Additional police articles by the author


in the 21st CENTURY

Chuck Klein, ©  2019

Published in the Fall 2019 issue of THE CHIEF OF POLICE magazine,
the Official Publication of The National Association of Chiefs of Police.

Also reprinted:  Law Officer Magazine, 30 Jun 2023

To fight the unbeatable foe,
To run where the brave dare not go,
To right the unrightable wrong;
And I know, if I remain true
To this glorious quest,
That my heart will lie peaceful and calm

When I’m laid to my rest (1)

The 20th Century saw policing, by means of mandatory training and certification, transition from a trade to a profession. Now, well into the 21st Century these trained specialists are facing new challenges brought about by the proliferation of social media and its power of political, and public interactions. Though this powerful influence is testing old concepts involving tactics the ethics and moralistic behavior of American police officers are not and never have been subject to variation.

The creation of Homeland Security, coupled with the threats of terrorist strikes, introduced a whole new level of law enforcement obligations that has put increasing pressure on America's first line of defense. Not only do police officers have to continue dealing with the common criminal, handle domestic disputes, traffic accidents and other "regular" duties, but the new intensity of possible massive attacks is heavy on the mind. In addition, law enforcement officers (LEO) are being required to tender life-saving acts including the administration of specialized drugs to over-dose victims, all the while knowing their every act and utterance will be monitored by public and/or private sector surveillance methods.

Added to all of this are back-of-the-mind worries of intentional, premeditated ambushes that significantly elevate stress levels. However, and this is a big however, the beat cops are constantly being tested - regardless of the pressure – to forsake their duty to adhere to their sworn obligations. No matter what the provocation or public opinion, American police officers have adhered (so far) to their primary responsibility to protect the citizenry - including even the most reprehensible of perps. The crux of this sworn duty includes maintaining the highest level of ethical behavior and the commitment to put one's self in harm's way if called upon to do so.

Notwithstanding safety, the law enforcement community might be better off returning to primary duties of protect, enforce the law and keep the peace. Forcing additional non-lethal arrest tools or life-saving devices/drugs on the already over-trained and weighted-duty-belt only encourages more resistance from the non-law-abiding and those who have self-inflicted their own conditions. Burdening LEOs with secondary obligations as requisites due to society’s desires to make patrol officers social-workers and medical saviors reduces basic duty abilities and increases stress levels.

Stress is inversely proportional to efficiency
and directly proportional to risk. 

Though courts have been hesitant to convict police officers of excessive force, this reluctance may change as ubiquitous cameras continue to witness use-of-force by our LEOs when that power is sometimes, at best, questionable. The conditions that contributed to this pattern may be a result of being overwhelmed by stress, complex responsibilities such as drug-abuser rescuer or perhaps training to a lower standard. Since the millennium, to be a police officer, almost no one is disqualified due to being obese, short, skinny and/or lack a superior physical strength and stamina. To compensate for these variations in a disparity of force compendium, all officers are trained to respond to the weakest-link level. In other words, they are trained to affect an arrest using the degree of force necessary by the puniest member of the force - what heretofore used to be considered excessive force. Regardless of whether this trend is politically or ideologically motivated, is not the issue, the thin blue line must not be broken.

Prior to this modern non-discriminatory hiring criteria, law enforcement officers, when confronted with an uncooperative subject, bodily knocked them to the ground. Back then, cops had to have the grit to face possible physical injury rather than conform to society’s image of a social worker. This shift in use-of-force seems to have created a criminal mindset, albeit subconsciously, that LEOs, per se, are afraid (restricted or unwilling) of mixing-it-up. That is to say, if the perps of the world have the outlook that they won’t have to face the possibility of painful bruises or broken limbs, they tend to resist arrest while believing that physically assaulting a police officer will improve their image among others of their ilk. (2)

Problem is, today all persons not instantly complying with verbal commands of a LEO – or maybe not displaying empty hands - are assumed to be a possible deadly encounter which justifies deploying firearms. Once a lethal weapon is in play, the tendency to exercise its power is more likely. When microseconds count, death – either the perp’s or the cop – is only one of these away. Society, per se, struggles with these realities.

Most law enforcement codes of conduct/ethics uphold certain general principles in order to prevent misconduct and abuse of power. These principles (in addition to laws) are designed to guard against police deviance, or behavior inconsistent with norms and values. They include, but are not limited to: the duty to uphold the law and loyalty to the constitution, personal integrity, honesty, honor, responsibility to know the law and understand the limits of one's power and responsibility to use the least amount of force necessary to achieve the proper end. In addition, codes of ethics encompass misconduct (excessive or discriminatory use/non-use of force), corruption (forbidden acts involving misuse of office for gain), and favoritism (biased treatment of strangers as well as friends or relatives). In other words, ethics - ethical behavior - is defined as a set or system of moral values that are based on honesty and integrity. Simply put, to a cop ethics means: no lying, no cheating, no stealing - no exceptions, no excuses.

Complications arrive with the definitions of words or phrases. Some have interpreted the notion that "police officers should never act in a cowardly manner" to mean cops must sacrifice their lives for the sake of not being labeled chicken. Nothing could be further from the truth. There is a difference between sacrifice (purposely giving up one's life) and duty (complying with a moral or legal obligation related to one's occupation or position). An officer's life is of no greater or lesser value than that of any other citizen. However, because of their unique duty they have agreed, by a sworn oath, to place their life - but not to the point of surrender - at risk. In a timely manner and short of suicide, a police officer is duty bound to place his or her life in jeopardy to protect members of society.

No one is saying or expecting LEOs to sacrifice their life, but each officer has the duty to protect the public during lethal force encounters. The very nature of the police occupation is centered around perilous activity. If the work involved only taking reports, directing traffic and calling in a SWAT team when danger appears, the job could be done by social workers or clerks.

Being afraid is okay. Possibly the best definition of overcoming fear to perform one's duty is found in the plot and theme song to the early 1950s movie, High Noon. Here, on his wedding day, the Town Marshall (played by Gary Cooper) learns a man he sent to prison is returning on the noon train. The officer is torn between leaving on his honeymoon, as planned, or staying to face the perp. His bride (played by Grace Kelly) begs her groom to give it up. She leaves without him as Tex Ritter wails the theme song - the watchwords of police officers of all time:

"I do not know what fate awaits me,
I only know I must be brave,
for I must face the man who hates me,
or lie a coward, a craven coward,
or lie a coward in my grave" (3)

The bride returns just in time to blow one of the gang members away to save her man, who then out-draws the ex-con. In real life sometimes the perp wins and sometimes the spouse doesn't come back, but to a sworn police officer either one of those situations is preferable than being labeled a craven coward.

When it comes to dealing with dangerous situations, there tends to be three types of police officers: Fool, Coward and Hero. Fortunately, the hero type overwhelmingly represents the American police ranks. In a small, treacherous minority are the others. Police officers carry firearms and less-than-lethal tools for two reasons: 1) For purposes of self-protection and, 2) To protect society. Ergo, since society allows police to carry these defensive instruments to facilitate the requisites of the job, it goes without saying that sworn officers are expected to place themselves between danger and members of society when so required.

The Fool is one who temps fate by ignoring training procedures and expertise such as not wearing body armor or, for example, not notifying dispatch when stopping an armed robbery suspect. While apprehension of criminals is an end in and of itself, per se, only a fool attempts a collar at the expense of officer or members of the public’s safety. However, that is not to say that anything short of sacrificing one's life in order to protect/save the life of one you are sworn to serve and protect is not part of the job. This is also not to say that bravado is the same as bravery. There is a difference.

The Coward is one who fails to institute a serious attempt to protect society due to fear or a mindset that equates personal safety over the moral and legal obligation to protect others. Officers failing to place themselves in harm’s way because of such a mindset are guilty of non-feasance at best or mal-feasance at worst. A coward is also one who flat-out ignores suspicious activity in order to avoid chancy confrontations. One of the duties of a Field Training Officer is to weed-out cowards from the ranks. Of course, if the FTO is a coward....


The standard that one may use deadly force if one believes they are about to be the victim of a lethal force assault is well established in law. This doctrine of self-defense applies to cops as well as civilians. Of course, this belief must be based upon something other than pure fear, such as the perp has a gun or a knife. Even then, being afraid the perp might use the weapon is not sufficient. There must be some overt action or non-action such as refusing to drop the weapon, that can only be interpreted as life threatening and immediate. Unleashing a hail of hollow-points without those qualifying conditions is the mark of a coward.

There have been far too many well-documented Rodney King (4) type beatings. These modern day "blanket parties" are acts of cowardice - actions of police officers who are in reality, cowards, trying to prove their bravery/toughness by acting aggressively when there is no chance, they will be hurt. Beating the sh-t out of some murderous scumbag might be the only punishment the perp will receive, but it is not, under any standard, an act of bravery. Besides, as justifiable as it might seem, police are only impowered to apprehend criminals - not inflict retribution.

The Hero is one who realizes an officer's primary duty is to protect and serve the public. This American idol firmly believes they would rather be a dead hero than a live coward and would shun another officer who acted in a cowardly manner. However, this officer is not the fool inasmuch as he/she learns and practices safe tactics and procedures. American policing is the standard of the world, the epitome to which all others aspire. We didn't get that way by unilaterally changing the rules of engagement for egocentric rationality.

Except to those who like to make excuses, there is not a fine line between when prudence becomes cowardice or bravado. An officer advised of a man brandishing a gun in a school must, without hesitation, proceed into the building. The only goal is to find and end the risk. Anything less is cowardice, non-feasance and against all what America stands f or. On the other hand, if the officer is warned of a bank robbery in-progress, rushing in might be a foolish move by endangering innocent patrons of the bank. But, not placing oneself in a position to engage the suspects upon their exiting the bank - even before backup arrives - would certainly be deemed cowardice. Likewise, if a crazed gunman opens fire in a shopping mall, public square or school, duty demands seeking, engaging and drawing fire away from unarmed civilians.

The prudent-heroic persona should be the ultimate goal for officers. One can teach prudence to the heroic type person, but not the reverse. Heroism, like cowardice, is intrinsic and not readily learned. Self-preservation is inherent in all humans, though, unlike cowardice, it is not over-riding to the heroic type. Teaching self-preservation as a primary function goes against the grain of the heroic type.

Text book ethics stuff is all well and good, but what happens in real life when a sworn police officer witnesses a fellow officer violate the law. Does the LEO arrest the offender? Tattle-tale to the supervisor? Adhere to the "blue wall of silence?" (5) Used to be the answer was: "It depends on the infraction." If the violation wasn't something major, like a class A felony and the public hadn't witnessed it, then it was kept quiet or it was left up to a ranking officer. Problem was, just where do you draw the line? What infractions are actionable? Petty theft? Perjury? DUI? Violating a citizen's civil rights because you were spit on? Turning your back, averting your eyes, not volunteering information are all acts of cowardice.

When it comes to police deviance there are two factors that determine the level of compliance: Peer pressure and trust. Peer pressure dates to grade school and is reprehensible when practiced by trained, sworn police officers who, by their very job description, are individuals. A person who is so mentally weak - cowardly - that he is compelled to go along with the illegal activities of others of his/her group, is not qualified to wear a badge. It's one thing for a bunch of civilians to sneak off the work detail for a beer and an entirely different matter for professional - armed - officers to do the same.

Trust, in the form of reliance, is sometimes difficult to differentiate from trust in the sense of confidentiality. Confidentiality belongs to the "you ain't sh_t if you're not a cop," "good ol' boy," "blue wall of silence " schools. Not conducive to professional stature, this type of trust falsely conveys a belief that if an officer "covers-up" or keeps quiet about improper activity they can be trusted as backup when things get really scary. Professionals who stake their reputation on keeping their mouth shut when under a sworn oath not to, are not worthy of the honor of being one of "America's finest." Officers risking their back-up on a partner who supports the confidentiality mind-set may wind up dead.

Trust in the form of reliance, conversely, is of extreme importance to the functioning of any police agency. Cops, being individualists, sometimes need unquestioning reliance from their fellow officers. When an officer's back is exposed during a lethal force or other dangerous situation, this officer needs to know that his/her partner – backup - can be counted on to defend him/her to the death. Being the kind of officer who has mastered the "blue wall of silence " is not any indication of how that officer will respond under conditions of extreme stress. The only sure method of determining trust by reliance is the oldest application of trial by fire. Then again, an officer who is known for unquestioning honesty, would be the type of officer who couldn't honestly, not take risks to cover your backside.

A few years ago, when cops were underpaid, undereducated and selected more for brawn than mental capacity, a certain amount of "discretion" was expected. Not today. Patrol officers routinely earn a decent living wage, have excellent health care packages and retirement plans that customarily exceeds the general population. The substantial amount of on-going training, education and certification police officers receive has elevated their status from that of tradesmen to the level of professional. All professionals have a code of ethics. A doctor will not treat the patient of another physician unless referred and an attorney won't have direct contact with clients of other lawyers.


When one police officer violates this trust, this code of morality, all are tarnished. Adherence to or practice of any form of "blue wall of silence " is counter to the code of honesty that is part of each officer's sworn duty – an existence for being. The trust each LEO has in fellow officers must be based on the proposition that truth, not cover-up or silence, will save their career. For a police officer or anyone with sworn obligations, justice trumps injustice. Each law enforcement officer stands as society’s temporary mortal caretaker.

Training, classroom or on the street, begets predictable behavioral results. All officers must prove to their fellow officers that they are not cowards - that they can be counted on to help a fellow officer under any and all circumstances. Cops must never hesitate to jump into a melee lest they be branded a coward. Civilians, for the most part, are thankful for this machismo as this is what compels LEOs to risk their lives to protect civilians. Besides, if you were a cop would you want a partner that was afraid to jump into a fisticuff to save your backside?

We have come full circle. From the first to wear a badge, LEOs instinctively ran toward danger, including the sound of gunfire. Then, somewhere late in the 20th Century, a mindset developed in the instructor and leader levels that when faced with hazardous threats beat cop should establish a perimeter, notify a supervisor and wait for the SWAT team to handle the matter. In other words, don't take chances - protect yourself first. This was not only unethical, but was a start down a slippery slope to the final belief that “a police officer’s first duty was to go home at end of shift” even if that meant someone you were sworn to protect didn’t.

