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Badge placement effects survival

Discussion in 'Cop Talk' started by Sam Spade, Oct 28, 2012.

  1. Sam Spade

    Sam Spade Staff Member Lifetime Member

    May 4, 2003
    From FSRC:

    I. Badge placement affects survival odds for plainclothes cops

    When officers who've just finished a shooting exercise gather around and an instructor holds up a "no-shoot" target that looks like it's been riddled by machine gun fire, that's a sobering moment.

    Especially when the officers now see that the target sports a badge.

    Some flat out deny they fired any mistaken rounds. But after running hundreds of officers through decision-making exercises in which at least one sudden target represents an out-of-uniform cop with a badge openly displayed, Sgt. Ward Smith knows the disturbing truth: Without awareness training, the average in-service officer will fire on the "friendly" form before realizing it's a fellow LEO.

    Smith, supervisor of the Kansas City (MO) PD's firearms training section and a certified Force Science Analyst, has completed a two-year study of this phenomenon that's highly relevant for off-duty, undercover, and other plainclothes officers who become involved in a hot crime scene while armed--as well as for uniformed personnel who respond to such scenarios.

    "When you're in street clothes with your gun out in an enforcement situation," Smith concludes from his findings, "where you place your badge--at your beltline or hanging from your neck--may directly affect your chances of surviving when you're confronted by a responding officer who does not personally recognize you."

    Research results: A center-mass display is safer.

    More in their newsletter. Cops should all subscribe.
  2. Great reminder. When I'm responding in uniform, and the gun/deadly threat still exists, the upper torso is what I'm aiming for. When tunnel vision kicks in, I'll probably not see (or stop seeing) anything hanging off the belt.
    Last edited: Oct 28, 2012

  3. OFCJIM40

    OFCJIM40 Happy Jaeger

    Jan 22, 2001
    Chicago-area, IL.
    Maybe I'm wrong, but I tend to dismiss this as being real data being gathered when we are talking about a prop hanging off of a paper target being a real indicator. I would give more credence to this if it involved sim guns with live people. A paper target doesn't respond, talk back or interact with the shooter. In a real life on the street shoot/don't shoot scenario, we will be processing 10's if not 100's of indicators and stimuli from the people we are involved with to determine friend/foe, threat/no threat. Taping a badge image to a generic paper target, IMO, hardly represents real life decision making.

    So did Sgt. Smith have another group, that wasn't aware like the first group, have targets that this time had the badge hung center mass? Was there now less holes in the target? If you claim A (belt badge) isn't effective, you can't just claim automatically B (center badge) is more effective without testing it. If you want to make a scientific statement, you must run this like a scientific study. You need two groups A and B who are equally unaware of the study or the objective and run them both through. If both A and B have the same number of holes your theory goes right out the window or you have a fatal flaw in the true assessment of the study.

    Basically, if you don't know how to run a study that will produce true statistical results, don't claim you have an answer when you don't. So is it this article is that poorly written and the results aren't given? If he is a "Force Science Analyst" I would hope he knows how to run a study. So I'm thinking this is just a crappy summary article. I looked on their website and couldn't find the article. You have a direct link to it by chance?
    Last edited: Oct 28, 2012
  4. fastbolt


    Jun 9, 2002
    CA Central Coast
    I've seen fair number of No-Shoot targets riddled with holes where the pictured UC "cop" was holding a badge up in front of his chest in his extended hand. Shiny. Got shot.

    The sad part is that I've seen cops of all lengths of service make that same mistake ... and others of the same variable lengths of service catch themselves (flinching, but stopping short of pressing the trigger) and not fire on the No-Shoot target.

    People get rattled under stress and start not seeing & hearing things.
  5. My father always wore his badge in the middle of his vest, his thinking was if someone had something to focus on they would aim there, which is where the trauma plate is thus a lesser chance of injury.
  6. ejes


    Mar 29, 2009
    I have a copy of the study memo PDF attached for anyone interested.

    Attached Files:

    Last edited: Oct 28, 2012
  7. The "Badge Study" passes my common sense test.

