21 Foot Rule in Law Enforcement

Buchanan was an appeal against the summary judgment of a lower court based on qualified immunity for public servants. Readers familiar with qualified immunity understand that the rule protects public servants from civil liability for official conduct. To protect officers who have to make multiple judgments every day, the law makes it difficult to win a lawsuit against the police. Over the years, Lieutenant Tueller found that an average person could cover 21 feet in about 1.5 seconds, which was also about the time it took an officer to shoot and fire his side gun. When this information was disseminated in law enforcement, the idea of this “tie” at running speed and the train led to 21 feet being interpreted as safe enough for an officer to shoot and fire his weapon before an attacking suspect could hit him with a sharp weapon. Is it true that you “don`t bring a knife to a shooting”? Have you ever practiced “Tueller exercises” or discussed the “21-foot rule” on firearms or the use of strength training when people bring knives? These three phases completed the review of the 21-foot rule. The average train and fire crew speeds of 1.42 seconds under load are slightly faster than the average walking speed of 1.5 seconds. Converting this time difference to distance means that the suspect is only 13.4 inches away from the officer when he fires his first shot on average. It`s 13.4 inches from chest to chest, not with a stretched gun. This short distance also shows how the accuracy of agents is influenced when they are stressed. Takeaways from a multi-phase study that put the 21-foot rule to the test Overall, the 21-foot rule causes confusion, with some mistakenly viewing it as something to be strictly adhered to. In reality, there is no established distance at which an officer or person is safe and unique on a case-by-case basis.

Weapon bearers should never use the concept to shoot a person who is not otherwise threatening simply because they are within that invisible radius of three meters. A more complete explanation of this study can be found in the study by Sandel et al. (2020) entitled A scientific examination of the 21-foot rule. Shrewsberry and other proponents of police training reform have argued that the rule is too simple to be effective for today`s officers. A group of researchers conducted a scientific study on the 21-foot rule, published in 2020 in the journal Police Practice and Research. The researchers — William Sandel, M. Hunter Martaindale and J. Pete Blair — wrote that police need more space after a series of tests in a lab and that “the term `safe distance` has allowed the 21-foot rule to become a standard in the field, but it puts officers at risk.” Gill said tactics taught to police, such as the 21-foot rule, may be at the root of this fear, but that fear must always be based on the “underlying facts and the whole circumstances of that particular situation.” Although several studies have tested the 21-foot rule and found it inadequate, none have taken a truly scientific approach. Fortunately, the majority of the judges in Buchanan disagreed with solitary dissent, explicitly noting: “The 21-foot rule provides that a person at a distance of 21 feet or less may pose a threat to the safety of an officer. It does not follow from this or any other rule that armed suspects never pose a threat beyond 21 feet.

By this finding, the Buchanan Court upheld the lower court`s grant of summary judgment on behalf of the officials. But if you`re careful, they`ve done more than that. Major Scott Stephenson, director of the POST, said the 21-foot rule is not officially in the curriculum, but added that he was not surprised that it was always mentioned by his coaches. “I`ve heard coaches use this bastard term `21-foot rule` to say that if you shoot someone from more than 21 feet away, you could be charged with murder,” Tueller said in the YouTube video. “Or someone within 21 feet, you`re allowed to shoot.” Shoot and show the gun. Obviously, you have the right to draw and show your side arm. Do not hesitate. Depending on the nature of the 21-foot rule, you run the risk of not being able to react in time if the attacker suddenly goes on the attack.

The value of Tueller`s research is that action always trumps answer, and an attacker can attack from a greater distance than previously thought possible before you have enough time to pull your weapon out of the holster, hit the target, and fire precise shots in time to stop the threat. Shooting and pointing a firearm is also a show of force that can prevent the perpetrator from wanting to complete the act and run the risk of being shot. So how close is it? The 21-foot rule is essentially an interpretation of the threat assessment. Is there a weapon? The 21-foot rule is not relevant or activated without the known or suspected presence of a lethal weapon, which is generally considered an on-board or contact weapon sufficient to cause death or serious bodily injury. Are there any intentions? The officer must believe that the subject intends to attack a person with this weapon. Is there a delivery system? Does the official consider that distance, position or other factors give the subject a legitimate and imminent opportunity to exert harmful effects of that weapon on the intended victim? So if you ever hear about the 21-foot rule, you`ll now know that it`s only a small part of the comprehensive and intelligent defense readiness that has evolved and improved over the past forty years. Several studies have been published that define the reactionary gap for knife attacks as being greater than 21 feet. In a test conducted by the popular TV show MythBusters, the team found that the shooter could barely fire a single shot at 20 feet before being overwhelmed by the attacker, while another analysis showed that the officers were severely disadvantaged at just over 21 feet. So without a widely accepted distance, why does the 21-foot rule remain popular? The 21-foot rule attempts to define how far an attacker armed with a knife travels during the time it takes a person to detect a threat, fire a gun, and fire two shots at that attacker. Its purpose is to improve situational awareness and reinforce the idea of a quick and always ready engagement of a dangerous suspect.

The 21-foot rule has been a topic of conversation in law enforcement since the 1980s, when Lt. Dennis Tueller of the Salt Lake City Police Department developed a training exercise for his colleagues. Wexler said police officers should instead learn to slow things down and create distance and try to talk to an armed person to defuse a meeting before it becomes a confrontation. An officer should try to take cover, he said, instead of following an arbitrary rule that says he can shoot if someone is at a certain distance with a knife. Under the 21-foot rule, an officer or person with a firearm has about 1.5 seconds before an attacker reaches it from 21 feet. But is this rule, the result of a short study published in 1983, still relevant to current standards of defense against firearms? False. The 21-foot rule was never meant to become a fixed rule of conduct. Exercises performed without a better understanding of the context behind it or without knowing more about the performance of the human body in a life-threatening situation can lead officers to believe that there is only one solution to any confrontation of lethal power.

There are a number of factors that play a role here – so, let`s answer the question, is the 21-foot rule still relevant? Chuck Wexler, Executive Director of the National Research Forum on Not-for-Profit Policing Executives, helps advise police services on best practices. He said his organization began recommending that departments remove the 21-foot rule from their training in 2016. He said he had a headwind at first — “old habits die hard,” he said — but in recent years, more and more agencies have joined him. Life is not a Hollywood movie. There is no fair fight, and the attackers do not politely go around in circles. Gang members don`t wear sharp screwdrivers to set tiny little carburetors for their grandmothers. There are no fixed rules in life for every situation. Officers are people who do the best job possible based on the circumstances they face and the training they have received.

The 21-foot rule has been cited directly by lawyers or police to justify shootings in five cases in Utah over the past 16 years, according to a Salt Lake Tribune database expanded with help from FRONTLINE. In two other cases, the principles of the rule were mentioned — such as indicating that a person`s distance was within 21 feet — although it was not mentioned directly by name. The myth of the 21-foot rule Sgt. Tueller opened many eyes to action versus reaction and helped revolutionize police training, but his studies may have been misinterpreted to justify shooting an attacker from a certain distance. The 21-foot rule has become part of police culture and has been widely used at law enforcement seminars in the United States, but to our knowledge, it has never been recognized by a court in Canada. Other studies in Canada have even suggested that the action/response gap may be greater than 21 feet. Allred said he was referring to the 21-foot rule because it explained why officers were concerned about their safety because of the distance between them and the man with a knife. “I would say nowhere in the United States could you find a police officer who isn`t aware of the 21-foot rule,” said Randy Shrewsberry, executive director of the Institute for Criminal Justice Training Reform.

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