It took the Columbine tragedy (6) to begin questioning ourselves as to the function and strategy for first responders. Up to that point, but with the best of intentions, many police trainers, in an attempt to save officer's lives, had been teaching a mind-set that equates to protect yourself first - don't take chances - suicide in not in your job description. In response to the publicity of this tragedy, one police chief wrote: "Most officers have families, just like everyone else. Their main goal is to get home safely at the end of each shift, and I agree with that philosophy 100 percent" (7). Police officers are not "just like everyone else" they are the only ones with a sworn duty to protect "everyone else". "[T]o get home safely" might be a great concept for sanitation workers or lawyers, but contrary to what this top cop espoused: the "main goal" is to ensure that those the police officers are swore to protect “get home safely”. There is no mandate that any officer should be expected to sacrifice their life, but it does mean there are certain essential risks that come with the badge and take precedent over the desire "to get home safely". To put it on a more personal level: suppose you're caught in a firefight; what “main goal” would you expect of your backup?

Today, after much reflection, we are back to the original objective of law enforcement – training to confront the situation. Finally, it’s a complex world and maybe we should be restricting our training to the basics. Expecting LEOs to be social workers, medics and OD saviors might be putting too much stress on those charged with enforcing the law with lethal force.

The terroristic assaults of 9-11-2001 evidenced true acts of heroism: two naval officers "...turned against the flow of people fleeing to safety and headed toward what appeared to be the point of greatest destruction" (8). At risk to their own personal safety and though severely injured, these officers were responsible for saving lives. This is what America is all about - duty and honor in the face of death. It is also about the responsibility of the citizens to place physical ability over physical size when it comes to carrying out law enforcement functions.

Those with a sworn duty to protect must never stray from the standard to shield the public first and accept the reality that placing oneself in harm's way and sticking to the truth regardless of the consequences is part of the job. United States citizens are unique inasmuch as they intrinsically believe they are secure in their persons and places because America's Finest will not ignore their heroic duties and always act in the most ethical of ways. All LEOs, whether federal, state, local, military, airport, railroad, _____, share one commonality: The Blue Ribbon - a profession that represents the highest level of ethics of any occupation.


Chuck Klein is former police officer, licensed Private Investigator (ret.), active member of International Association of Law Enforcement Firearms Instructors (IALEFI) and author of: INSTINCT COMBAT SHOOTING, Defensive Handgunning for Police; LINES OF DEFENSE, Police Ideology and the Constitution; POLICE (definition portion of Encyclopedia of Science, Technology and Ethics, Macmillan Reference USA, an imprint of Thompson Gale ISBN 0-02-865991-0). Information about his books and e-mail contact is available on his web site:

(1) The Impossible dream (The Quest). Lyrics excerpt from the Broadway show and film: The Man of La Mancha, 1965, Joe Darion Return

(2) The Prestige of Criminal and Conventional Occupations: A Subculture Model Of Criminal Activity, American Sociological Review, Vol. 57, No. 6 (Dec., 1992), pp. 752-770 Return

(3) The movie version had slightly different wording that included the character’s name, Frank Miller. Not to offend persons of that name, the wording was changed for the recorded version, made popular by singer Frankie Lane. This revised wording is the version quoted here: Lyrics Link Return

(4) Rodney King was the victim of a brutal beating, caught on video camera, in March of 1991. The four LAPD officers charged in state court were acquitted by a jury. This led to the riots in the spring of 1992. Two of the officers involved were later convicted in Federal Court of violating King’s civil rights and were sentenced to prison. Return

(5) An unwritten rule in police circles that a fellow officer will not rat-out, tell or report illegal and/or wrong acts committed by a fellow officer. Return

(6) There were many investigations (available via a Google search) into the tragic mass shootings by two students at Columbine High School in Columbine, CO on 20 Apr 1999. The first responding LEOs did not enter the building, even while hearing the sound of gun fire from within the school. Just like everyone tuned to network television that day, I saw and heard The Jefferson County Sheriff, in no uncertain words, admit he did not order his men in because he “didn't want them to get hurt.” Return

(7) From a personal email to the author in response to my published questioning of the actions of the Jefferson County Sheriff’s comments following the Columbine tragedy. Identifying the Chief who wrote the email would serve no purpose. Return

(8) Smithsonian Magazine, September 2002 issue. Return




Published in the Summer 2020 issue of THE CHIEF OF POLICE magazine,
the Official Publication of The National Association of Chiefs of Police.


Chuck Klein © 2020 

Illustration by: R. Boss, Wyoming, OH 

Four score and 160+ years
has witnessed The Rise of the American Empire,
making clear that "...ONE NATION UNDER GOD . . .
- protected by our Last Line of Defense - “
" (2)

The history of rioting, looting, burning and protests over “police violence” has produced endless investigations followed by the same old cries to defund police agencies, ban unions, disarm the cops, make social workers of them and/or additional training. Improving law enforcement might best be found in our LE leaders’ abilities to re-think the issues and apply unique concepts.

At the risk of being labeled a racist, the elephant-in-the-room is part of the equation and needs to be addressed. In light of the 2020 nation-wide, white-supported protest/riots this concern as it relates to police can’t be ignored. The issue comes down more to perception than reality. Law enforcement agencies, over the past few decades, have extensively broadened racial and gender mix in relation to their community’s demographic makeup. However, the perception of a protest against excessive use of force by police against blacks might have been as much of a release from quarantining as, consciously or subconsciously, a remonstration against President Trump. Contrary to the Obama administration’s anti-police rhetoric, Mr. Trump, the de facto Chief Law Enforcement Officer, strongly supports police officers.

For whatever reason (Malcolm X, Hollywood stereotyping, prison population statistics, racist agitators, media sensationalism….) blacks have been perceived as violent criminals (3) by a significant number of whites – both Republicans and Democrats (and even some blacks, e.g., Jesse Jackson’s admission of relief when learning it was a white man walking behind him on a dark street in D.C) (4). If fear of police by the black community is systemic; so then is fear by whites of black violence?

The key word is “violent”. To put this in perspective; Jews have always been perceived as “money grubbers”, but monetary criminals are not violent. The facts are clear that blacks have gained huge ground as middle to upper class, law-abiding citizens, but it only takes one broadly disseminated image of a black person violently resisting arrest or reports of black gang shoot-outs to fortify the previous perceptions of blacks as violent criminals. Video depictions of a white LEO choking/beating a black person is just as much about the illegal use of force by the cops - as it is in perpetuating the perception that blacks are criminals and will resist arrest. In other words, the cop might be using illegal force, but the perception blacks are criminals is perpetuated.

Yes, there are racially motivated cops just like there are bad apples in every barrel inasmuch as no one – absolutely no body - is without a limited level of bias. It seems to be a human trait to harbor some level of racial, ethnic, age, homophobic and/or religious prejudice. Most people are reluctant to concede this dormant bias - even when staring into a mirror. Laws, propaganda and public opinion cannot eliminate prejudice - those measures only generate tolerance by suppressing intrinsic beliefs. We can pass laws that forbid discrimination, but a law that says you can’t hate is unenforceable.

The events we’ve witnessed of white police officers exercising uncalled-for use-of-force might not be about ethnic – or other – systemic aversions; rather something far more complex, of which certain issues concerning thoughts are not rectifiable by police officers, or agencies. The past is full of arrest accounts of leaders who imparted their message by not resisting law officers and taking their complaint to the people or the courts, e.g., Rosa Parks (5), Martin Luther King, Jr (6), Linda Brown…. (7).

Law Enforcement Officers [aka peace officers] are a special breed. Our secular one-size-fits-all government cannot just take any person and by subjecting him/her to training, no matter how extensive or sensitive the training is, concoct a LEO. A cop is one who first and foremost wants to be a law-enforcement officer because he/she honestly likes being in a position of being able to help people while at the same time has a strong sense of right and wrong, exhibits ethical leadership and subscribes to a healthy fear of being labeled a coward.

Individual officers are public servants whose daily goal is to strive to serve the public, but only insofar as protecting their rights and "keeping the peace." The current trend has been to reduce police officers to arms of legislative systems that use their (the government’s) enforcement powers for the furtherance of self-enhancing goals.

Though police officers might have the highest of morals and greatest of training, it is attitude that determines success. Attitude is defined as Morale + Knowledge where morale is determined by a desire to exhibit courage, discipline, confidence, an optimistic outlook and a willingness to help others. Knowledge means learned experiences (training) that one must provide for oneself and one's family while conforming to a code of moral ethics. Negative attitudes such as “they don't pay me enough to ---------” can break any and all officers as well as their departments. While on the other hand, officers with positive attitudes tend to think of their job: "you mean they pay me to do this?" Chiefs espousing this belief will create a top-down positive attitude.

If police bias against minorities is universal, as is now claimed; why does it still exist after decades of such failed attempts to train cops with community policing, accreditation, consent decrees, equality indoctrination, less-than-lethal weapons plus additional medical and social responsibilities while lowering entry standards …?

A highly trained veteran law enforcement officer who jeopardizes his/her career and freedom by using excessive force on a person who has capitulated is either a coward … or the officer is a victim of what I’ll call: Accumulative Stress Disorder (ASD). This condition, akin to PTSD (8), appears as a result of years of stress that creates an “us-versus-them” mindset - a loss of reality of how non-cops live and behave. War-zone military personnel, deployed only for months, must be in a kill-or-be-killed state of mind – 24/7. LEOs are active-duty for years, decades, but must transition – everyday - from a criminal catcher to a father to an OD saver to a spouse to warding off attacks (verbal, physical, lethal) to…. (See below UPDATE to this webpage) 

“Cops witness the worst things in America. They answer the 911 call at 3:20 a.m. and see things so horrible they can’t tell anyone because if it gets around there will be imitators. They see the violent parents and kids watching television, checked out at age 8. They see what meth does. They’re often poorly trained and have to get everything right, and they assume between the pols and public opinion no one really has their back except the unions that too often keep[s] cities from weeding out the bad cops so that good cops can thrive.” (9) And after that they are expected to turn-off, become the good neighbor next door, attend a PTA meeting, be in the mood to procreate – and do it all over again the next day, everyday.... 

As society becomes more sophisticated, additional responsibilities are being expected of the beat officer. Today, the street cop must expertly handle: marital disputes, drug intervention, first aid, crowd/riot control, the mentally disturbed, various weapons, Narcan, radio, restraint devices, traffic violations criminal investigations, arrests all the while cognizant of lurking snipers…. By ignoring the ASD factor, society might be demanding too much of these special, but human, protectors.

The highly publicized death of a black man by a white LEO in Minneapolis, 25 May 2020, brings up an unanswered question: is it not possible that MPD officer, Derek Chauvin, was unable to recognize the reality of extensive pressure to the neck of George Floyd due to Chauvin being a victim of ASD and had nothing to do with racial bias?

All police officers receive a state certified training, yet, even on a per capita basis, the incidents of questionable force in larger metropolises far, far exceed those violent encounters reported in small towns and counties. Ergo, it must not be the training, but other factors. Evidence can be found in the THE BADGEsuicide rate of LEOs that continues on an increasing level (10). Added to those statistics are the high level of divorce. Though statistics are conflicting, “… the divorce rate for officers is 60-70 percent. A staggering number when you really consider it. Approximately one-quarter of the officers who are married will still be married to that same spouse at the end of their careers.” (11).

However, there is one other aspect that has been ignored by the media and police, per se: The Criminal Disparity Factor. In the big cities many elements make-up the population including, but not limited to, education levels, tension due to close-quarter living conditions, poverty, belief that police are ethnically bias/unfair, age…. Large crowded metropolitan areas that consist of ethnic enclaves are ripe for producing groups of spontaneous protestors/rioters when an incident, justifiable or not, ignites outpourings of resentment against authority by those who oxymoronically believe government is the cause and solution to all problems.

In small towns and counties - not adjacent to big cities – the frequency of use-of-force incidents are significantly lower because the above conditions are not in play. Other than personal observation and having policed and lived decades in both low and high density communities, this writer is not aware of any relevant and current studies comparing the level of police use-of-force by “big-city kitties” versus “local-yokels/county-mounties/smokies,” but it does appear that if for no other reason than a lack of congregated numbers, citizens tend to be more respectful of law officers in the open country.

To best address current and future law enforcement issues, it is suggested the National Association of Chiefs of Police, in conjunction with the FOP, FOPA, National Sheriffs’ Association and other like organizations ban together as the Police And Citizen Unification Panel (PACUP) to:

1) Address Accumulated Stress Disorder
First the PACUP should create an index for ASD, i.e., a rating system to determine the level of stress an officer has faced. Conditions should include: age of the LEO, years of service, crime rate where served, shift factor (such as day shift on week days equate to less stress than mid-shift on weekends), population of jurisdiction, education/training level and population density of beat. Second, a preventative ASD conditioning should be required, such as: For every ___ months of active duty, patrol officers shall rotate to observe and assist at a social service agency for ___ days. This out-of-uniform exposure is to re-acclimate the officers to civilian society – to experience how the “them” live from the “them” side. Upon completion of each social service tenure, the officer should be required to submit to his/her superior a written report of the experience. Stress is part of the territory of LE and cannot be eliminated. But by taking periodic “civilian” breaks, the accumulation of stress is disrupted.

2) Return Policing to Its Basic Functions
As a unified voice, the PACUP would be most influential in resisting politically mandated responsibilities including, but not limited to: enforcement of non-criminal acts. Together they can return policing to its foundations – undertakings and procedures directly related to the basics of enforcing the laws.

3) Establish A Reality Check
The PACUP might endeavor to have produced a “Scared Straight” video/YouTube that depicts a cop (and accomplices) exceeding use-of-force authority; then being arrested, surrendering the badge and finally exhibited behind bars. Required periodic viewing will surely send the message to recruits - and current less-than-brave officers - that cowardly behavior resulting in death or great bodily harm to protectees will yield years of playing drop-the-soap with those who’ve been victimized by cowardly cops or LEOs suffering from ASD.

