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Ltryptophan's avatar

How do police shoot in urban areas?

Asked by Ltryptophan (9102 points ) April 26th, 2010

Say you are a cop in an urban/suburban setting, and it is time to shoot at the bad guy who is in a yard or other similar setting. Now what? Unload into the populated darkness around a persons house with windows in the not so distant distance. Obviously a criminal who deserves to be shot at is not going to use the same level of discretion, so do you sort of aim down so that if a bullett doesn’t hit where you want it to hit it will at least be on a downward path?

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13 Answers

Kiev749's avatar

my neighbor is a local patrol officer and we were talking about this the other night.
if you have good aim, shoulder shots, to take out the arm with the gun in it and normally, the bad guy as well. if not a good shot, you take a leg shot in hopes to bring down the bad guy and make him lose his focus on aiming at you. however. Shooting is a last resort. only to be used when all other options are eliminated.

Bugabear's avatar

Now a days don’t cops Taser people?

JeffVader's avatar

@Bugabear I believe so…. personally I prefer a good dose of pepper spray though :)

stallion44107's avatar

the problem with the concept is this… police train for such scenarios. but when they actually happen,that training for the most part goes out the window. first of all ,you may not run into a situation like that in your whole career. and if and when it does come up there are so many variables as to make that training useless. you never know. what condition are you in at the time? what is your stress level at the time? are you running after a perp?
is the perp moving at the time you take your shot? are you?
what is the level of your competance with your weapon? are you shooting at an adult? a teen? is it dark? bright daylight and your facing the sun?
are there non combatants closeby? relatives screaming? dog trying to bite your leg?
good luck,officer. you have my sympathy.

PandoraBoxx's avatar

In my neighborhood there would be police at all entrances to the yard, which would mean alley, both side yards. If he wasn’t armed, they would bring him down. I have seen perps on the ground with a foot holding his head to the concrete while he was cuffed. If the perp was armed, taser first, then gun. Pursuit is never alone, and a herding technique is used.

tinyfaery's avatar

Badly. I see needless death by cop here much too regularly

Snarp's avatar

I really can’t imagine aiming at the shoulder or the leg to try to disable without killing. Guns are for killing, not for wounding and there’s enough chance that you are going to kill or seriously injure the individual no matter where you aim. I don’t think it makes any sense to shoot to wound in most situations. I’m betting they aim for the center of the chest to get the best chance of hitting the suspect in general as well as the highest likelihood of stopping the suspect.

As for stray bullets, I think they happen, you just want to have the best aim you have, and again, aim for the center of the chest, maximizing the amount of body likely to intercept your bullet. It would also make sense to use some type of hollow point engineered to maximize bullet spread to prevent shots going through the suspect and into someone or something else.

That’s all conjecture though, so now we await @john65pennington’s expert response.

El_Cadejo's avatar

This just happened yesterday in my town. A guy was held up in his house for 12 hours or so with the cops outside. He had a hand gun i believe. After 8 hours or something they tear gassed the house, then they entered. Tried to take him down, he fired, they killed him. But all this happened in a house, not out on the streets in a crowded area so its kind of different i guess.

missingbite's avatar

Very carefully with a lot of practice and training. Not at all like you see on television and very well I might add. When was the last time you heard about a cop killing an innocent person with a stray bullet. Then compare that number to the number of people killed with stay bullets from drive by gang bangers.

CMaz's avatar

First rule of thumb. Aim at center mass.
Second rule of thumb. Do not shoot unless there is no other option. In which case collateral damage is no longer a concern at the moment.

Unlike the movies. It is rarely done. Many police officers go their entire career without shooting at another person.

john65pennington's avatar

Here is a firsthand example for an officer thats been there, done that:

A home in-progress burglary had been reported to the police. this occured in a county adjacent mine. being a burglary detective for 13 years, i recognized the description of the get a way car and the location it parks in my county. i immediately went to the interstate exit, i felt the burglars would exit. in approx. 6 minutes, i was correct. here came the burglary suspect vehicle. i followed the vehicle into a projects area. the vehicle was occupied by one person. his car stopped beside a dumpster in the projects. i ordered the suspect out of the vehicle. he ran. i ran. suspect finally stopped at the top of a grassy area in the projects and pointed a pistol at me. i raised my 12 guage shotgun at him, ready to fire. i knew the suspect and called him by name to drop his weapon. he pulled the hammer back on his pistol. i was about to shoot the suspect, when a child walked up behind him. i shouted, “james, there is a child behind you, drop your weapon”. he did not look, but instead ran off into a wooded area and was later apprehended.

Split second decisions, common sense, a cool head and sometimes raw bravery can make or break a situation in a “shoot or no shoot” situation.

I was blessed that day and i know it. my police training had taught me to wait just one more second before firing my weapon. in this case, i am thankful for the training and that no one was injured.

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