    Unfortnitely, there's no scientific method to prevent ALL blue-on-blue shootings. The best one can do is prevent as many as possible.

    There's even one school of thought that the plain clothes LEO should be wearing their badges on their back, so the approaching LEOs can see it.
  8. OFCJIM40

    OFCJIM40 Happy Jaeger

    Jan 22, 2001
    Chicago-area, IL.
    Ok, the memo reads much better than the article. I agree with the points made of being more aware, scanning the target better, etc. simple put, there are still too many variables in real life to call this conclusive, but, what the training attempted to achieve it did, and that is very good. We know in real life things can get very dynamic and chaotic fast, and I real life, there is more to shoot/don't shoot than just seeing a badge. But I do see what this training was trying to achieve and I do believe it was very good.
  9. Butcher

    Butcher NRA Life Member

    Mar 3, 2005
    Our department mandated that all plainclothes units wear tactical vests with "POLICE" boldly across the back and front, and our badges have to be prominently displayed on the front. We had a blue on blue fatal shooting that prompted this change

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  10. OFCJIM40

    OFCJIM40 Happy Jaeger

    Jan 22, 2001
    Chicago-area, IL.
    Same thing our Tac does unless they are working something deeper cover. If their is more of a UC operation taking place, and if there's outside PD's assisting, we are informed of their general location for safety.
  11. DaBigBR

    DaBigBR No Infidels!

    Oct 28, 2005
    Circling the wagons.
    I agree completely.
  12. Hack

    Hack Crazy CO Gold Member

    Force Science is a good thing to look at. I do agree on the center mass positioning.
  13. steveksux

    steveksux Massive Member

    Jul 12, 2007
    Makes sense, but I would think there's a big difference between wearing it on neck chain in middle of chest, and holding shiny badge in hand thrusting it forward to show the approaching officers... could easily be mistaken for a weapon in hand if things are happening quickly. Shiny+hand=bad.

  14. OFCJIM40

    OFCJIM40 Happy Jaeger

    Jan 22, 2001
    Chicago-area, IL.
    Again, this is all paper target association though. This is the range effect. The best way to probably study this would be role playing and possibly with sim guns with coppers from other PD's where all faces aren't known. I still have a hard time believing and correlating that what happens on a static piece of paper with a badge prop on it with the yes/no of shoot/don't shoot really translates into real life.

  15. Absolutely agree that more "real life" study can/should be done. Role play with hanging a badge on a chain at chest level vs wearing it on their belt. Alternate that with wearing, say, a cell phone on the belt at the same place. And also alternate a cell phone or something non-LE-badge, such as a "CCW badge," that some BG could wear on a chain, across the chest area, to get a momentary advantage.
    Last edited: Oct 28, 2012
  16. Sam Spade

    Sam Spade Staff Member Lifetime Member

    May 4, 2003
    Read ODMP. This isn't a theoretical problem, or something created on the range.
  17. Clearly this is NOT a theoretical problem. But maybe through role playing, we can (or maybe cannot) arrive at a "best industry practice." That is, balancing officer safety (paramount) vs. BGs gaining the momentary advantage.
    Last edited: Oct 28, 2012
  18. S.O.Interceptor

    S.O.Interceptor Khem-Adam

    Dec 13, 2004
    The Rock of Eternity
    We are required to wear our badges around our necks, in our left breast pocket, or pinned to our chest, at all time when in plain clothes. There is no belt carry for us, ever.
  19. Sam Spade

    Sam Spade Staff Member Lifetime Member

    May 4, 2003
    Is this a requirement when off duty, or just for plainclothes operations?
  20. DustyJacket

    DustyJacket Directiv 10-289

    Oct 16, 2008
    Missouri, East of KC
    My first shoot/don't shoot (range) experience ended up with me putting a round through the center of a handheld badge.

    Of course, his other hand held a gun pointed at me, so it is arguable whether I screwed up.

    Hint, if uniforms show up, point the weapon at the floor, or holster is before they get too close.
    Last edited: Oct 28, 2012