4) Training
The latest feels-good approach to “police violence” is de-escalation training. Perhaps we’ve been targeting the wrong people. It might be more beneficial, in the long run, to go to the root of the problem: Civilian Training.

The PACUP, through legislative pressure and media influence would be in the most advantageous position to write and design a course in the realities of American jurisprudence and enforcement that would be taught in our elementary and secondary schools. Such a course would also be most beneficial by utilizing this opportunity to project that police do not have the perception that certain classes of citizens are criminals or should be treated any differently. An example of educating youth is found in the success of the National Rifle Association’s Eddie Eagle program. (12)

For these reasons it is necessary that the head of any police training division be a committee of two: one a civilian the other an experienced LEO. The civilian must be a real civilian not a nouveau civilian as one large city did. This mid-west metropolis, at the urging of its city council, established a civilian head of the police academy. They then filled that position with a recently retired career police officer. The officer, to his credit, was an excellent officer and had served the city well for over 25 years. But he was a civilian only in the narrowest of terms. He had been a police officer since reaching age 21 and had only been retired a matter of days before accepting the new position. His experience as a civilian amounted to less than one year!

The Coronavirus pandemic coupled with anti-police sentiment is creating a significant problem for police leaders in hiring recruits. Political pressure that focuses more on the qualifications of social interaction rather than enforcement of laws could be detrimental to protecting citizens. The PACUP might be the only voice in keeping the focus on traditional LE functions.

5) Independent Review Boards
Inasmuch as this has been tried over and over again it is necessary to allow community interaction. The criteria should be:

a) A limit of one review panel so as not to subject involved officers to endless, repetitive, investigations and testimony. Extensive and redundant investigations demoralize the rank & file which is not conducive to community relations. This special panel is not to be in place of, or in conjunction with, any city, county, state or federal grand jury investigation.

b) Full subpoena powers – anything less is counter-productive and a waste of time.

c) Investigatory powers only for major incidents involving police conduct/misconduct and is not to be in place of, or in conjunction with, a department’s internal affairs division.

d) Report directly to and only to the highest elected authority of the community.

e) Members must be comprised of a mix that is representative of the community in respect to race, national origin, age, gender, religion, financial status and education.

f) Members of any such Independent Review Board must be required to spend a limited amount of time observing police at work, i.e., riding in patrol cars, attending academy classes and hold a minimum level of formal education.

6) Maturity
Raising the age limit to 25-years upon appointment would allow youthful police applicants a chance to demonstrate if they can be responsible citizens. A person who has held a full-time job where they have to meet a starting time every day for at least a few years is a good demonstration of reliability. Time as a civilian, on one’s own, is a great test of whether one will succumb to peer or other pressures to violate laws (especially laws involving moral turpitude). Time also yields a person’s willingness to be involved in some form of community/public service. By age twenty-five life patterns, inasmuch as ethics and morals are concerned, are fairly well established. By this age most recruits will have held a job, faced the honesty and ethics question regarding illegal activities and/or associating with those who do. (13)

7) Civilians
Police agencies, contrary to certain elitist's positions, are not islands unto themselves. Though the military might be separated and detached and, under certain conditions, autonomous, police departments are not. Police officers and police agencies are made up of civilians working for civilians and addressing civilian problems. It is only under the extreme conditions of widespread civil unrest that police may completely distance themselves from the civilian accountability - and then only temporarily.

Too often police isolate themselves from the community by associating only with other police officers. Working different shifts and having the same interests makes it easy to stay with your own kind. But the rewards will be greater if a balanced social circle is cultivated. This doesn't mean LEOs have to forsake their partner or even any police functions. Just by being part of the civilian scene as a member of one of the many service clubs, (Kiwanis, Lyons, etc.) will not only be personally rewarding, but will show the community that they are one of them and really care.

As a taxpayer each officer has the obligation to support what is best for the community. Of course, in reality exercising First Amendment rights might be disadvantageous to one’s career. Thus, the importance of being a member of a civilian organization allows an LEO to unofficially encourage fellow civilian members of to press their opinions.

We don’t live in a utopia of peace and tranquility where the “book” covers all contingencies. Police work is eight hours of improvise, seat-of-your-pants responsibilities and common sense; things that can’t be put in the book - a book in and of itself.

If there is one lesson to learn that will serve you for your entire life, it’s to know when to walk away, to let it go, that every infraction/interaction as a LEO or spouse, parent, neighbor… doesn’t have to end in your controlling the results. Policing is just as much about protecting society from wrong-doers as it is about protecting wrong-doers from over-zealous policing. The wisdom of this message has served me well: There had been recent news reports of a fake cop pulling people over to shake them down for money or, in the case of females, rape them. It’s 3am, I’m in full uniform and driving the department’s minimally marked cruiser. I clocked a car at 20+ over the limit and activated the siren and single dash-mounted flashing light. The driver ignored it, but slowed down whereas I pulled next to the car, lowered my window, turned on the interior light while motioning for the driver to pull over. The driver, I could now see, was an attractive young woman. She looked at me, shook her head and sped away. I had three options: run her off the road, radio for a road block or let her go. I chose option three.

If (when) events spiral out-of-hand - insurrection, riots, foreign invasion, martial law - the major issue is, who are you really obligated to serve: The public (per se)? Individual citizens? The agency that signs your paycheck? Your state Constitution? The Constitution of the United States? Yourself and your family? A military officer? None of the above? All of the above – in what order? To a non-LEO the response might be: “The answer, my friend, is blowin’ in the wind.” (14) Who among us doesn’t have the belief that to the American police officer, when things go sideways history will record: “This was their finest hour.” (15)

UPDATE TO THIS WEBPAGE: Heretofore, the only diagnosis of police who apparently and wrongly impose violence upon civilians were simply labeled "bad cop". Some have likened this out-of-character behavior as an extenuation of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) called “Chronic Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder,” a condition military personnel continue to experience after combat. I posited there is a difference between “chronic post-traumatic stress disorder” and ASD inasmuch as the absence (usually) of Trauma in the daily lives of a law enforcement officer. Soldiers, once they return home from a combat zone - unlike police officers - don't have to report for duty the next day which is stressful in and of itself. This is not to take anything away from military victims of PTSD, only to properly identify the different criteria associated with the stress of LEOs.

Accumulated Stress Disorder in cops is also not the same as daily (ordinary) stress experienced by bankers, lawyers and/or business leaders who don’t have to worry -as police officer do - about being physically attacked when “taking a break” or when “off duty”. Being in an adversarial position during citizen encounters such as approaching a stopped vehicle, knocking on the door of a domestic detail, or just being approached by someone while walking a beat; these small stressful events accumulate anxiety/tension that might additionally be amplified by home life. Tendered plan for to treating ASD, quite different from PTSD treatments, is outlined in the aforementioned Part I.

This concept caught the attention of Dr. Kenneth J. Manges who wrote in personal correspondence: "Your analysis is correct, and prolonged exposure leads to increased irritability, and in layman’s terms, a 'shorter fuse.' The plan you outlined has merit."

 Author: Chuck Klein is former police officer, licensed Private Investigator (ret.), active member of International Association of Law Enforcement Firearms Instructors (IALEFI) and author of: INSTINCT COMBAT SHOOTING, Defensive Handgunning for Police; LINES OF DEFENSE, Police Ideology and the Constitution; POLICE (definition portion of Encyclopedia of Science, Technology and Ethics, Macmillan Reference USA, an imprint of Thompson Gale ISBN 0-02-865991-0). Information about his books and e-mail contact is available on his web site:

(1) Excerpt from The American Pledge of Allegiance. Return

(2) Excerpt from Abraham Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address. Return

(3) How To Show That Black Lives Really Matter, Holman W. Jenkins, Jr., WSJ, July 11-12, 2020. Also:; Return

(4) “There is nothing more painful to me … than to walk down the street and hear footsteps and start thinking about robbery, then look around and see somebody white and feel relieved.” Jesse Jackson, 3/10/96. As reported by Steven Goddard, World Press.   Return

(5) Civil rights pioneer, Rosa Parks: Return

(6) Civil rights leader, Martin Luther King: Return

(7) Brown vs Board of Education, 1954 SOTUS Return

(8) Post Traumatic Stress Disorder has been utilized in court pleadings; it is not an excuse, but has been used successfully in mitigation. Mitigation is not a solution. Return

(9) Peggy Noonan, “Of Some Things, Americans Can Agree,” The Wall Street Journal, 6/7 June 2020. Return

(10) Suicides of police officers reported in 2019: Return

(11) Quoting: Law Enforcement Officer, 2013. Return

(12) Return

(13) Brain Maturity Extends Well Beyond Teen Years. NPR, 10-10-2011, maturity%20until%20the%20age%2025 Return

(14) Lyrics of the 1960s Bob Dylan song, Blowin’ in the Wind Return

(15) From British Prime Minister, Winston Churchill speech, 1940: “Let us therefore brace ourselves to our duties, and so bear ourselves that, if the British Empire and its Commonwealth last for a thousand years, men will still say, This was their finest hour.” Return




Chuck Klein, ©  2020

Published in the Fall 2020 issue of THE CHIEF OF POLICE magazine,
the Official Publication of The National Association of Chiefs of Police.


 Illustration by A. Levine, Cincinnati

“Hope for the best, plan for the worst.” (1)

Of course, we all hope for the best. Planning for the worst has always been part of the LE job description. Heretofore, the worst being riots, insurrection, rampant crime and other common police issues including budget cuts. That was then … now, a new play-book could be more about enormous economical reductions not just shuffling funds from one agency to another. When taxable income plunges by huge amounts for extended periods of time, something has to give.

From a monetary standpoint, the Covid-19 pandemic is (or will be) a worst-case scenario due to the unprecedented drop in the nation’s money supply caused by massive unemployment. During catastrophic events, out of work citizens - consumers - not only don’t contribute to the economy via income tax, but spend less which yields lower sales tax collections and a drop in corporate dividends. Though most governments have “rainy-day” funds to cover such short-term emergencies, a significantly long crisis or one crisis followed by another, followed….

A silver lining - if such a term could be applied to the Coronavirus pandemic and the George Floyd (2) protests/riots - would be the opportunity for a re-look at contingency planning for the future of what may well happen if things go from sideways to upside-down. In other words, exigent planning now to cover future devastating conditions.

Though a national police force or martial law have been touted to handle a monetary induced crime crunch, it is somebody else’s plan – not an American style of LE strategy. We have enough “national” LEOs in the form of FBI, ATF, DHS and others who can never replace the local connectivity of home-boy cops. Invoking martial law would only be a temporary and regional fix inasmuch as there aren’t enough troops to police every town, city and county. Besides, the Posse Comitatus Act (3) restricts the government in the use of federal military personnel to enforce domestic policies within the United States. National Guard troops are not under this restriction and their numbers are not sufficient to police large areas or for long periods of time. Martial law is only for when all else fails – and it means the military is in charge above all political leaders and civilian LE. If martial law is ordered to your jurisdiction the OIC, in response to a police chief’s question, “where do you want us, sir,” will be: “We don’t want you, go home.” Having solid civilian LE contingency plans in place are best to stave off such drastic measures.

Police leaders might be in for a vis-à-vis confrontation with their political bosses over significant loss of agency funding and a redefining of what, who and how traditional police officers and their agencies operate. Though the George Floyd death ramped up calls for de-funding police agencies, it was more about re-distributing funds from a department of police to other departments such as health, homelessness, drug treatment and other matters of community interest. What was being proposed, is instead of sending a LEO to answer a disturbance report, community leaders or mental health specialist should be dispatched. An entirely new bureaucracy from which money for these additional responders (and their training) would come from the police budget. Perhaps an unarmed social worker can professionally handle a domestic dispute, but if violence or firearms are involved serious injury or death becomes a greater risk not only to the responding social worker, but to the subjects of the call and others (4).

Politicians need the legal ability to reward their ardent followers – it’s a reality that isn’t going to go away. Traditionally, that method has usually been by hiring their supporters to fill law enforcement and courthouse positions. These high-paying political appointments serve the political parties quite well – during peaceful times. However, when conflicts arise between politics and crime the appointments become tenuous and politics usually trumps law & order which tends to lead to chaos. Modern civil service plus merit selection and good government reforms, have muted the practice of political patronage in many cities and states, except for the highest ranking - decision making - heads of departments. It’s one thing to gift a job to a lower echelon cop who still has to answer to the Chief, but to have the top cop beholden to a politician is a different matter. (5)

In a conflict-ridden America the enforcement or non-enforcement of laws has become a means of embarrassing political opponents – victims (the law-abiding public) be damned. In 2020, we witnessed political rigging of police agencies in Portland, Minneapolis and other cities after the George Floyd death. Their mayors and city councils not only restrained police activity, but demanded President Trump not send federal agents to protect federal property (6) or assist local police departments in riot control. Allowing “protesters” and even rioters free-run of a community might be great for vote-getting, but not everyone is part of this equation … the other inhabitants of these cities were excluded protection. These fellow tax paying citizens’ rights to “Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness” (7) were infringed.

When a city mayor orders his officers not to intervene to prevent “protesters” from committing crimes or instructs a department to ignore or crack-down on certain crimes for political motives, we have lost America.

During the great depression of the 1930s America was isolated and in control of its own destiny. Though bread lines looped around corners in every city, people retained faith, trust and generally pulled together. Today, world events coupled with over 330 million of us, rallied by political discord, along with a real fear of deadly viruses and worst-case scenarios takes on a new definition. The 21st Century divisiveness is indicative of possible unconscionable levels of crime due to massive loss of law enforcement funding.

In preparation for the most devastating of conditions, police leaders might consider a new plan A and also a plan B, C….

The Federal Government is the only entity that has the right and power to issue money – pay the bills and run a debt. Unemployed workers during a financial crisis create a chain reaction - a lack of sales taxes, renters unable to pay rent followed by landlords withholding real estate taxes…. Cities, counties and states that can’t meet their emergency services payroll, due to this loss of revenue, will need federal funding.

