A Simple Fix
An interesting comment:
- "Triangle of Death"
It has been speculated that the street gangs in California are training their members to shoot law enforcement officers at night by aiming for the highly visible patch of white t-shirt exposed above the top of officers’ vests and uniform shirts. Commander Michael Richards of the Mundelein Illinois Police Department decided to test the theory with an experiment.
Commander Richards took six officers from his department deemed as “average” shooters and ran them through a quick 18 round low light course. A 6 ft tall mannequin target wearing a blue uniformed shirt with a white sheet of paper behind it to replicate a white t-shirt was positioned approximately 10 feet from the firing line. The officers were to step to the left or right and draw and fire three rounds as fast as possible. The “t-shirt” was changed for each officer to track the hits.
More than 80% of the rounds shot by all of the officers hit in or immediately around the exposed t-shirt despite the fact the officers used in the experiment are trained to shoot center mass. It is believed that the officers overrode their training and focused their shots on what was most visible. All of the officers in the study confirmed after the end of the exercise that the patch of white had drawn their aim.
Research from the Force Science Research Center at Minnesota State University-Mankato has shown that people in stressful situations scan a scene quickly and grasp at little pieces of information. The process is automatic and almost instinctive. People will gravitate to a particular item that has caught their attention such as a body part, piece of clothing, or movement. In a shooting situation, people will shoot at what they can see; this is exacerbated in low light situations. Depending on the amount of time one has to process the situation, it is believed that shooters will shoot at whatever is most noticeable. With more time, a shooter will be able to draw conclusions from what he sees and use that information as a guide. For example, the contrast between an officer’s undershirt and uniform shirt will initially draw the focus of the shooter. With more time, he will be able to identify what he is looking at and use it as references to shoot below it. This concept is not limited to white undershirts, but also includes patches, badges, flashlights, and even skin tone.
Based on his experiment, Commander Richards now urges all of his officers to wear dark undershirts under their uniforms. This seems like a relatively easy uniform change that could have a significant impact on officer safety and in the most unfortunate of circumstances, save a life.
Gee, buy some darker colored T-shirts for a couple of bucks or make everyone who spent a few hundred non-refundable bucks on vest covers and embroidered patches eat the money.
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