain limited circumstances.

3. For many officers and situations, a 21-foot reactionary

gap is not sufficient.

4. The weapon that officers often think they can depend

on to defeat knife attacks can't be relied upon to protect

them in many cases.

5. Training in edged-weapon defense should by no means

be abandoned.

1. MISINTERPRETATION

"Unfortunately, some officers and apparently some

trainers as well have 'streamlined' the 21-Foot Rule in a

way that gravely distorts its meaning and exposes them to

highly undesirable legal consequences," Lewinski says.

Namely, they have come to believe that the Rule means

that a subject brandishing an edged weapon when

positioned at any distance less than 21 feet from an officer

can justifiably be shot.

For example, an article on the 21-Foot Rule in a highly

respected LE magazine states in its opening sentence that

"a suspect armed with an edged weapon and within

twenty-one feet of a police officer presents a deadly

threat." The "common knowledge" that "deadly force

against him is justified" has long been "accepted in police

and court circles," the article continues.

Statements like that, Lewinski says, "have led officers to

believe that no matter what position they're in, even with

their gun on target and their finger on the trigger, they are

in extreme danger at 21 feet. They believe they don't have

a chance of surviving unless they preempt the suspect by

shooting.

"However widespread that contaminated interpretation

may be, it is NOT accurate. A suspect with a knife within

21 feet of an officer is POTENTIALLY a deadly threat. He

does warrant getting your gun out and ready. But he

cannot be considered an actual threat justifying deadly

force until he takes the first overt action in furtherance of

intention--like starting to rush or lunge toward the officer

with intent to do harm. Even then there may be factors

besides distance that influence a force decision.

"So long as a subject is stationary or moving around but

not advancing or giving any indication he's about to

charge, it clearly is not legally justified to use lethal force

against him. Officers who do shoot in those circumstances

may find themselves subject to disciplinary action, civil

suits or even criminal charges."

Lewinski believes the misconception of the 21-Foot Rule

has become so common that some academies and in-

service training programs now are reluctant to include the

Rule as part of their edged-weapon defense instruction for

fear of non-righteous shootings resulting.

"When you talk about the 21-Foot Rule, you have to

understand what it really means when fully articulated

correctly in order to judge its value as a law enforcement

concept," Lewinski says. "And it does not mean 'less than

21 feet automatically equals shoot.'"

2. VALIDITY

In real-world encounters, many variables affect time,

which is the key component of the 21-Foot Rule.  What is

the training skill and stress level of the officer? How fast

and agile is he? How alert is he to preliminary cues to

aggressive movement? How agile and fast is the suspect?

Is he drunk and stumbling, or a young guy in a ninja outfit

ready to rock and roll? How adept is the officer at drawing

his holstered weapon? What kind of holster does he have?

What's the terrain? If it's outdoors, is the ground bumpy

or pocked with holes? Is the suspect running on concrete,

or on grass, or through snow and across ice? Is the officer

uphill and the suspect downhill, or vice versa? If it's

indoors, is the officer at the foot of stairs and the suspect

above him, or vice versa? Are there obstacles between

them? And so on.

These factors and others can impact the validity of the 21-

Foot Rule because they affect an attacking suspect's speed

in reaching the officer, and the officer's speed in reacting

to the threatening charge.

The 21-Foot Rule was formulated by timing subjects

beginning their headlong run from a dead stop on a flat

surface offering good traction and officers standing

stationary on the same plane, sidearm holstered and

snapped in. The FSRC has extensively measured action

and reaction times under these same conditions.

Among other things, the Center has documented the time

it takes officers to make 20 different actions that are

common in deadly force encounters. Here are some of the

relevant findings that the FSRC applied in reevaluating

the 21-Foot Rule:

• Once he perceives a signal to do so, the AVERAGE

officer requires 1.5 seconds to draw from a snapped Level

II holster and fire one unsighted round at center mass.

Add 1/4 of a second for firing a second round, and another

1/10 of a second for obtaining a flash sight picture for the

average officer.