Congress has the power to issue vast amounts of funds to local and state coffers – by increasing the national debt. Where does this money come from? Who pays and who owes? Turns out, no one. For all intents and purposes - it’s the proverbial free-lunch. When the federal government spends/gives-away more money than what it takes in, it merely prints additional currency and/or issues electronic credits - it’s akin to running-a-tab or putting it on a credit card that never has to be paid. An increased national debt means our dollar is worth less (lower international buying power and higher inflation). However, during a world-wide crisis, if all the other nations are in the same boat, it washes – makes no difference - as other countries’ debts are also higher and will need to, likewise, “print more money”. Of course, at some point inflation becomes rampant, but by then it is hoped the crisis prompting the “free money” will have passed and things will return to normal. The rub is, an influx of credit to mayors and governors without a qualifying string attached, might result in these funds being dispersed for programs, departments or pet projects rather than for essential services.

When the nation experiences a catastrophic financial depression and local tax revenue has dried up to the condition where there are no funds to pay for essential services, momentous “cuts” will surely come. Essential is the key word; a term that could have far different meaning to politicians who will be deciding what and how much to cut.

Surely no one will disagree that it is indispensable to have clean water, sewage, trash disposal, fire and police protection. But when money gets tight, how clean, treated, disposed-of and how much fire and police protection will local elected officials deem essential while at the same time other publicly funded programs will be vying for the equivalent shrinking income? Food supplies, a function of private industry, could be ominously impacted by a distribution/transportation disruption due to a pandemic or the fear of any catastrophic event including the lack of police protection. Financial depression is not the only worst case that can result in loss of police protection. Politicians grand-standing by issuing stand-down orders, commands to enforce or not enforce select statutes creates chaos and breakdown or loss of essential services.

To best address current and future law enforcement issues, it is suggested the National Association of Chiefs of Police, in conjunction with the FOP, FOPA, National Sheriffs’ Association and other like organizations ban together as the Police And Citizen Unification Panel (PACUP). There is nothing in the Constitution that precludes police leaders uniting with civilian supporters to voice their political beliefs about what’s best for America. PACUP would be in a position to influence significant changes to protect the public.

Police officers and their agencies, local, state, federal are all part of the Executive Branch; they are under the control of a mayor, governor or the President as the case may be and thus orders to stand-down or go-get-‘em is at the whim of these elected leaders while their department’s funding is controlled by their respective legislative branches.

PACUP might best influence the Congress to legislate: Upon the declaration of a monetary crisis – a declared national financial depression - all funding for local and state police agencies would come directly from the Federal Government and earmarked specifically for law enforcement officers – The Prioritized Funding Act.

Passage of a federal law that, in the event of a financial national emergency all local, state and federal income shall be prioritized to cover defined essential services. Therefore, if a certain level (yet to be determined) of the GDP, income tax and/or stock market is breached - funding for federal and non-federal LEOs will be prioritized over all non-essential monetary dispersions.

This new mandate is not to lessen funding for other non-police agencies, programs or entities, just that the priority of distribution of all public monies favors law enforcement. During any crisis, politics can sometimes cause delays that result in damage to others, including loss of life. This period of time when bad things are happening is not the time for police to be missing their paychecks while politicians dither over the definition of essential.

We are not a nation of laws - we are a nation of constitutions. Laws, statutes, court decrees, political edicts are subservient to constitutions. When a LEO takes an oath under his or her state’s constitution to uphold state, federal and political subdivision’s laws (8); any interference or attempt to restrict that sworn duty would be illegal, unethical and if ordered to ignore a sworn duty by an elected official, that official is guilty of dangerously evil misfeasance at best or, graver, malfeasance.

Most states not only require LEOs to take an oath to uphold local, state and federal laws, but this is a double edge knife that cuts both ways, i.e., governors and mayors, the LEOs bosses, also must raise their right hand. A typical oath for Mayor is found in the statutes of Portland, Oregon:

“I, (name), do solemnly (affirm or swear) that I will support the Constitutions of the United States and of the State of Oregon and the Charter of the City of Portland and its laws; and I will faithfully, honestly and ethically perform my duties as (office).”

Governors and mayors, as the enforcement branch of our three-tiered American system of government, are sworn to enforce the laws – especially the laws that protect all citizens’ rights to property and safety – not just the ideals of their backers. Elected officials forsaking this sworn obligation can be recalled or voted out of office. But time-consuming voter evocation is of little comfort to victims of an executive branch’s failure to exercise their enforcement powers to control those bent on wanton destruction of life and property.

To rectify this imbalance in power, when the Prioritized Funding Act has been invoked:

1) City, village, township divisions shall come under the direct control of the Governor with advice – not necessarily consent - from local elected officials. In other words, only the governor can issue orders to local police officers, thus reducing the possibilities of destructive lawlessness that politically motivated or out-of-control local potentates ignore or refuse to address.

“Situations in which political intervention is questionable include those involving promotions and assignments, planned police response in complex emergency situations, police tactics in dealing with demonstrations and riots, and attempts to turn control of the police over to community groups” (9).

2) State police shall come under the direct control of a coalition of mayors and township trustees, with the advice – not necessarily consent – of the Governor. Here, as a balance, local elected officials will have an equilibrium against an out-of-control governor. In other words, if a governor – who is also an elected official – ignores or refuses to address local lawlessness, the coalition of mayors/township trustees have the right and power to call in the state police.

3) Elected LEOs (Sheriff’s) remain the same inasmuch as they are responsible only to the voters who control their funding mostly by tax levies. This is the third leg of a stability of policing that removes much of the political pressures placed on police Chiefs who are not directly responsible to the voters.

In the beginning, only white male police officers were selected - more on brawn than brain. They were peace-keepers where a thump on the head with a nightstick was how disorderly issues were resolved. Then came: written tests, personal interviews, physical agility/strength, background investigation, polygraph, criminal history, psychologist exam…. Over time, standards have changed from hiring only brute-force men to accepting women, persons of different creeds, colors and those with lessor strength, to allowing some history of drug use or other questionable behavior and to requiring a higher/lower level of formal education. Good or bad, right or wrong, this is where we are, today. Forging future generations is the key to American policing.

LEOs might currently be subjected to excessive training inasmuch as they are required to handle in the blink of the eye more and more and greater and greater complex issues. Training for street officers, where all rookies should begin, must be a return to basics – know and enforce the laws and keep the peace. Probably the best advise that could be given comes from the 1970s hit song, The Gambler:

“You've got to know when to hold 'em
Know when to fold 'em
Know when to walk away…
If you're gonna play the game, boy
You gotta learn to play it right” (10)

Yes, this is about poker, but adhering to the rules and dealing with people who don’t want to be dealt with is a gamble and over or under playing your hand is sometimes the difference between keeping the peace and disturbing the peace.

The pool of persons interested in a LE career has become void of many desirable candidates due, in part, to negative media coverage of the police profession, per se. This brings up the obvious questions: Do we lower the standards to fill the academy classes? Appease one segment of society while shunning another by reducing quality applicants a solution?

The answers could be in establishing/defining a set of standards and accepting all police academy applicants that apply knowing a certain number will washout before completion of training – similar to what the army does during draft callups. Washouts can be an asset inasmuch as if properly handled during their unsuccessful, albeit short stint in the academy, they will leave with a positive attitude that will carry over into their civilian life, thus generating a new generation of pro-police citizens. No one is happy about being rejected, but a positive spin and instilling the feeling of being part of the greater good through education and professional guidance can generate decent law-abiding citizens who will become productive workers for other segments of society. In the long run, these “rejects” and their family and friends will not be the ones with a CH.

The recruits that remain in training should be subjected to professionally engineered mental indoctrination (some might call it brain-washing). The goal is to end up with decent, law-abiding, educated, physically-fit officers who know the difference between malum in se and malum prohibitum while having this thought as they begin work each day: You mean they pay me to do this?

We can’t predict the next crisis, much less it’s type, severity or time, but surely there will be another. The goal of law enforcement leaders is to be prepared, sans political pressure, with ready-to-go strategies in our ever-changing world.

Plans that secure funding under dire conditions, readjusts control and dispersion of officers and addresses the future of law enforcement training is the crux to maintaining America’s security and safety of its citizens.

Police, per se, are not autonomous. They are under the direction of their respective executive branch … that branch’s control is subject to realignment under severe conditions such as when The Prioritized Funding Act is activated. When all else is on the brink of termination, our last line of defense will be needed to not only preserve the peace, but to protect and ensure the functioning of the other essential services, its people, transportation and facilities. Under such extraordinary conditions, LE leaders must be shielded from political intervention as much as law allows. During a crisis it is unfathomable and incomprehensible to expect a police leader to be required to await direction or permission from a political entity – to “fiddle” while watching his/her Rome burn.

This article is written for and targeted to a limited number of a small minority of American citizens. This minute group, the Chiefs of Police, are the heads, the pole position, the point and the leaders of our last line of defense. It is their expertise and steadfastness that has proven time and again to be capable of leading during periods of crisis. Americans know, deep down, their security and safety has been and always will be provided by these leaders no matter what – no exceptions, no excuses.

About the Author: Chuck Klein is former police officer, licensed Private Investigator (ret.), active member of International Association of Law Enforcement Firearms Instructors (IALEFI) and author of: INSTINCT COMBAT SHOOTING, Defensive Handgunning for Police; LINES OF DEFENSE, Police Ideology and the Constitution; POLICE (definition portion of Encyclopedia of Science, Technology and Ethics, Macmillan Reference USA, an imprint of Thompson Gale ISBN 0-02-865991-0). Information about his books and e-mail contact is available on his web site:

(1) Lee Child, various Jack Reacher novels. Return

(2) A veteran Minneapolis LEO held his knee on a combative arrestee for an extended time causing the arrestee’s death. The officer, might have been a victim of Accumulated Stress Disorder, a condition addressed in a previous article of this publication.  Return

(3) 18 U.S.C. § 1385 and as updated in 1956, 1959 and 1994.


(4) ABC News report, 9 Jun 2020 Return

(5) Practical Politics and the Criminal Process Return

(6) Article IV, Sect 4 of the U.S. Constitution: “The United States shall … protect each of them [states] … and on application of the[ir] legislature … against domestic violence.” Thus, if any state requests help to quell riots, mob attacks, insurrection, etc. within its borders, federal troops will be sent. It doesn’t say the Federal Government is forbidden from acting on its own to protect property against domestic violence. The clause has also been used, so to speak, in reverse. In 1894, during a country-wide railroad strike, President Grover Cleveland, against the express wishes of the governor of Illinois, sent in federal troops to protect post offices and keep the post roads open (Article I, Section 8 gave the power of establishing and maintaining post offices and post roads). Return

(7) Declaration of Independence. Return

(8) I do solemnly swear or affirm that I will support the Constitution and Laws of the United States of America, the Constitution and Laws of the State of Ohio, and Laws and Ordinances of the political subdivision to which I am appointed and to the best of my ability will discharge the duties of this office. Ohio Code (Most states have similar wording to Ohio’s oath). Return

(9) Should politics play a role police administration? 1978, by Donald O. Schultz

(10) Excerpted lyrics from the song by Kenny Rogers, The Gambler




Chuck Klein, ©  2021

Illustration by A. Levine, Cincinnati

Published in the Winter 2020/2021 issue of THE CHIEF OF POLICE magazine,
the Official Publication of The National Association of Chiefs of Police.

For the want of political support, a police officer was lost.
For the want of a police officer, morale was lost.
For the want of morale, honor was lost.
For the want of honor, justice was lost.

For the want of justice, freedom was lost.
For the want of freedom, the nation was lost.
For the want of the nation, faith was lost.
For the want of faith, humanity was lost.

In part I of this series PROBLEMS_AND_SOLUTIONS, I coined the term, (2) Accumulated Stress Disorder (ASD) to address the issue poignantly brought to the world's attention in the (3) George Floyd incident. Heretofore, the only diagnosis of police who apparently and wrongly impose violence upon civilians were simply labeled "bad cop". Some have likened this out-of-character behavior as an extenuation of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) called “Chronic Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder,” a condition military personnel continue to experience after combat. I posited there is a difference between “chronic post-traumatic stress disorder” and ASD inasmuch as the absence (usually) of Trauma in the daily lives of a law enforcement officer. Soldiers, once they return home from a combat zone - unlike police officers - don't have to report for duty the next day which is stressful in and of itself. This is not to take anything away from military victims of PTSD, only to properly identify the different criteria associated with the stress of LEOs. ASD was also the subject of a feature article in American Police Beat Magazine (July 2022). 

Accumulated Stress Disorder in cops is also not the same as daily (ordinary) stress experienced by bankers, lawyers and/or business leaders who don’t have to worry -as police officer do - about being physically attacked when “taking a break” or when “off duty”. Being in an adversarial position during citizen encounters such as approaching a stopped vehicle, knocking on the door of a domestic detail, or just being approached by someone while walking a beat; these small stressful events accumulate anxiety/tension that might additionally be amplified by home life. Tendered plan for to treating ASD, quite different from PTSD treatments, is outlined in the aforementioned Part I.

This concept caught the attention of Dr. Kenneth J. Manges (4) who wrote in personal correspondence: "Your analysis is correct, and prolonged exposure leads to increased irritability, and in layman’s terms, a 'shorter fuse.' The plan you outlined has merit." 

Preface (to Part III)
There are 900K +/- law enforcement officers in America. Combined they make over 36,000 arrests per year (5) of which a tiny few are, at best, questionable. However, it has been these miniscule and highly disseminated acts that generated a misplaced animosity toward the LEOs and those who train and direct them. The result of this over-reaction has been appeasement – a movement by non-LEOs to scale-back (reallocate/reduce) funding, quantity of enforcers, statute enforcement and/or protection of property and persons. In other words, some people of power want to muck up the most effective, principled and admirable policing system the world has ever known.

“If the history of the 1930s teaches us anything,
it is that appeasement … would be an open invitation to new acts of aggression….”

Regardless – it is immaterial – that’s the system we live in. On the other hand, it doesn’t mean we can’t create new ideas and concepts that will generate changes to the rules, laws, the media, legislatures and the courts that are favorable to those charged with the enforcement of the law.

