Welcome to "Ask CCPD" #1! We got lots of great questions! Our inaugural question comes from one of our Facebook followers:
"Why do police officers shoot to kill? Why don't you shoot bad guys in the arms or legs?"
Officers can only use deadly force in specific circumstances. Florida State Statute 776.06 allows an officer to use deadly force when faced with deadly force. Deadly force is any force that could result in death or great bodily harm (to the officer or to another person).
When an officer uses his/her firearm in this case, he/she is shooting to stop the threat, not necessarily to kill though obviously that is sometimes tragically the result. Human beings faced with enormous stress such as the threat of death undergo physiological changes: loss of fine motor skills, tunnel vision, auditory exclusion (basically temporary hearing loss), all as a result of the body's "fight or flight" survival response.
Officers are trained to shoot center mass (the torso) because it has the lowest chance of missing the target. Drawing quickly and shooting a "bad guy" in an arm or leg is extremely difficult to do under enormous stress. It's also very possible to continue fighting or causing violence after suffering a wound to an arm or a leg. They may get away with it in Hollywood, but in reality this would possibly get us or the people we're trying to protect killed.
Immediately after an incident like this, once the threat is stopped, officers render first aid and call for emergency medical services. This may sound contradictory, but it's because we don't "shoot to kill", but to stop the threat. Additionally, using other tools (Tasers, pepper spray, batons, hands-on) is just not adequate to stop a deadly threat.
A deadly force encounter has tragic consequences, and it changes everyone involved, offenders and officers alike. Officers are highly trained not only in the "how" of deadly force, but the "when" as well.
Thank you to everyone for the excellent questions this week, and keep them coming! You can submit your questions by visiting the Ask CCPD section of our website. See you next week!
About the Author:
Corporal Philip Mullen is a nine year law enforcement veteran assigned to the Office of the Chief of Police and serves as Assistant Public Affairs Officer for the Cape Coral Police Department.
For the last 9 years, Corporal Mullen served as a Patrol Officer in our Patrol Bureau, and as a Field Training Officer, preparing new recruits for the rigors of police work over the past 5 years. Corporal Mullen is a member of the Cape Coral Police Department Honor Guard and has represented the Cape Coral Police Department across the United States. He is a recipient of two Lifesaving Awards and the department's highest honor, the Medal of Honor. Phil holds a Bachelor's Degree in Public Safety Administration from Edison State College.