• The fastest officer tested required 1.31 seconds to draw

from a Level II holster and get off his first unsighted

round. The slowest officer tested required 2.25 seconds.

• For the average officer to draw and fire an unsighted

round from a snapped Level III holster, which is

becoming increasingly popular in LE because of its extra

security features, takes 1.7 seconds.

• Meanwhile, the AVERAGE suspect with an edged

weapon raised in the traditional "ice-pick" position can go

from a dead stop to level, unobstructed surface offering

good traction in 1.5-1.7 seconds.

The "fastest, most skillful, most powerful" subject FSRC

tested "easily" covered that distance in 1.27 seconds. 

Intense rage, high agitation and/or the influence of

stimulants may even shorten that time, Lewinski

observes.

Even the slowest subject "lumbered" through this distance

in just 2.5 seconds.

Bottom line: Within a 21-foot perimeter, most officers

dealing with most edged-weapon suspects are at a decided

- perhaps fatal - disadvantage if the suspect launches a

sudden charge intent on harming them.  "Certainly it is

not safe to have your gun in your holster at this distance,"

Lewinski says, and firing in hopes of stopping an activated

attack within this range may well be justified.

But many unpredictable variables that are inevitable in

the field prevent a precise, all-encompassing truism from

being fashioned from controlled "laboratory" research.

“If you shoot an edged-weapon offender before he is

actually on you or at least within reaching distance, you

need to anticipate being challenged on your decision by

people both in and out of law enforcement who do not

understand the sobering facts of action and reaction

times," says FSRC National Advisory Board member Bill

Everett, an attorney, use-of-force trainer and former cop.

"Someone is bound to say, 'Hey, this guy was 10 feet away

when he dropped and died. Why'd you have to shoot him

when he was so far away from you?'"

Be able to articulate why you felt yourself or other

innocent party to be in "imminent or immediate life-

threatening jeopardy and why the threat would have been

substantially accentuated if you had delayed," Everett

advises. You need specifically to mention the first

articulable motion that indicated the subject was about to

attack and was beyond your ability to influence verbally."

And remember: No single 'rule' can arbitrarily be used to

determine when a particular level of force is lawful. The

21-Foot Rule has value as a rough guideline, illustrating

the reactionary curve, but it is by no means an absolute.

"The Supreme Court's landmark use-of-force decision, in

Graham v. Connor, established a 'reasonableness'

standard," Everett reminds. "You'll be judged ultimately

according to what a 'reasonable' officer would have done.

All of the facts and circumstances that make up the

dynamics between you and the subject will be evaluated."

Of course, some important facts may be subtle and now

widely known or understood. That's where FSRC's unique

findings on lethal-force dynamics fit in. Explains

Lewinski: "The FSRC's research will add to your ability to

articulate and explain the facts and circumstances and

how they influenced your decision to use force."

3. MORE DISTANCE.

"In reality, the 21-Foot Rule--by itself--may not provide

officers with an adequate margin of protection," says Dr.

Bill Lewinski, FSRC's executive director. "It's easily

possible for suspects in some circumstances to launch a

successful fatal attack from a distance greater than 21

feet."

Among other police instructors, John Delgado, retired

training officer for the Miami-Dade (FL) PD, has extended

the 21-Foot Rule to 30 feet. "Twenty-one feet doesn't

really give many officers time to get their gun out and fire

accurately," he says. "Higher-security holsters complicate

the situation, for one thing. Some manufacturers

recommend 3,000 pulls to develop proficiency with a

holster. Most cops don't do that, so it takes them longer to

get their gun out than what's ideal. Also shooting

proficiency tends to deteriorate under stress. Their initial

rounds may not even hit."

Beyond that, there's the well-established fact that a

suspect often can keep going from momentum, adrenalin,

chemicals and sheer determination, even after being shot.

"Experience informs us that people who are shot with a

handgun do not fall down instantly nor does the energy of

a handgun round stop their forward movement," states

Chris Lawrence, team leader of DT training at the Ontario

(Canada) Police College and an FSRC Technical Advisory

Board member. Says Lewinski: "Certain arterial or spinal

hits may drop an attacker instantly.