With the unprecedented number and types of challenges facing law enforcement, it might be said that the continuation and survival of the world’s most honored civilian police agencies – the American police departments - could come down to one word: Ideas. The concepts and notions presented in this treatise are not necessarily suggesting incorporation, rather to stimulate the reader to expand these philosophies to a pragmatic level.

The creative process is the distinctive progression of change, development and evolution unique to human life. The basic formula is simple to grasp and most creative type persons already, unwittingly, utilize most of the practices. Most everyone is somewhat creative, but many idea producers do not understand the process or have never given much thought to their successes causing them to ofttimes have difficulty consistently coming up with new ideas on demand. There has never been a reliable test to determine one's creativeness any more than an examination can measure intuition.

Problems arise, not from entertaining new concepts,
but from failing to shed old ones.

Creating ideas is tantamount to solving problems, but it is only the second phase. The first step is recognizing the problem. The final stage, which is not part of the creative process, is putting the solution into action. The greatest ideas are for naught if they cannot be comprehensively disseminated (accepted) by the recipient, thus ending in resistance: “What we have here is a failure to communicate” (7). Communication is always problematic due to inborn restraint and the inability to define and present a new proposal in an understandable presentation - possibly requiring additional idea production of to how win over the target listeners.

Idea: n A mental image, concept, or notion not previously envisioned. Creativity: n (1875) 1: the quality of being creative 2: the ability to create. Also: The ability to make or otherwise bring into existence something new, whether a new solution to a problem, a novel method or device, or a fresh artistic object or form (8). Additionally, ideas are defined as a mental image, concept, or notion not previously envisioned. This would include re-structuring/re-formatting/changing an old version to the new idea.

Nothing is more frustrating to a police leader under the strain of escalating crime, than fending off political attacks or any other type of attack while facing a deadline for solving issues. For those charged with bottom line responsibility (or those aspiring to be so charged) having to produce new concepts and unique tactics can be Twinkie-consuming pressure. Knowing how to enhance and stimulate idea production is indispensable to success and can go a long way in reducing stress.

Much has been written about people who are creative - those who produce ideas - but little about how they actually arrive at new concepts, theories or a different way of viewing old notions. The term, creativity, is easily defined, however, a technique for achieving this highly acclaimed attribute is not readily found. If coming up with ideas is the goal; how does one create ideas? Idea production, like any other manufacturing process, is subject to and dependent upon an identifiable pattern. It makes little difference whether the creator is writing a book, seeking a solution to an assembly line problem or looking to save lives and prevent/solve crimes; the process of inspiration fabrication is the same.

The formula for creativity production is comprised of six distinct and separate steps, the Latent Psyche Concept. Latent, because it deals with the ideas and thoughts hidden away in the back of the mind. Psyche, for the involvement of the entire mind including the memory section, the intellect and the subconscious. Concept, because this word best defines the goal of seeking an idea, abstract notion or new outlook.

1) Identification
Identifying the problem (raising questions) and establishing goals. What do I wish to accomplish? Is it morale, ethics, over-bearing supervisors, political pressure, crime in general, a specific violation of statutes or…?

When identifying the predicament, it is important not to try to pursue detailed solutions to complex problems, i.e., if the problem is complex, seek ideas to one portion of the obstacle at a time. It is not necessary to work each section all the way through the Latent Psyche Concept before beginning the next section. The subconscious can juggle many tasks at once. What is important is to define the goals by identifying each problem. A visual list - something that can be periodically reviewed - helps keep the goals in focus and acts as a stimulant for the mind.

2) Information
The collecting of raw materials. Whether it is new research or data found in your own storehouse of general wisdom and knowledge, Information is essential. Care must be taken not to clutter the mind with useless data. Keeping a calendar and day sheet of things to do will free the mind for creativity.

Part of research includes learning what the other side is planning and requires ideas to best prepare responses. Military leaders have often used this tactic in predicting an enemy’s means and motives. A great example was the out-loud musings attributed to General George Patton as he watched his adversary fall into a strategic trap: “Rommel, you magnificent bastard, I read your book” (10)

3) Melding
Digesting, sorting and collating - working over - Information in the mind. In other words, actively trying to come up with an idea. The solution might be readily available and on the forefront of conscious thoughts. Brainstorming or group think-tank sessions are forms of Melding.

Oft-times, during this stage, the realization that not enough Information is available and a return to that phase is necessary. Trying to cross the river before the bridge is in place is convoluted and non-productive.

4) Latent Psyche
This is the crux of the concept. Mountains of Information can be accumulated and Melded with any number of problems, but without this stage new ideas are hard to come-by. During this interval the subconscious portion of the mind forces Identification to consort, fraternize and - Meld - with Information. Uncomplicated by conscious thoughts, and all its taboos and negatives, the Latent Psyche "mixing-it-up" stage is a playground for creativity.

Call It Magic, Pavlovian Action, Supernatural,
God's Intervention Or Whatever;
The Latent Psyche Concept Works.

The amount of time the subconscious requires to develop an idea or view the problem from a different perspective is indeterminate. Some problems can be solved in seconds, while others might take overnight or even weeks. LEOs in a hostage situation, for instance, have the unique problem of creating new ideas in a very limited time frame. Old practitioners of this process, such as writers, ad execs, used to say "sleep on it" as a way of allowing the subconscious to act. This could be good advice for them, but to those on a life-or-death deadline there might not be enough sleep-time….

Therefore, a new method was needed to permit the subconscious, the Latent Psyche – the hidden powers of the brain - to come up with a creation. The trick is to have a switch or instantly available gimmick that would turn the Latent Psyche mode on almost at will. It has to be something that creates a concentration level high enough to block out all conscious thought of the project at hand. Of course, it has to be simple enough that its involvement didn't disrupt the project. Driving across town to the gym for a work-out would hardly be conducive to time well managed. Hours needed for "sleeping on it" or for delving into a hobby that forces a stoppage when things are just getting fun is also not favorable to creativity.

Some possibilities immediately come to mind: focused, yet mindless, subconscious-stroking activities might include playing simple video games, especially if they can be accessed without leaving your keyboard. However, complicated video games might require memory space and analogy time which will crowd the mind with useless Information. Health issue notwithstanding, choking down Twinkies or savoring a cup of joe can also disrupt on-scene Information over-load to allow the brain some melding time. This switch, trick or gimmick is not set in stone and can be different to the situation at hand.

The card game, solitaire, is an excellent method for luring the mind into relaxed mode. There is no commitment to finish the game, save it or move on to the next level such as what other contests or engineered distractions might demand.

A Deck Of Cards Kept at Hand
Can be Used Anytime a Block Appears
Or a Fresh Approach is Needed.

Solitaire with the physical cards or an on-line version is not retentive inasmuch as the memory portion of the mind isn't compromised. Other diversions, such as hobbies, require thought process and memory action that might interfere with the Latent Psyche process of the current problem. In addition, when things aren't going well with a hobby, a negative mind-set can become counter-productive. Another alternative is to leave a radio on - volume very low. Focusing on a favorite song during stage four can sometimes serve as a mental picnic.

5) Creation
The birth of the idea. The "Eureka" moment. The discovery or solution to the problem can be a single word, the key to a character's dilemma or the resolution to a complex law enforcement issue. It can also be a fleeting instant such as when the suddenly crystal-clear answer, amid a mind spinning with Melded Information, just as suddenly re-Melds. The light bulb that turned on to shine upon the creation can just as quickly inadvertently be switched off.

Therefore, it is imperative that the idea or solutions are written down or somehow saved immediately. Even saying the revelation out loud can, in a manner of speaking, save it to memory. This latter tactic is most useful should the idea come in the middle of the sleep-night or while occupied with other consuming tasks such as any everyday function. Sans preservation of the Creation the idea producing machinery, once set-in motion, will continue to collate thereby risking the loss of the "Eureka" innovation. This is why it is important to be at a keyboard when the Creation is born and not at the gym or hobby room. It is vital to protect (write-down or save to memory) all ideas as they emerge. The first new concept might not be the best, but in conjunction with later innovations, it tends to foster the winning idea. Sending yourself a text message or vocalizing it into your handheld device works well.

Ideas, solutions and discoveries
are usually found under the rock.
Great ideas, solutions and discoveries
are under the rock that’s under the rock.

6) Reverberation
To confirm the pragmatic aspect of the Creation it is necessary to rehash the issue. Just because an idea was produced doesn't necessarily mean that it is the correct or best idea to solve the identified problem. An idea has been created and the urge to celebrate by making use of the Creation is very strong. However, good business practice mandates bouncing the new thought around. The creative process of the Latent Psyche Concept is capable of producing many ideas - some better than others. It is during this stage that the good ideas are sorted out from the not-so-good ones.

Ideas beget ideas: Many times, an idea seeker will create a Creation only to later have to acknowledge, if to no one other than him/herself, "I should have written/done it this way." Saying the new work out loud numerous times acts as a check and balance by letting the brain hear the concept from a different perspective. Reverberating, or bouncing the creation off another person(s) saves a lot of time and potential embarrassment. Looking at the idea from this oblique angle gives time to make observations such as asking, "is this the best idea? what if...?" which leads to confirmation or back to any of the other phases - Information, Melding, Latent Psyche.

Many creative people believe that ideas are the result of association - the connecting of one piece of information with another. Ideas formed by stringing together visual or mental stimuli still utilize the Latent Psyche Concept. These stimuli are the Information that Melds with Identification and though an idea might come quickly, it still is created in the dormant/hidden/undeveloped… portion of the mind - Latent Psyche. Some suggested practices that stimulate idea production:

* Join organizations, groups or clubs (Kiwanis, Lions, other volunteer) that are not of your circle of friends and acquaintances. Interaction with people of diverse backgrounds inspires creativity;

* Attend political meetings counter to your beliefs - not to argue your views, but to try to understand theirs from their perspective.

Practitioners of the Latent Psyche Concept sometimes experience a fast-forwarding or skipping steps. But in reality, the subconscious had automatically processed the supposedly missed steps. For many, getting started - putting down the first words, admitting there is a problem - is sometimes the hardest part. Therefore, it might help to begin with familiar portions and let the Latent Psyche work on the beginning.

Group brainstorming, thinking-outside-the-box, off-the-wall discussions is an informal tangential technique to solve problems before they become problems. It might be most helpful if PACUP (11), or select members thereof, regularly meet to conduct such sessions. A diverse group of law enforcement savvy, free-thinkers, bouncing ideas back and forth between themselves, is a productive method of creating solutions to issues yet to be imagined. In 2020, the world experienced the Coronavirus pandemic for which no one was prepared. There will be other “demics” some of which will directly or indirectly impact law enforcement. The goal of PACUP’s hand-picked assembly would be to conceptualize theoretical and abstract crises – from which formulated plans can be readied.

Leaders harbor visions of forthcoming years;
visionaries envision decades hence.

SUGGESTED QUESTIONS (step one of the Latent Psyche Concept)
The following are some questions that directly or indirectly impact police policy, but might best be addressed by police leaders. And yes, I realize most of these questions already have answers, but that doesn’t mean they are the best solutions for today … or tomorrow.

Though these questions are not necessarily solvable by the LE community and we might not have the wherewithal to implement solutions to all problems, we are in the best position for conceptualizing unique scenarios creating conditions that might fall outside the direct line of LE. Utilizing the powers of PACUP to tender solutions to contain/solve dilemmas and promote the successful practices of law enforcement. We most likely all experienced a little game played with our first FTO – “what would you do if….” It was meant to get us to think, not only of the proper and legal response, but to think outside the box – to come up with solutions that were unique to the situation. When confronted with an emergency, civilians call 9-1-1, but we are 9-1-1. Today, the call to 9-1-1 is to provide solutions that include:

1) Responsibility
a) Federal funds with strings-attached are not a gift. Who determines the quid-pro-quo? How do we negotiate better conditions?

b) If federal and state grants/income are the result of taxes collected from the citizens, are they not entitlements? In other words, if LE agencies are tasked with protecting the source of the income (the taxpayers) are the LE agencies not entitled to this money and if entitled, by what right do bureaucrats have in attaching conditions?

c) Should police focus more on solving crimes, preventing crime or social servicing? Who should decide the priorities?

d) When enforcing the law results in injury to civilians, what level of accountability should be placed on the officer and/or department in relation to parents, school boards, school teachers and their union who failed to instill the knowledge and lessons of the laws?

e) Should state and local police agencies become autonomous – a de facto 5th branch of government (the U.S. Constitution does not preclude this, though some state constitutions might)? In other words, should the chief of police be elected (same as a sheriff) and thus be responsible only to the citizens or should the chief be appointed by a special board of “experts” to serve for a limited time (a lame duck) or life-time? In most jurisdictions, the prosecutor, mayor and attorney general are elected – why not the Chief?

2) Riot Control
a) America was founded on a riot, e.g., the Boston Tea Party. Are we (America, per se.), ready for a revolution? Should we be? Is there any condition or point in which LE should join/promote a revolution?

b) How much control should police use to stop property-damaging mobs? We’ve tried dogs, water cannon, cordoning off, flash-bangs and other physical devices with limited success. Way back in cowboy days, when an unruly subject was resisting arrest, they threw a couple of ropes around him. The concept led to a modern-day “rope trick:” the net. The problem was, how to remove the net, especially if the subject needed immediate medical help. Tomorrow’s rope/net could be inflatable jail cells, electrified barb wire, or…?

c) Who should determine the acceptable level of a crowd/mob: an elected local, state or federal official? A special panel? The local, state, federal LE head? Must police wait until a person or property suffers damage before acting?

3) Standards
a) Should hiring standards including, age, mental acuity, physical size and/or race be regulated on a national, state or local level and who should make this determination: elected officials, the head of the police agency, a panel of citizens...?

b) Training criteria and what rookies are trained to do - or not do - should include: CPR, choke-hold, Narcan, fires, lethal force, domestic disputes, drug/suicide interventions, psychology, public relations, enforcing laws….

c) Is Accumulated Stress Disorder ASD (12) real and if so, who should establish testing and treatment criteria?

d) Will lowering standards act as a form of appeasement and thus a magnet to attract cop wannabees?

