NYPD Announces Plan To Buy Heavy-Duty Vests And Ballistics Helmets For Police Officers
On July 20, 2016, Pat Lynch, the head of the NYPD Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association (PBA), asked the city to procure semi-automatic rifles which would be secured in police vehicles and available in the case of an active shooter or terrorist incident. That request was rejected by the city.
On July 26, 2016, NYC Mayor Bill DeBlasio and Police Commissioner William Bratton announced the procurement of 4,000 tactical vests and 20,000 ballistic helmets in response the shooting of cops in Dallas. The story appears here in the Daily News http://www.nydailynews.com/new-york/nypd-spending-7-5m-heavy-duty-vests-helmets-officers-article-1.2725768
These two issues require separate responses.
Issue #1: Issuing rifles to Police Officers has been adamantly opposed by the city and even by former NYPD officials. Dan Modell, a former Tactical Unit Training Coordinator, wrote this:
“What of the active shooter? Generally, they are awkward, bullied sociopaths who target the unarmed and defenseless like the cowards they are. They certainly are not tactically ferocious warriors. When confronted, they fold or kill themselves. Officers have proved virtually without exception that they are, in fact, more than a match for these killers. They have what these killers invariably lack: heart. That and a 9-mm. more than suffices.”
With respect to Mr. Modell’s prior service, he couldn’t be more wrong. At this point in history the threats posed by the “awkward, bullied sociopaths” is not the issue. The issue is the motivated, well-trained, well-armed and well-protected assailant like the shooters in the Bataclan Theater in Paris or Micah Johnson in Dallas. A rifle is ballistically and tactically superior to a handgun, period. There is no counter-argument. Now there are other concerns and issues. Issuing new weapons requires additional and extensive training. In addition, the idea of securing rifles in the trunks of patrol cars does open up a discussion about how they will be secured against theft.
Conclusion #1: I have been behind a trigger for nearly 50 years. I became a firearms training instructor for the DEA in 1990 and was assigned as a primary firearms instructor at the DEA/FBI academy in Quantico. I have provided instruction to thousands of police officers, federal agents, military specialty units and police SWAT teams including the NYPD Emergency Services Unit. If I had to fight for my life against a well-trained and highly motivated adversary wearing body armor and using a rifle I would want to do it with an M-4 semi-auto carbine. The officers of the NYPD should be given the same opportunity.
Issue #2: Tactical vests and Kevlar helmets. Ok, no argument that additional protection is going to be a net positive. However, from the photos provided by the city of these vests it seems that we are talking about a vest carrier which holds rifle resistant plates (I hope in the front and in the back). These plates will stop most rifle rounds and provide an area of coverage of approximately 10” x 12” (that is my guess looking at the pictures) of protection over vital areas. On balance, some protection is better than none. The helmets are another issue. They are rated at level IIIa which means they will stop a 9mm bullet (and most other handgun rounds). They are not designed to stop a rifle bullet and the anecdotes of officers saved from rifle fire (like the officer in Orlando) should not be generalized. Those officers were saved by the shape of the helmet which deflected the rounds. Such deflections are an exception and not the rule.
Conclusion #2: Net positive. I have no doubt that officer’s lives will be saved by this equipment in some instances. More coverage would be better but a good start.
I believe that the NYPD failed to address the overriding issue – an issue that is not being discussed either by Pat Lynch or Commissioner Bratton – there is a need for an overhaul in the firearms training and tactical training given to the rank and file officers. One of the services offered by my firm – Global Security Group, Inc. – is a Tactical Shooting program for law enforcement officers. The basic marksmanship provided by the NYPD to its’ officers is the equivalent of our Basic Firearms Training Course. It is only the first step in learning armed combat. Officers must be taught how to shoot on the move with extreme accuracy and they need to be able to make critical decisions in a split second while under extreme stress. Most police departments do not provide this type of training at all. The NYPD certainly does not. This needs to change before more officers lives are lost.
Tactical Firearms Training – Police Officers and Law Enforcement
Please call 212-285-2400 for assistance with tactical firearms training for police officers and law enforcement personnel. You can also find additional information about tactical firearms training for law enforcement on these pages: http://globalsecuritygroup.com/training/firearms-training/