But otherwise a wounded but committed suspect may

have the capacity to continue on to the officer's location

and complete his deadly intentions."  That's one reason

why tactical distractions, which we'll discuss in a moment,

should play an important role in defeating an edged-

weapon attack, even when you are able to shoot to defend

yourself.

"When working with bare-minimum margins, any delay in

an officer responding to a deadly threat can equate to

injury or death," reinforces attorney and use-of-force

trainer Bill Everett, an FSRC National Advisory Board

member. "So the officer must key his or her reaction to

the first overt act indicating that a lethal attack is coming.

"More distance and time give the officer not only more

tactical options but also more opportunity to confirm the

attacker's lethal intention before selecting a deadly force

response."

4. MISPLACED CONFIDENCE.

Relying on OC or a Taser for defeating a charging suspect

is probably a serious mistake. Gary Klugiewicz, a leading

edged-weapon instructor and a member of FSRC's

National Advisory Board, points out that firing out Taser

barbs may be an effective option in dealing with a

threatening but STATIONARY subject.  But depending on

this force choice to stop a charging suspect could be

disastrous.

With fast, on-rushing movement, "there's a real chance of

not hitting the subject effectively and of not having

sufficient time" for the electrical charge--or for a blast of

OC--to take effect before he is on you, Klugiewicz says.

Lewinski agrees, adding: "A rapid charge at an officer is a

common characteristic of someone high on chemicals or

severely emotionally disturbed. More research is needed,

but it appears that when a Taser isn't effective it is most

often with these types of suspects."

Smug remarks about offenders foolishly "bringing a knife

to a gunfight" betray dangerous thinking about the

ultimate force option, too. Some officers are cockily

confident they'll defeat any sharp-edged threat because

they carry a superior weapon: their service sidearm. This

belief may be subtly reinforced by fixating on distances of

21 or 30 feet, as if this is the typical reaction space you'll

have in an edged-weapon encounter.

The truth is that where edged-weapon attacks are

concerned, "close-up confrontations are actually the

norm," points out Sgt. Craig Stapp, a firearms trainer with

the Tempe (AZ) P.D. and a member of FSRC's Technical

Advisory Board. "A suspect who knows how to effectively

deploy a knife can be extremely dangerous in these

circumstances. Even those who are not highly trained can

be deadly, given the close proximity of the contact, the

injury knives are capable of, and the time it takes officers

to process and react to an assault.

"At close distances, standing still and drawing are usually

not the best tactics to employ and may not even be

possible." At a distance of 10 feet, a subject is less than

half a second away from making the first cut on an officer,

Lewinski's research shows. Therefore, rather than relying

on a holstered gun, officers must be trained in hands-on

techniques to deflect or delay the use of the knife, to

control it and/or to remove it from the attacker's grasp, or

to buy time to get their gun out. These methods have to be

simple enough to be learned by the average officer.

Two techniques that bear reinforcement are illustrated in

the well-known training video "Surviving Edged

Weapons", for which Gary Klugiewicz was a technical

consultant. One is a deflection technique called Sweep and

Disengage. The other is a tactic for controlling the

attacker's weapon hand, called by the acronym G.U.N.

(Grab...Undo...Neutralize).

Stapp strongly believes that training in edged-weapon

defense should prepare an officer to deal psychologically

with getting cut or stabbed, a realistic probability with lag

time, close encounters and desperate control attempts.

"Officers need to be trained to continue to fight," Stapp

says. "They will not have time to stop and assess how

severe the wound is. You don't want them in the mind-set,

'I've been cut, I'm going to die.' They must remain focused

on stopping the attack, taking out the guy who is the

threat to them."

Checking yourself over for injury after the offender is

subdued is important, too, Klugiewicz says. "Some

survivors of edged-weapon attacks report that they were

not aware of being cut or stabbed when the injury

occurred. They thought they had just been punched and

didn't realize what really happened until later."