4) Review Panels
a) Should review panels be made up of peers only or comprised of a group that includes a representative number of demographically correct residents, “politically correct” residents, elected officials (both parties or only the controlling party), LEOs (of rank and/or street-level officers)?

b) Would a review panel work best if done on a daily – weekly – basis?

c) How about rotating review boards comprised of officers from mixed departments, e.g.: Agency A reviews agency B while agency C reviews agency A while agency D reviews agency B…. This rotating of agencies will keep at bay the mentality of: “you cut my agency some slack and we’ll cut your agency some slack”.

Every problem has a solution, including the problem of discovering the solution. Ideas, ingenuity, creativeness are the backbone of American industry, education and law enforcement; it’s what made this nation the success story of the millenniums. The twenty-first century finds law enforcement under unprecedented pressure where the protection of our liberties is in the hands of the police leaders to come up with answers to old and new problems as well as solutions to questions that have yet to be asked.

Appeasement, accepting unacceptable conditions that are, for example but not limited to: restrictions against stop & frisk, ignoring the broken window theory (13) and for the sake of securing funding, are never acceptable when lives and duty are in the balance. Fearing old concepts prevents new ones – problem solvers envision where they want to be not what they fear. Therefore, the solution to accepting unacceptable situations is to create ideas and concepts that become acceptable (appease) to those who are making the conditions unacceptable. Now, let's see, what's a good title for this treatise; red three on a black four....


From Ohio and West Virginia
to Montana and Maine;
From Texas and Colorado
to Vermont and Tennessee;

This is America, the land we love, And we are the thin blue line that God entrusted to protect thee and thou and you and me.

About the Author: Chuck Klein is former police officer, licensed Private Investigator (ret.), active member of International Association of Law Enforcement Firearms Instructors (IALEFI) and author of: INSTINCT COMBAT SHOOTING, Defensive Handgunning for Police; LINES OF DEFENSE, Police Ideology and the Constitution; POLICE (definition portion of Encyclopedia of Science, Technology and Ethics, Macmillan Reference USA, an imprint of Thompson Gale ISBN 0-02-865991-0). Information about his books and e-mail contact is available on his web site:

(1) The author's rendition of For Want of a Nail, "a proverb having numerous variations over several centuries, reminding that seemingly unimportant acts or omissions can have grave and unforeseen consequences.” Wikipedia:

(2) I coined the term in PROBLEMS AND SOLUTIONS, UNIQUE TO LAW ENFORCEMENT, the complete reference is included.

(3) Mr. Floyd died after being handcuffed and pinned to the ground by an officer’s knee in an episode that was captured on video, touching off nationwide protests.

(4) Dr. Kenneth Manges is a Forensic Psychologist a consultant and recognized vocational expert covering PTSD and other such conditions. His analyses have been documented for their clarity and scientific rigor. Well regarded in the litigation arena, his evaluations have been consistently upheld in both state and federal courts.

(5) Study from The Washington Post, 22 June 2016.

(6) President Harry S. Truman in a radio and television address, Sept. 1, 1950.

(7) The line is from the 1967 movie, Cool Hand Luke. Spoken first by the warden, (actor Strother Martin).

(8) Webster's 9th New Collegiate Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, publisher, 1983.

(9) Excerpted from the author's treatise: THE LATENT PSYCHE CONCEPT, A Formula for Originating Ideas. General Science Journal Mar, 2015; Berkeley Electronic Press

(10) The line is from the movie, “Patton,” and most likely Hollywood script writing, though it is indicative of leaders who became successful by studying the opposition’s means and motives. Actor George C. Scott (playing General Patton), while watching his adversary, Nazi Field Marshal Erwin Rommel fall into Patton’s trap, utters to himself those words. The real General Patton was known to study his enemy and use salty language.

(11) The National Association of Chiefs of Police, in conjunction with the FOP, FOPA, National Sheriffs’ Association and other like organizations ban together as the Police And Citizen Unification Panel (PACUP) as presented in the article titled: PROBLEMS AND SOLUTIONS UNIQUE TO LAW ENFORCEMENT, PART I (The Chief of Police Magazine, Summer 2020).

(12) Accumulative Stress Disorder (ASD) is a condition akin to PTSD. It appears as a result of years of stress that creates an “us-versus-them” mindset - a loss of reality of how non-cops live and behave. War-zone military personnel, deployed only for months, must be in a kill-or-be-killed state of mind – 24/7. LEOs are active-duty for years, decades, but must transition – everyday - from a criminal catcher to a father to an OD saver to a spouse to warding off attacks (verbal, physical, lethal) to…. Please see PROBLEMS AND SOLUTIONS, UNIQUE TO LAW ENFORCEMENT, PART I  (The Chief Of Police Magazine, Summer 2020).

(13)The theory is visible signs of disorder and misbehavior encourage further disorder and misbehavior, leading to serious crimes. It was notably implemented and popularized by New York City mayor Rudolf Giuliani and his police commissioner, William Bratton, during the 1990s. Psychology Today Magazine

The New Encyclopedia Britannica 1979 Vol III, Pg 227
The Creative Process, Brewster Ghiselin 1952, pg. 12
The Creative Process, Brewster Ghiselin 1952, pg. 113
The New Encyclopedia Britannica 1979 Vol. VII, pg 754



Chuck Klein, ©  2021

Illustration by A. Levine, Cincinnati

Published in the  Spring 2021 issue of THE CHIEF OF POLICE magazine,
the Official Publication of The National Association of Chiefs of Police.

Also see: LAW OFFICER MAGAZINE 17 Jul 2023 


Should Thou commandeth us into the
Valley of the shadow of death,
We shall fend off evil, for Thou art with us;
And our Glock comforts us.

Thou bestoist us with skills,
of unyielding integrity and
giveth the capacity that stand us all.
Our cup runneth over with gratitude

Chief: you will either find the below concept to be stupid/crazy, a great idea or will generate your thinking of new ways to address the issue … or some combination of the above.

There have been, articles, books - volumes - written on how to improve morale; everything from psychological and public media "pep-talks" to awards, to new state-of-the-art equipment. The transition from revolvers to pistols, way back in the '80s, to equalize firepower against the bad guys was an unmitigated boost to morale. Of course, other items such as protective vests and personal radios were great, but they had trade-offs - Radios were heavy on the belt and you couldn't be 2-7 without being monitored. Vests were heavy and hot. Hi-cap pistols were comforting … and cool.

The age-old grade-school teachings of the notion that the "policeman" is your friend is wrong. An on-duty, uniformed LEO is not a friend in the sense that you can get in their face if you disagree with him/her or put your arm around this official of the law like you would a pal or buddy, e.g., if you try to touch them without their express consent it might be deemed an assault. On the other hand, a cop is not the enemy. LEOs are more of a trusted neighbor - a trustee of keeping peace; the representative of the representatives the voters elected to establish and in-turn, enforce the rule of law. This matter of social trust might best be addressed as education via public relations. Trust is related to morale inasmuch as if one thinks little of their employment conditions, they can't be expected to think well of (trust) others and vice-versa such as citizens respecting LEOs and LEOs respecting citizens.

"Social trust, the faith that strangers will abide by established norms, is one of society’s most fundamental building blocks. It underlies economic growth, political consensus and effective law enforcement. When people witness better enforcement of the law—including the protection of clearly defined property rights and less manifest nepotism and favoritism at high levels of government—social trust can rise." (2).

If nothing else, the Pandemic of 2020 coupled with an unprecedented demand for police "reform" due to protests/riots related to in-custody deaths, morale among the ranks deteriorated significantly. This is not justifiable, only understandable.

Morale is the capacity of a unit's members to maintain belief in an institution or goal, particularly in the face of opposition or hardship. Morale is often referenced by authority figures as a generic value judgment of the willpower, obedience, and self-discipline of a group tasked with performing duties assigned by a superior. "Morale is the capacity of a group of people to pull together persistently and consistently in pursuit of a common purpose" (3). Morale is important in the military, because it improves corps cohesion. Without good morale, a force will be more likely to give up or surrender. Morale is usually assessed at a collective, rather than an individual level. Morale is also considered to be an important part of a fighting unit known as the esprit de corps (the French ofttimes have words to describe feelings that are not in the English language) - the comradery of battle compatriots. Unlike skills or knowledge, morale is an intangible that can't be measured by a simple test and it improves or deteriorates with changes in conditions.

The morale of the police rank & file is paramount to effective and trustworthy guardians of society. But morale of the public, including elected officials, is equally necessary for a law-abiding proletariat and aristocracy alike. Of course, the media (including social as well and commercial sources) can and do control or sway opinion that generates morals and morale. The key to the media is in the persons and powers of various groups who influence the diverse media projectors.

Police officers are a special breed. Our secular one-size-fits-all government cannot just take anyone and make him or her an LEO by to training, no matter how extensive or sensitive the training. A cop is one who first and foremost wants to be a law-enforcement officer. He/she must honestly like being in a position to help people while at the same time having a strong sense of right and wrong, must exhibit ethical leadership and have a healthy fear of being labeled a coward. This is all well and good as long as the officer is able to maintain a high level of morale - officers must feel confident in their own safety to be able to successfully protect society as well as themselves. It would be unconscionable to expect LEOs to be equipped with nothing less than state-of-the-art, optimal tools and products in order to effectively perform their sworn duties. American politicians have done well over the years to provide our LEOs with hi-visibility emergency lights, personal radios, vests and other products and tactics. Now might be the time to bring about a new change to not only enhance police safety and boost morale, but to better protect society.

"Police brutality means to act as an ordinary prudent person,
without a policeman's [sic] self-discipline,
would surely act under the stresses of police work."

Before about the 1980s, the semi-auto pistol was deemed unreliable, subject to malfunction, jams, inaccuracy, and limited in makes and models and anemically powered by over-penetrating ammunition - the 9mm ball cartridge (after legislatively banning dum-dum/cop-killer bullets). In addition, of the few quality semi-autos on the market most all were single-action requiring either the carrier to use both hands to charge the chamber or carried with a round in the chamber and the safety on. Most police agencies believed any fully cocked (hair-trigger) handgun to be a very dangerous practice as evidenced by a number of shootings when an officer's cocked handgun accidentally discharged with lethal results.

Prior to about 2000, carrying any type of firearm open or concealed was prohibited except for LEOs. Then followed a run of legislative and court cases that eroded this exclusivity (not the least of which was the author's class action Ohio law suit (5). Almost overnight most states commenced permitting/licensing procedures for all qualified citizens to pack heat in public. Carrying a gun was no longer an exclusive police privilege. This generated a consciousness of anxiety as well as a sub-conscious lessening of police morale. In other words, any civilian could legally carry a concealed firearm - you didn't have to be a cop to do so. Couple this loss of uniqueness with court rulings narrowing the use of force by LEOs and expanding civilian stand-your-ground laws and morale, again, took a hit.

Due to mechanical and manufacturing improvements and to meet the demand, gun makers began producing more semi-auto models that had a larger capacity than the tried & true 6-shot revolver. In addition, and with pressure from police and the expanding number of self-defense concealed carriers, ammunition producers created bullets with greater stopping power. Now with the bad guys packing these hi-capacity handguns loaded with more devastating bullets, it became evident that the protection and ability for LEOs to successfully survive a firefight, the tried & true was no longer true. Knowing that the criminal element was out-gunning the police, morale took an additional blow. Well into the 1980s, and a little behind the curve, law enforcement agencies began transitioning to double/safe-action, semi-auto pistols with up to 15 round magazines full of the same man-stopping rounds that were being used against them - morale improved.

Over a 10-year period between 2005 and 2014, 62.2 percent of officers murdered with firearms in the line of duty were shot within 0 to 10 feet of perpetrators. Of those incidents, 44.8 percent included events where offenders, within 0 to 5 feet, killed officers with firearms (6).

The question "why do police shoot so many times?" was succinctly answered by FBI Special Agent John Huber. "In cases when lethal use of force is justified, inflicting a single, non-fatal wound is not enough to remove the threat that person represents to the officer or others. One single shot from police is not enough when use of lethal force is legally justified. Unless an airway or certain parts of the central nervous system, such as the brain stem or upper spinal cord, are struck by a bullet, a person isn't guaranteed to lose consciousness until they lose about 40-to-50 percent of their blood … That's why officers are trained to fire multiple times when they are justified in doing so." (7).

"In the 1980s and 1990s, police found themselves outgunned by criminals ... We have allowed ourselves to become a country where the weapons available on the street force police officers to respond in kind to survive. Until the laws change, the police will be on the responsive end of an arms race over which they have no control. It is not the time to deprive our police officers of the equipment they need to survive on the streets." (8).

Perhaps, it's time to return some amount of exceptionality - exclusiveness - to the out-gunned and demoralized street officer by issuing something only active-duty police can possess - machine-pistols (hand-held submachine guns). Wait, wait Chief … hear me out. Not to disregard the reality that the bad-guys/gals are currently and equally (or better) armed than we are, but because they can't pragmatically possess a fully-automatic firearm. Machineguns are tightly registered and most difficult to obtain via legal channels - illegal channels are also difficult inasmuch as these registered weapons are few in number and held by responsible persons who keep these expensive weapons very secure. Converting semi-auto firearms to full auto requires the skill and expertise of a competent (also registered) gunsmith.

Allowing LEOs to carry - both on and off duty - a select-fire, fully automatic handgun would return the exclusivity factor to being a cop. Knowing that civilians can't be so-armed can be a significant morale booster. How cool is that? Just the realizations that their Chief would issue such an exclusive, special and restricted tool of the trade is a feel-good thing. Of course, the department would only issue machine-pistols to officers who qualify - qualification that would entail significant training.

Proper training is the key to
surviving attacks -
lethal as well as litigious.

Packing a concealed submachine gun capable of firing 15 - 9mm rounds in a very short time span, is not a whole lot different - for a trained operator - than 15 shots fired in rapid succession thru a semi-auto. Besides, a department rule that the SMG must be carried in semi-auto condition or in 3-round burst mode would negate the spray-and-pray tactic attributed to military troops under entirely different circumstances.

