In 2004, my boss at the time asked me to write a class on the content of and compliance with the new Law Enforcement Officers Safety Act (LEOSA, AKA HR218).

My first intent was to write mostly a law and street survival tactics class, but my chief wanted a live shoot portion. So I set up a scenario with a staggered field of mixed good guys and bad guys (ratio 4:1). If you look carefully, you can see the two “bad guys” to the left of the figures. The “bad guys” are black and white. Good guys are color.

The scene is to represent a shopping center parking lot; two bad guys who have just robbed a store come out, head into the parking lot to commandeer a vehicle. Each student is sequentially positioned some 25 yards from the rear berm of the range, given a grocery bag to carry (something to fill his hands), and told to walk back and forth, perpendicular to the range.

On signal (we fire LOUD rifle shots into the air), the exercise commences. The exercise is to

(1) move to cover , (2) find a firing position from which to (3) engage bad guy #1 until he “falls.” A shooter has just taken down the first bad guy and is preparing to engage #2.

(I’m the fellow with “Trooper” on his back.) Then, approach #1, check to see that he’s down, recover his weapon, and move to new cover to prep for engaging #2. Then, the same routine with bad guy #2 … who’s a bit farther down range.

This has turned out to be by far the most exciting and rewarding part of the class. The wild buffoonery I’ve seen defies description! Put the average cop in a street scenario and he loses his mind. Examples:

1) Leaving cover without first reloading.
2) Leaving cover with an unloaded gun.
3) Forgetting that bullets will pass through someone and hit/kill people
behind the intended target.
4) “Spray-and-pray” and hitting/killing more innocents than bad guys.
5) Diving UNDER a pick-up truck for “cover.” ((In fact, one guy positioned
himself right under the gas tank.))
6) Stripping out a partial magazine, then leaving it behind.
7) Leaving a wounded perp’s position without disarming him.

Related to #4 above, my bad guys are reactive targets; they fall if a 6″x6″ center steel diamond is hit. Thus a shooter can complete the course in about 10 seconds and two shots. However, some Glock folks will empty 3 magazines and still get no good center hits.

Things usually improve after a cycle or two. But the first round is most often a circus. And these bad guys aren’t even shooting back!

BIO of author

John C. Tate was born in Charlotte NC, enlisted in the US Navy Naval Security Group and advanced from E-1 to E-7, CTRC-select. After earning a degree in Mathematics, he was commissioned Ensign (Intelligence), went on to earn MS in Computing Systems, NavPG School, Monterey CA and retired O-5.

His Sea Duty included USS Mount Whitney (LCC 20), USS Saratoga (CV 60), USS John King (DDG 3), USS Mahan (DDG 72), USS Deyo (DD 989), USS America (CV 66) and USS CARL VINSON (CVN 70)
Overseas shore: Philippines; Guantanamo; Pearl Harbor; & Panamá

In the early 80’s, Tate began studying and teaching several areas of international law: the law of the sea, of asylum, of armed conflict, etc. After retiring from the Navy, he has continued his study of the law of wrongs and criminal procedure.

During his last 3½ years in the Navy, Tate served in South America as part of our counterdrug efforts. One of his primary duties was force security for all services, especially Special Forces personnel.

From 1977 until he retired Tate was a Navy firearms instructor, and also served as such for the Army in 1991 – 1992. From 1985 until he retired, Tate was on the Navy Rifle team; he served as captain of the U.S. Navy rifle team.

In 1987 he was the sniping coach for SWAT Team B of the Virginia Beach PD. In 2000 he earned Distinguished Weapons Expert certification at FLETC’s firearms instructor program.

Tate joined the Mounted Patrol in 1997 and retired in 2011. He has held salaried and pro bono, LE commissions from the Lincoln and Socorro County Sheriffs; the towns of Carrizozo Columbus, Jemez Springs and Vaughn; and the 12th Judicial District Attorney as an investigator. He is a NM DPS LEA certified instructor in a number of LE disciplines including general police, criminal and civil law, firearms (pistol/shotgun/rifle), RADAR, photography, and crime prevention.

Besides routine traffic citations, he has been the arresting officer and lead investigator in successful cases involving several felonies: aggravated fleeing a law enforcement officer, attempted criminal sexual penetration of a minor, child abuse, aggravated burglary, aggravated battery and government corruption (white collar) crimes.

Tate is currently: a commissioned deputy sheriff for Socorro County; Captain/training officer for the New Mexico Rangers; and the NM DHS intelligence liaison officer for Lincoln, Socorro and Sierra Counties.

Note, the FLETC “Distinguished Weapons Expert” isn’t the same as the Distinguished Program (Distinguished Rifleman and Distinguished Pistol Shot) from the Civilian Marksmanship Program.

Those who go to the FLETC firearms instructor class and shoot well with pistol, rifle and shotgun (97% or above with each) earn DWE. Less than 10% usually do so. For reference, Tate has also earned a gold, two silvers and a bronze in EIC competition.