The FBI has alerted Chicago-area law enforcement to a threat issued by street gangs who have “formed a pact” to “shoot on-sight any cop that has a weapon drawn on any subject in public.”
According to reports, the FBI warning cites more than 30 involved gangs whose members, officials say, have been actively surveilling officers as they work, supposedly to film an officer pointing a firearm at a subject and subsequently being shot by observing gang members per the pact.
During at least one interview, Chicago Police Superintendent David Brown highlighted the fact that more than 50 Chicago officers have been shot or shot at in the last year—a far greater number than any previous year—clearly indicating that law enforcement is being targeted. “I think it’s more than a suggestion that people are seeking to do harm to cops,” Brown said.
“This threat serves as a crucial reminder that officers must stay actively focused not just on the threat in front of them, but on the threats that may surround them,” says Calibre Press’s Jim Glennon. “Staying safe requires 360 degrees of situational awareness, which can prove to be very challenging for a number of reasons,” he said. Regardless, those challenges must be considered ahead of time in training and during moments of ‘when/then thinking’ and somehow overcome.”
Here are two things to consider relative to threats that may lurk in the periphery:
1. Tactical realities. It’s not always possible to have backup immediately available when you find yourself forced to draw down on a suspect. Given the current gang threat, you need to weigh your options if you’re a solo officer…even for a short period of time. You need to consider who is around you. Does your observation of the scene make you believe dangerous on-lookers may be lurking? Are you and the suspect alone or is there a crowd? If there’s a crowd, is it even remotely feasible for you to wait for backup to arrive before you engage so that other officers can watch for surrounding threats while the primary subject is handled? If not, weigh the pros and cons of choosing to engage alone.
2. Human factors. In high stress armed encounters, it’s extremely common for vision to zero in on the threat in front of you. This can happen to both contact officers and cover officers. You need to proactively remind yourself to scan your surroundings whenever possible, something which may not come naturally when you’re engaged in the pressurized moment. “Similar to vehicle pursuits, you must train yourself to intermittently break funneled focus by consciously scanning,” Glennon advises. “You can’t allow yourself to be myopically focused for a long period of time or you run the very real risk of completely missing a threat that’s outside of your channeled line of sight.”