From this writer's personal experience with submachine guns, they can be more accurate and safer (to the officer) than a semi-auto. With a full auto, the shooter need only visualize the target (instinctively by looking at a small point on the target or by focusing on the mechanical/optic sight) ONCE. Whereas, the utilization of semi-auto requires time to re-align the sight picture with each pull of the trigger. Thus, the time, albeit seconds or portions thereof, can be used to the adversary's (target's) advantage. Moreover, rapid fire with a semi-auto, sans realigning sights, can causes misses - especially under the pressure of a shoot-out.

A machine-pistol with select-fire options of 3-round burst, full-auto or semi-auto would be a PR advantage. When operated in 3-round bursts a single pull of the trigger has a greater possibility of stopping a lethal threat before having to cease firing to access the condition of the assailant. Heretofore, officers ofttimes just kept firing - up to a full magazine of 15 rounds before stopping to learn of the effect of their action. This many rounds generated much negative press. In addition, the chances of an errant shot when 15 individual trigger pulls are utilized in emptying an entire magazine at a suspect as opposed to a maximum number of 5-trigger pulls while deploying a SMG in 3-shot mode before emptying an entire magazine. Then there is the time factor: if the officer stops after each single-shot trigger pull to access the situation and decides another round is needed - after reconnoitering the sight alignment - a still active-shooter will have that time to continue to inflict lethal harm on anyone, including the police who are trying to stop the perp.

Finally, there's the deterrent factor. It's well established that perps savor bragging rights for their battles with police. For a loser to be able to show a bullet-wound scar to fellow inmates is a status symbol, i.e., surviving being shot by the cops is a significant morale booster to the criminal. To put this another way, losers with nothing to lose and knowing that today's rapid EMT response and modern medical efficiency increases their possibility of surviving a single gunshot wound. However, the realization that the LEO utilizing a fully automatic firearm will likely mean more bullet holes and that equates not only to a lower chance of survival, but greater pain if not instantly body-baggable. Thus, perps would tend to be more agreeable to capitulation than face the devastating effect of almost simultaneous multiple gunshot wounds. Therefore, and aside from the factor of higher morale that equates to better policing, the public is better protected by trained LEOs carrying a fully automatic machine-pistol. Certainly, not all officers on a force will qualify (or even want to) for the honor of carrying a machine-pistol, but the public, the press and the criminals won't know which cops are so armed thus another deterrent dynamic.

Currently and available only to law enforcement agencies, Glock and UZI are the only manufactures of submachine HANDGUNS (though UZI does not offer their PRO 8 select-fire pistol in the USA at this time). The Glock 18C is similar to the Model 17, but includes an external fire-selector allowing semi-automatic to full-automatic firing modes. Presently, Heckler & Koch manufactures a short-barreled firearm with select-fire full/3-shot/semi functions, but with a telescoping stock and accessory bars that preclude concealed carry (MP7A1) (9).

Some federal agencies issue Glock 18Cs but they are not readily available. Demand by police agencies will surely change that. Establishing a certification and testing program by police agencies should generate public and LE publicity that might encourage gun makers to begin higher production of SMG pistol - a demand-it-and-they-will-build-it scenario.

At present there are many firearm training facilities, but few qualified to instruct in the use of submachine guns. Three that have specific SMG courses are: Tactical Defense Institute (established 1995) a Midwest facility dedicated to civilian, military and law enforcement firearms training - including submachine guns. TDI is operated by owner and CEO, John Benner a long-time LEO and SWAT team originator. Front Sight Firearms Training Institute, a well-known western United States operation run by founder and director, Dr. Ignatius Piazza. The Georgia Public Safety Training Center, located in the south, it is part of the Georgia Public Safety Training Center. The NRA LE Div. offers training to those aspiring to become SMG trainers via their Select-Fire Instructor Course and might also have a list of SMG academies (10).

The Federal Firearms Act of 1934 requiring a registration fee of $200 with each machinegun ownership change does not apply to police agencies (11). There is no prohibition against a legitimate police agency purchasing a full auto firearm from a legitimate maker of such firearms, then registering it under the 1934 NFA, before issuing it to a member (sworn personnel as defined by law) of this agency to carry on and/or off-duty. But, don't just take the word of a mere writer. The author put this to the BATF in an email dated 22 Feb 2021 (copy of email message available on request). Their reply:

"This may be a bit overbroad. Certainly [sic] a legitimate State or local government agency can receive and possess registered machineguns under the NFA and under the GCA, 18 U.S.C 922(o). They can issue these to bona fide employees/LE agents of that government entity. These individual officers can possess these (possess under the authority of the government agency) in their official capacities. However, the words “off duty” require clarification.

"Officers are not allowed to possess these in their personal capacities. For example, if an officer paid his/her agency $1500 and then had a machinegun issued that they could keep and could take home, use in their personal capability at the range, it is questionable whether this is done in any “official” capacity. Stated another way, an officer cannot use his agency or his official capacity as a pretense to obtain firearms that he could not otherwise obtain in his personal capacity.

"Of course, if the agency expects an officer to take firearms home while “off duty” because he/she may be called at any point in cases of emergency (or because he/she is “on duty” during the drive to and from work), this possession is within the officer’s official capacity and within the law. As an example, in one recent 6th Circuit case (12) the court considered this issue and set it out correctly as follows.

"…the law prohibits private individuals from possessing a machine gun. The only persons who are lawfully authorized to possess machine guns are federal or state agents, such as police officers, acting in an official capacity at the time of possession of the machine gun….

"Note though that if the officer simply used his job as an officer to obtain a personal firearm not otherwise obtainable under the law, this would not be in his official capacity.

"Bottom line, the government exceptions in Federal firearms law are not a means by which law enforcement officer [sic] are subject to different rules than the general public while in their private capacities."

In other words (author's take), if an officer is departmentally required to be armed, he/she may possess (but not own) a department owned full-auto rifle, carbine and/or handgun.

The only downside (morale-wise) to the introduction of machine-pistols might be in the inability of the heads of police agencies to convince elected officials and the media of the importance of the new weaponry. Projecting and disseminating a strong, convincing and confident stand to equip officers with unsurpassed mechanical advantages will do wonders for the safety and morale of officers and civilians alike … well, all except maybe societies miscreants. Pragmatically, mastering a machine-pistol requires a high level of expertise and only a few may qualify or even want to be responsible for such a demanding weapon. For sure, there is always the possibility of errant shots from a full auto firearm, just like there are possible errant shots from revolvers, hi-cap pistols, shotguns and "assault" type rifles. However, and regardless of the firearm used, the chances of off-target strikes during CQC conditions has always been on the low side.

There can't be anything more demoralizing than to face battle under-armed - and police officers are always facing a potential battle. That's why police, universally, switched from the revolver to the hi-capacity semi-auto pistol when the criminal element began packing more effective and deadly weaponry in the 1980s. To allow the option of carrying a defensive tool that the opposition doesn't have is not only a confidence and morale builder, but a better way to protect society by reducing the ability of an active shooter to continue shooting or at least convincing the shooter he/she is outgunned. Just the mere concept, fostered by the chief, is certain to improve morale. And yes, the submachine handgun theory might not be in the thinking of many of today's LEO Chiefs … but wasn't the same resistance witnessed prior to the switching from revolver to the semi-auto?

For those charged with protection of society
positive LE morale is directly proportional to public
and officer safety and inversely proportional
to dangerous criminal activity.

About the Author: Chuck Klein is a former police officer, licensed Private Investigator (ret.), active member of International Association of Law Enforcement Firearms Instructors (IALEFI) and author of: INSTINCT COMBAT SHOOTING, Defensive Handgunning for Police; LINES OF DEFENSE, Police Ideology and the Constitution; POLICE (definition portion of Encyclopedia of Science, Technology and Ethics, Macmillan Reference USA, an imprint of Thompson Gale ISBN 0-02-865991-0). Information about his books and e-mail contact is available on his web site:

(1) Author's rendering of a portion of the 23rd Psalm.

(2) Kevine Vallier, professor of philosophy, Bowling Green State University. Excerpted from his book, Trust in a Polarized Age, as reviewed in The Wall Street Journal, 19 Dec 2020, print edition.

(3) Oft-quoted and accepted definition of morale: Alexander "Alec" H. Leighton, sociologist and psychiatrist. (1908-2007).

(4) The New Centurions, 1970, 1st Ed., Joseph Wambaugh. Library of Congress Cat. No. 77-131254, pg. 171.

(5) Anatomy of a Constitutional Challenge To Carrying Concealed Firearms Laws (Klein vs. Leis). A comprehensive look at the political, LE, and legal reasons for and against civilian firearms possession. Though the Ohio Supreme Court ruled against an Ohio Constitutional right for civilian carrying of concealed weapons, they acknowledged the right to carry unconcealed. As a result of the arguments presented, the Ohio state legislature was persuaded to implement concealed carrying license statutes that has been referenced in law schools and other states' concealed carry laws:

(6) FBI Law Enforcement Bulletin, 13 Jul 2016, "What Is A Safe Distance?"

(7) Times Picayune-New Orleans Advocate, Emily Lane, Published Mar 9, 2016

(8) "Civilian Firepower Put Police In Arms Race, Bernie Sullivan", Hartford Courant, Sep 12, 2014

(9) UZI.


Heckler & Koch. Smith & Wesson:

"S&W does not manufacture a full-auto pistol or a sub-machinegun nor do we have plans to in the future."

Colt and Sig Sauer did not reply to my query.


(10) Tactical Defense Institute: Front Sight Firearms Training Institute:; Georgia Public Safety Training Center: National Rifle Association LE Division:

(11) The National Firearms Act of 1934 and as amended by Title II of the Gun Control Act (GCA) of 1968 and the 1986 Firearm Owners’ Protection Act made it illegal to own or transfer a machinegun - Exceptions were made for transfers of machine guns to, or possession of machine guns by, government agencies…. The ATF Form 5 allows for the tax-exempt transfer and registration of NFA items to government agencies, including law enforcement. A digital fillable version is available on

(12) United States v. Spicer, 656 F. App'x 154, 159-60 (6th Cir. 2016).



Chuck Klein © 2021

Published in the Summer 2021 issue of THE CHIEF OF POLICE magazine,
the Official Publication of The National Association of Chiefs of Police.

LEOs are those who fight to right unrightable wrongs.
This is our destiny; this is our grit.

If you see us comin’ better straighten up;
a lotta foes didn’t and a lotta of 'em wish they had.

We’d rather face an armed perp
than lie a coward in our grave.

From Ohio and West Virginia to Montana and Maine;
from Texas and Colorado to
Vermont and Tennessee
This is America – and the people we shield.(1)



Due to calls for police reform and funding cuts along with threats of eliminating qualified immunity for law enforcement officers, it is becoming difficult to recruit "suitable" LEOs. Even though there is always a large quantity of applicants, the number of those who aspire to be social workers or only want the power of a badge and gun are becoming significantly greater than those who fit the definition of a law-enforcement officer:

One who desires to help others while at the same time has a strong sense of right and wrong, subscribes to a healthy fear of being labeled a coward and believes in the rule that applies personally as well as to all others - No Lying, No Cheating, No Stealing, No Exceptions, No Excuses; while at the same time inherently knows that the Doctrine of the Lesser of Two Evils or Vital Exigent Circumstance supersedes this rule.

Though this fits only a small segment of today’s society and it might read like a soundbite from a politician; its truth is undeniable.

Being hired by a modern police agency is not a guarantee to a long-term profession. Because there are so many opportunities to commit unintentional, career-ending screw-ups, astute police officers always have an eye on the future. Holding a job that involves instant life-or-death decisions, high speed driving, possible false arrest charges and surviving departmental politics is a formula for vocation ending ulcers. Everybody makes mistakes, however, when police officers make them, it usually means someone is physically, financially and/or mentally injured. Cops know this or should have known it, when they signed up for the force. They also know or learn that certain mistakes, unlike many non-police jobs, are career-ending. Not only that, but employment terminating errors are more likely to happen by the very nature of police work. These are some of the reasons agency turn-over is high, thus a constant flow of new recruits is necessary. That's why police officers are deployed to extended and intense training classes and programs. Very few other professions pay while their members learn, much less encourage enrollment to paid in-service training agendas including such valuable perks as college degrees.

We seem to have gotten away from the original intent of hiring police officers - to keep the peace and to provide this country's first line of defense. They were to have been our protectors not only from physical violence, but from orders and actions that are unconstitutional and against their sworn obligations.

Individual police (peace) officers - public servants – have always had as their daily goal: keeping the peace. A tally of arrests made, citations issued and commendations awarded, i.e., promotion enhancements, is not conducive to public service. As public servants, police officers have historically strived to serve the public by protecting rights and "keeping the peace." A police public servant is not a social worker, hand-holder or babysitter – but sometimes that’s what they have had to do to “keep the peace”. Trying to see who can make the most arrests or write the greatest number of tickets, in other words promoting oneself, has never been what being a police public servant is all about.

The accepted method of recruiting cadets for a police academy has been: wait to see who applies and then run them through a battery of cognitive, physical, and background tests before admission to the academy and department indoctrination. Trouble is, negative ingrained issues are difficult to determine by short term testing. Another method of filling the ranks is to lure certified officers laterally from other departments. This commercial competition might be great for the individual officer, but it doesn’t solve the problem of securing qualified personnel for the profession, per se. Perhaps, a different approach is needed.

1) American secondary school systems might be the salvation of the recruitment dilemma. Almost 100 years ago, the Future Farmers of America (2) was founded by a group of young agrarians. Their mission was to prepare upcoming citizens for the challenges of feeding a growing population. This extracurricular student organization teaches the lessons that agriculture is more than planting and harvesting – it’s a science, it’s a business and it’s an art.

As a very successful youth association it has changed lives and prepared its members for premier leadership, personal growth and career success through agricultural education. FFA has helped generations rise up to meet those challenges by assisting its members to develop their own unique talents and explore their interests in a broad range of agricultural career pathways. Substitute cops for farmers and LE for agriculture … and, the Future Cops of America (FCA) is born. This after-school activity would be in a position to give impressionable young adults insight into a quasi-military profession and not only instill citizenship, but help perpetuate a profession for those aspiring to become part of the law-enforcement community.