5. TRAINING. 

"Assuming it is presented accurately and in context with

the many variables that shape knife encounters, the 21-

Foot Rule can be a valuable training aid," Lewinski says.

"As a role-playing exercise,  it provides a dramatic and

memorable demonstration of how fast an offender can

close distance, and it can motivate officers to improve

their performance skills."

Experiment with it and you may conclude, like Delgado,

that 21 feet is not enough of a safety margin for your

troops.

You might also use 21-Foot Rule exercises to test tactical

methods for imposing lag time on offenders in order to

buy more reaction time for officers. These could range

from using or creating obstacles (standing behind a tree

or shoving a chair between you and the offender) to

moving yourself strategically.  You're probably familiar

with the Tactical L, for example, in which an officer moves

laterally to a charging offender's line of attack. With the

right timing, this surprises and slows the attacker as he

processes the movement and scrambles to redirect his

assault, and gives the officer opportunity to draw and get

on target.

Lewinski favors a variation called the Tactical J. Here,

instead of moving 90 degrees off line, the officer moves

obliquely forward at a 45-degree angle to the oncoming

offender. "This tends to be more confusing to the suspect

and requires more of a radical change on his part to come

after you," Lewinski says. "But the timing has to be such

that the suspect is fully committed to his charge and can't

readily adjust to what you've done. That takes lots of

practice with a wide variety of training partners."

If nothing else, training with the 21-Foot Rule will help

officers better estimate just how far 21 feet is.  Without a

good deal of practice, most can't accurately gauge that

distance, Lewinski says, and thus tend to sabotage

appropriate defensive reactions.

Don't forget, though, that most edged-weapon attacks are

"up close and personal." That means training must

include effective empty-hand-control techniques, close

quarters shooting drills and weapon retention. "We need

to develop the ability to draw our sidearm, get on target

and GET HITS extremely fast," while moving as a

diversionary measure if possible, says Stapp. "Close-range

shooting--under 10 feet--will most effectively be

accomplished when an officer has developed the ability to

get on target 'by feel,' without using his sights."

Lewinski also recommends drills to imprint rapid re-

holstering techniques. Re-holstering may become

necessary if there's a sudden change in threat level--say

the offender throws his weapon down and is no longer

presenting an imminent threat justifying deadly force--

and the officer needs both hands free to deal with him.

There's little doubt that the "knife culture" and related

attacks on officers are dangerously flourishing.  Edged-

weapon assaults are a staple of the news reports of police

incidents from across the U.S. and Canada on the website

of FSRC's strategic partner, PoliceOne.com.

Recently an officer in New York City was slashed in the

face during a fight that broke out on a man-with-a-gun

call...in Ohio, a state trooper fatally shot a berserk

motorist who charged him with a hatchet... another

offender, who called 911 in Pennsylvania to report he was

having a heart attack, ended up shot 13 times and killed

after commands and OC failed to stop him from lunging at

a trooper with a chain saw...

In Calgary (Ont.) a blood-soaked man waved a bloody

butcher knife over his head and charged at constables who

responded to a domestic.. a suspected rapist attacked a

Chicago detective with a screwdriver after luring him into

an interrogation room by asking for a cigarette...in the

reception area of a California prison, an inmate serving

time for trying to kill a cop stabbed a correctional officer

to death with a shank...in Idaho, an out-of-control

teenager punched holes in the walls of his house with a 15-

inch bayonet, then turned on a responding officer with the

blade and sliced his uniform before the cop shot him....

"Given today's environment, rather than draw back on

edged-weapon training, officers and agencies should be

expanding it," Lewinski declares. "Edged-weapon attacks

are serious and should be taken seriously by trainers,

officers and administrators alike. Finding out what works

best in the way of realistic tactical defenses and then

training those tactics as broadly as possible has never

been more needed."

Take this information for what it is worth. I'm not trying

to dispute research that has already been published, nor

am I trying to take on any specific group or theory. This is

merely what I have been told by a little fewer than 200

survivors. Take it for what it is worth and use it as you

please.

END
   Street Combatives      Specializing in Close Quarter and Knife Combatives