Greg M. writes:
“I recently started receiving your training e-mails and they are full of great self-defense information. I am going to pass them on to my training staff for their input.
Now the question: I clearly see the use for your methods when that ‘oh shit’ moment comes. Most regular citizens can come to that point very fast if confronted on the street. I, however, am a Police Officer in Georgia. Like cops everywhere, I know that critical moment can come at almost any time I am in uniform (or at work at all). I am trained to use ‘only that force necessary to stop the assault/control the suspect.’ It seems there is a SEVERELY thin line between TFT and necessary force. If you make the wrong decision, you could be in prison or in a box. The fact is that lots of people that may attack cops are not trying to kill them. Perhaps I am over thinking things, but reacting with the mindset of striking with the intent of doing maximum harm could be devastating to my life. I also understand that making the choice not to do so may end up with a call to my wife from the Chief.
I know that I am not the only one that has these thoughts. I have seen videos of cops getting executed because they were afraid of excessive force complaints.
Your comments would be appreciated.”
The issue here is understanding where TFT slots, as another tool at your disposal as a law enforcement professional, into the force continuum. As you well know, as you move up through that force continuum and escalate the use of force, you have many different tools at your disposal: defensive tactics for physical control and subdual, pepper spray, taser, baton and up to the last in line, the firearm.
What we end up with are many tools and options for a nonlethal response, but only one — the firearm — for lethal action.
On the one hand, this works just fine. If things are that dire, that serious, it’s the go-to tool. On the other hand, it may not be available, or difficult to deploy, and as a device it can malfunction or be taken away.
TFT, as empty-hand lethal force, is the ultimate backup to that firearm. That’s were it slots into the force continuum — at the extreme top end. It’s purely an officer survival and officer self-defense tool, appropriate for when you would deploy your firearm and shoot to kill but find that you can’t.
If you think of the projection of lethal force with a firearm as a cone that radiates from the barrel of the gun, what TFT does is slide that cone back to envelop you in a three-foot radius circle. Now your lethal force ability doesn’t just point in one direction, but anywhere you can reach with your bare hands and boots. This gives you two lethal force options, one at range and one at close quarters.
A common area of confusion lies in assuming that anything with “punching and kicking” is the same as “fighting” and is, in general, non-lethal. Though TFT and self-defense fighting look similar in action, the difference is in targeting. A non-specific punch is going to have a non-specific effect; a targeted punch that crushes the throat is another story entirely.
TFT is the other lethal force option. It’s the one that is always with you, never runs out of ammo and can’t be taken away. It is only appropriate for officer survival in situations where you would be allowed to shoot to kill but find that option denied you.