Mentored by local, county and state law enforcement agencies, FCA members would gain a perception into what policing is all about. Excursions to LE training academies, penal institutions and trial court facilities could be very educational. Ride-alongs (where allowable) could not only enhance the learning curve, but sort out the wannabees from the truly dedicated by allowing close observation by veteran officers. Where (and when) permissible firearms safety and application experience is deployed it would be, at the least, a public service. Though laws in some states limit underage persons from owning or possessing firearms, these restrictions are currently being challenged in the courts. In addition, the tutelage and experience this next generation of responsible citizens would gain - even if most don't become LEOs - would be beneficial to all Americans. Police agencies would also receive the advantage of an opportunity to access and select the best candidates for recruitment once FCA members come of age. Perhaps, NACOP could investigate a trial run by seeking a school board to sponsor the program. Private corporations, such as Nike, have been most generous with donations for sports items, and might be approachable for supplying clothing, contacts, reading material and other educational criteria.

Though the Boy Scouts of America have offered law enforcement options for Explorer Scouts, it is limited to only members of BSA. Recently, the BSA filed for bankruptcy and is currently under criminal investigation for child-sex abuse issues. (3)

On the downside, the connection between youth and police must be carefully administered inasmuch as no powers of arrest or carrying weapons can be conferred or inferred to FCA members, lest they be compared to the Hitler Youth movement of the 1930s. (4)

2) With human longevity increasing, touting (advertising) a police career might best be sold as a stepping stone to a different and new mid-life career. Many private and public sector employers are very inclined to hire those with a law enforcement background.

The second to last thing a morally responsible, prudent person wants to do is kill another human being regardless of how reprehensible, villainous or dangerous that person might be. The last thing this morally responsible, prudent person wants to do is be killed by that reprehensible, villainous and dangerous person.

There are only two methods of shooting a handgun: Sighted fire and non-sighted fire. Sighted fire is defined as utilizing an optical, mechanical/fixed or laser sight. Non-sighted fire, aka instinct shooting, is defined as looking at the target with total disregard to any optical, mechanical/fixed or laser sighting apparatus. (5) Someday, a sharp attorney is going to challenge a LEO who was the shooter in an officer involved shooting. The questioning could very well go like this:

THE SCENE: A court room during a civil or criminal trial where a perpetrator has been shot by a LEO.

Defense Attorney: "Officer, when you shot the victim who was 15-feet directly in front of you, did you use your sights?”

LEO: "Yes."

Defense Attorney: "Did you seek and obtain a sight picture as taught to you before shooting each shot?"

LEO: "Yes."

Defense Attorney: "Therefore, during that short interval when your eyes were focused on seeking and confirming this sight picture and that it was aligned on the target, is it not possible that you did NOT see my client dropping his gun [showing his empty hands – surrendering]? How many times did you verify your sight picture before firing your service pistol? No further questions.

“In other words, ladies and gentlemen of the jury, the time it takes to raise one’s hands is about the same amount of time it takes a police officer to seek the optimal sight picture, be it optical, mechanical/fixed or laser. In still other words, had this officer never taken his/her eyes off of the victim he/she would have seen the victim dropping the gun [surrendering/showing empty hands].”

Police handguns have always incorporated some form of aperture for aligning the firearm to the target. Up until about the 1990s, a notch and blade sufficed as the method for aligning the bore of the handgun with a target. It was simple, but necessitated instruction, talent and practice to accurately cause the bullet to impact the intended target. But, more important, it required time to create this alignment – time that was critical not only if the target was shooting back, but if the target was moving … or capitulating.

During lethal force shoot-outs, law enforcement officers miss their intended target between 70 – 80 percent of the time. (6) This could be the result of spray-and-pray phenomena generated by hi-capacity handguns. Officers with 15 round magazines might feel safer firing more shots than their counterparts of yesteryear when 6-shot revolvers were the issue/carry norm. Disastrous results of excessive shots are well documented.

Court decisions such as Popow v. City of Margate, 476 F.Supp. 1237 (N.J. 1979), et al., mandate officers must be trained in all phases of handgun deployments. This includes moving target techniques. Impacting a moving target while trying to maintain a "sight picture" is truly a lucky hit and might be criminal if errant shots strike an innocent. The Popow decision made it clear that police officers must have job related training.

Sighted Fire Concepts
Laser Sights: This once questionable add-on has become a factory option on many handguns and, battery failure notwithstanding, is as mechanically reliable as the firearm itself. In addition, to being very accurate they create a convincing and intimidating factor.

However, laser sights are best deployed under very CERTAIN conditions. These conditions are moderate distances, low light and reflective target material. In bright sunshine they are almost useless. When the target is of a soft, light-absorbing material, such as dark clothing, it doesn’t reflect making it difficult to see. In addition, and even under the best of conditions, it takes time to find the point of light on your target - time that might cost you your life. In other words, laser sights are superfluous and could be a hindrance in CQC situations. Yeah, I know competition shooters use optics even for moving targets … but unlike beat officers, these experts consume 10s of thousands of rounds of ammo and practice almost daily. If, of course, the combat distance is outside the close-quarter combat arena, then by all means the use of available sights is suggested.

Flash Sight Picture: Proponents of this ideology suggest that the shooter, as the gun comes up to the shooting position, should somehow, establish a sight picture in a flash (be it mechanical or optical). In other words, they are saying that all that is required is a quick look at the sights and then bang the gun. Sounds good. Trouble is, what if the sights aren't really in-line and the shooter must spend portions of seconds or even whole seconds looking for that flash, a correct sight picture…? On the other hand, if the sights are in line when the gun comes into battery, why should the shooter need to spend time looking for the sight picture in the first place? Furthermore, how would the "flash sight picture" shooter handle a moving target? By lead and follow through? This isn't Sunday afternoon at the trap and skeet field. Suffice it to say, that at CQC ranges ANY amount of time spent looking for sight pictures is time that your assailant can be putting to good use - against you.

Look At The Front Sight Only: Yeah sure, like what they've been teaching you all along, the correct sight picture, is one where BOTH the front and rear sight are in alignment is all bunk. Make up your minds fellahs, either the shooter looks at BOTH sights or no sights. Once again, time spent looking for your sights will be time that can be used against you. Lawyer: “Ladies and gentlemen of the jury, the officer admits to utilizing only the front sight, as he/she was trained to do. However, his shot struck and killed my client who was standing behind and above the officer’s intended target.”

Proper Sight Alignment Yields Greater Accuracy: Okay, you got me there, but only at distances outside the … it's you or me 21-foot combat range. Well, maybe that's a slight exaggeration. Most shooters, under match (not combat) conditions could shoot tighter groups utilizing BOTH sights. But in CQC firefights we're only talking about a few inches and if you are able to impress a triple-tap, four-inch group on the chest of the perp, sans sights, as opposed to a two-inch sighted group, surely the perp won't know the difference. However, if because you spent even a fraction of a second to line up your sights the perp shot you, then your two-inch group never got out of the barrel! At closer distances time becomes even more essential and pin-point accuracy less meaningful.

Finger Pointing:
Some well-known, but old school, practitioners of combat shooting taught all that was necessary for CQC firefighting was to point your index finger at the target. They usually went on to say, practicing this method, your handgun will instinctively point to the target. Under the doctrine of doing what you’re trained to do; when under extreme stress LEOs will point their finger at their attacker instead of the index finger on the trigger.

Indexing: The act of bringing into one’s realm of shooting the front portion (slide/barrel) of the handgun while in the act of coming into battery. Instinct Combat Shooting is not just looking at the target, per se, it is looking at (focusing – intense focusing) on a small portion of the target – such as a button or dirt spot on the target (the edge or center of the “X” of a paper target if practicing on the range). When the handgun comes into battery (out in front and pointed toward the target) is when the mind should have conditioned the trigger finger to pull, pull, pull. Making sure of a sight picture or “indexing” in CQC scenarios is just wasting time – time that might mean the difference ‘tween your life or his’en. The significant difference between true instinct shooting and “indexing” is the focus is on the target – 100%. If the shooter is trying to consciously or even subconsciously line up a sight picture or even the barrel/slide of the firearm then time is being wasted.

Non-sighted Fire Concept

INSTINCT: A natural aptitude, impulse or capacity. An instinctive reaction is a natural tendency to act rapidly and with precision without any forethought or conscious planning. Instincts can be inborn reactions and they can also be trained or learned reactions. Instinct Shooting is the action that follows the realization or mental message within the brain that tells you a shot must be fired at a target. The follow-on action requires the weapon to be brought to a firing position and operated as many times as is needed without ever removing your eyes from the target. This is one of the keys to instinctive shooting. Not only do the eyes have to see the target, but they must focus on the smallest, most centralized part of this target such as the left edge of a clay bird or the spot on the perp’s shirt.

Instinct Combat Shooting: The act of operating a HANDGUN during close quarter combat conditions by focusing on the target, as opposed to the sights, and instinctively coordinating the hand and mind to cause the HANDGUN to discharge at a time and point that ensures interception of the projectile with the target. Think: basketball, baseball, football … training is required to proficiently score while moving, but unconscious thought co-ordinates the hand and eye to act instinctively. If the eyes are the first component of the technique, the handgun stocks are the second part. When retrieving the firearm from the holster, the hand must acquire the same hold each time – the fingers must grip the stocks in the same place each time. If the firearm (be it rifle, shotgun or handgun) is held the same at battery the shot will go to the same place with each shot. Dry-firing by bringing the gun to battery and then looking at the sight alignment will tell if the hand and stocks are mated. Instinct Combat Shooting is not a panacea – a handgun tactic that will cover all combat conditions. The author is not in any way suggesting or advocating its use for long range shooting with a handgun. It is, however, championed as the fastest and best method for distances from contact out to about seven yards.

The instant the handgun reaches battery - arrives at terminus of extension - is when the mind and eyes have determined that a discharged projectile will strike the point of visual concentration.

During Instinct Combat Shooting circumstances, the discharge occurs when the firearm comes to a stop against the non-shooting hand, or as in single handed control, at the limit of its forward travel. It is at this point and not an instant sooner or later, that the officer should be trained to instinctively fire a shot - if he or she has already made the decision to shoot. Further, if the eyes are focused at arm’s length, all else will be out of focus and not discernable - such as the perp dropping the weapon [surrendering, showing empty hands]. "Point shooting is only employed in situations when there is no time to acquire sight alignment and sight picture." (7)

Instinct Combat Shooting has its attributes and its negatives - just like any other discipline.


On the negative side:
1) It is not of great value at distances beyond seven yards.

2) It is of little value if the shooter and the firearm are not mated to each other.

On the positive side:
1) It is the fastest method for Close-quarter Combat situations.

2) It is - and this is probably the most significant point - most likely being used by most LEOs now. This doesn't mean they are doing it correctly or that the hand and stocks are congruent. Of course, if they are already shooting instinctively now, it might be a good idea to understand the tenets involved and hone this skill. Those practiced in the techniques of ICS will find that under extreme conditions such as the draw-on-the-drop, accurate fire can be achieved even before the firearm reaches battery. This is possible because ICS trained LEOs will be focused on the target and does not slow the commencement of the firing cycle (moving the handgun from the holster to battery) by seeking some form of a “sight picture”. Instinct Combat Shooting is not a one-size-fits-all tactic for all shooting conditions. It is a tool, perhaps the best tool, for close encounters of the heart-stopping kind, both literally and figuratively.


1) At police academies and during in-service training instruct LEOs in the aspects of Instinct Combat Shooting for close-quarter combat conditions.

2) NACOP, in conjunction with one of the major firearm training facilities, might propose aerial competition for shooting moving targets, including aerial objects such as clay birds using shot cartridges in handguns (safety-wise, handgun shot has a very limited range). Firearm and ammunition manufactures might be interested in sponsoring this new tactic that could become a life-saving endeavor as well as a new sport.


Development of a Future Cops of America extracurricular course for senior high school students would be a valuable source for staffing police ranks with those who have already been pre-screened. Such recruiting of career-oriented men and women will promote citizenship and lead to other public service endeavors or as a possible step to additional occupations. Long term goals might include becoming a police academy instructor, prosecuting attorney and/or private-sector security specialist.

Teaching recruits to follow their instinct by utilizing the Instinct Combat Shooting technique of always looking at the threat not only assures safety for all, but under CQC conditions it allows for optimal hits. If on the move or exchanging fire with a target that is moving … success is nearly impossible by relying on aimed fire.

About the Author: Chuck Klein is a former police officer, licensed Private Investigator (ret.), active member of International Association of Law Enforcement Firearms Instructors (IALEFI), former Level 6 firearms instructor for Tactical Defense Institute (, author of: INSTINCT COMBAT SHOOTING, Defensive Handgunning for Police; LINES OF DEFENSE, Police Ideology and the Constitution; POLICE (definition portion of Encyclopedia of Science, Technology and Ethics, Macmillan Reference USA, an imprint of Thompson Gale ISBN 0-02-865991-0). Information about his books and e-mail contact is available on his web site:

(1) Inspired by the songs: High Noon, 16 Tons, The Impossible Dream, Theme from Giant.Return

(2) FFA is an intra-curricular student organization for those interested in agriculture and leadership. FFA Leadership Return

(3) The Boy Scouts of America did not respond to a query from this writer. Return

(4) Hitler Youth organization was set up by Adolf Hitler in 1933 for educating and training male youth in Nazi principles [politics]. It evolved into a state agency that all young “Aryan” Germans were expected to join as a forerunner to becoming members of the Nazi party and part of the military machine. Hitler Youth Return

(5) A generation or two ago, I published a short booklet promoting the concept of shooting instinctively - with a handgun - not utilizing fixed, laser or any other type of mechanical or optical sights. In other words, visually selecting and looking ONLY at the target. Though I didn't invent the method I defined and explained how to do it. The subject book, INSTINCT COMBAT SHOOTING, Defensive Handgunning for Police, 4th edition, has been in continuous print for over 35 years and is becoming relevant to a new generation of law enforcers. Instinct Combat Shooting Return

(6) During lethal force Concealed Return

(7) Evan Marshall, May 1998, American Guardian Return