There’s a video going around that shows a group of officers clearing a house, and on their way out of the house a dog escapes from its crate. As the officers are trying to get out of dodge, one of them ends up with a gun in his hand and cranks a round off into the back of another officer. Not good! After watching the video, here are a couple of thoughts: 

  1. Cops handle guns a lot more than most people, and point guns at people more often than most people. This sets us up for trouble because we tend to get comfortable with it. That means that while we’re searching a house or a yard, we feel pretty confident (i.e., complacent) that we are under control of that thing. Because we do it so often, we need to be more careful. 

  2. Weapon Mounted Lights: This wasn’t necessarily a factor in this particular incident, but generally speaking, cops searching houses with weapon mounted lights are likely to start using that thing more like a flashlight than a tool for target identification. This tendency sets us up poorly for the issue raised in point one, which is that comfort can lead to complacency. Use the light to look for threats, not other stuff. 

  3. Those safety rules really matter. This is something we have to be disciplined about because, since we get comfortable and complacent, it’s more important than ever to keep our gun pointed in a safe direction and our finger off the trigger until we have decided to fire. They are cardinal safety rules for a reason. 

  4. Regarding the safety rules and using our weapon lights as flashlights—one way I see cops (and yes, I have been guilty of this too) mishandle their firearm is by unnecessarily using their support hand to manipulate things like doorknobs or furniture. If we start with the assumption that someone hiding there might try to kill us, then having a second person manipulate it so that you can focus on target identification and shooting becomes that much more important. Other bad outcomes include shooting your own extremity or being too close to the person you’re going to encounter, which makes that tool in your hand far less advantageous. 

  5. Lastly, when the adrenaline hits, we lose 100 IQ points (give or take!). I’m sure that this officer didn’t purposely shoot his partner, but under the emotional response to a charging dog—he wasn’t thinking rationally. This is why good habits and proper training is so important—so you don’t have to think about it!
Mike Doyle

Mike Doyle


Mike is a full-time police officer and tactical medic. He currently works as a K9 handler, SWAT team member, and Police Trainer. Mike started Tactical Tangents as part of his fundamental purpose to save lives. His goal is to enhance the survival of police officers and concerned citizens by helping them become better, smarter, faster, and more efficient. His opinions are for informational purposes only and do not reflect those of his employer or any other government agency.



Jim did a deep-dive on active killers complete with some case studies, scenarios, and some thoughts on getting help. Be sure to check it out to learn more about how to deal with mass violence. 

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