The LESC Newsletter People, Ideas and Hardware in That Order: Violent Encounters: When the Time for Talk is Over #9 | Law Enforcement & Security Consulting

Creating Awareness, Situational Understanding and Decision Making for Those Who protect and Serve!

Violent Encounters: When the Time for Talk is Over, Do What’s Necessary and Reasonable

On this blog we talk all the time about detecting, avoiding and preventing conflict and violence through awareness, positioning, communication, interaction, recognizing the signs and signals of crime and danger, collaborative efforts and timely decision making under pressure. The main focus of our strategy and our methods being to win, and to settle conflict and violence without fighting.

But what happens when the time for talk is over and you have encountered that rare person who is intent on killing or seriously injuring you or someone else? The decision making cycle, observation, orientation, decision and action, is key in these type of circumstances and is the crux of survival and winning the rare deadly force encounter. Observation of dangerous and deadly circumstances means that risk is high and time is scarce. Decisions must be made intuitively based on the sum of our experiences. These experiences in law enforcement may or may not include past encounters of this dangerous dynamic. What’s imperative is to act based on what we decide is going on.

Real Life Scenario

For an example, let’s take a look at the news and talk about the recent Massachusetts General Hospital shooting. An off-duty security guard or special police officer is in the hospital for a checkup. He is in the elevator and as the door opens he hears screams and a verbal statement to the effect of “he is going to kill us” while observing people running towards the stairs and elevator. The off duty officer is a prepared individual who possesses a firearm he carries while off duty. He draws his weapon and goes towards the unknown. He observes a man standing over a person on the floor. He believes the man is punching the subject he is on top of and that it is a physical altercation between two people… until he observes the arm coming up is holding a knife. He identifies himself, and immediately orders the knife-wielding subject to “drop the knife!”. The subject looks through the officer, in what we describe in our business the “thousand yards stare” a sign that something bad is about to happen, and it does. The knife wielding subject gets up and attempts to attack the officer who fires and hits the subject. The subject drops to the ground, only to get back up holding the knife to try again. He is quickly stopped by the officer who fires until he believes the threat is over.

Decision Making Loop

This officer’s adrenalin is pumping through his body and his decision making is intuitive based on the deadly circumstances unfolding in front of him. His mind has experienced the horror of not only witnessing and attempted murder and aggravated assault, but an attack on himself as well. The circumstances of walking into a hospital for a check up to the shock of the unpredictable attack can task anyone’s skills, including those trained in the art and science of conflict and violence.

This type of decision making is known as rapid cognition, recognized primed decision making, or thin slicing, and is based on our experiences, pattern recognition and our ability to adapt to changing conditions so we can effectively deal with them. In this case effectiveness meant stopping the threat and saving lives.

Conflict is described as time competitive Observation, Orientation, and Decision and Action cycles. The time competitive OODA Cycle means, one must accelerate their orientation and decision making in order to be successful in the world of conflict and violence. “The OODA Loop divides cognition into four processes, Observation (perception), Orientation (unconscious or implicit thought), conscious of explicit thought (Decision) and Action (behavior).”

The decision making model focuses on how we process information through our 6 senses (sight, sound, smell, taste and touch and intuition). A “turned on and tuned in” OODA Loop running smoothly and fluidly allows us to recognize patterns of behavior in conflict, orient quickly and effectively to the situation we are in, allowing us the ability to make rapid decisions and take appropriate actions to exploit any advantage that presents itself. In the scenario above this all happened in seconds in the midst of chaos and complexity and life threatening danger. Proof in my view we must seek to develop this ability to observe, orient, decide and act in rapidly changing conditions.


Most of the time we can walk, talk and position ourselves until our adversary gives in and cooperates, this is the best outcome for those who protect and serve. But sometimes people, and the dangerous and deadly circumstances they create, produce a climate so dangerous that death or serious bodily injuries is perceived by the victim and action taken in an effort to de-escalate and defend himself or others has a deadly outcome.

All the facts are not in on this case yet, but at first glance it looks as though situational awareness, preparation and good sound decision making under pressure in a deadly and rapidly unfolding set of circumstances was handled in a reasonable manner. This off duty officer should be commended for the lives he saved.

Stay Oriented!


Information and Intelligence

The articles, police, security, university and campus related news and related reports as well as the programs of instruction posted in this newsletter are believed by me to be of value to those who protect and serve and will keep the process of evolutionary learning and adaptability alive and well in our professions so we train to make a difference! A difference in how we, observe our surroundings and orient to the whole situation as it unfolds. In an effort to make good intuitive and explicit decisions based on time and risk that can be adapted and applied through various actions while enhancing officer safety and the safety of those we protect.

Please remember the newsletter is linked to the WWW.LESC.NET  the LESC blog, where we can discuss these issues and any other topic you would like to bring up. In the end learning, education and training are linked and it takes collaborative efforts by all to make the difference that is needed. Feel free to make comments positive or negative and bring up any topics you wish to be discussed.

Stay Oriented!




After Action reviews of LESC Training Programs

LESC Upcoming Workshops

The LESC programs of instruction utilize the method of experiential learning to build student experiences using the “recognition primed” decision making process. The program s of instruction consists of four primary pillars and includes the use of: (1) a case study learning method; (2) tactical decision games; (3) free play force on force exercises; and (4) feedback through the leader evaluation system.

The LESC programs of instruction unify the approaches above in accomplishing LESC learning objectives, which include:

  • Improving one’s ability to make decisions quickly and effectively;
  • Making sense of new situations, seeing patterns, and spotting opportunities and options that were not visible before;
  • Becoming more comfortable in a variety of situations;
  • Developing more advanced and ambitious tactics; and
  • Becoming more familiar with weapons capabilities, employment techniques, and other technical details.
  • Wednesday November 25th American Firearms School 9AM start Strategy and Tactics for Handling Dynamic Encounters, Holiday Special $75.00 dollars per person contact
    • Conflict and violence prevention
    • Strategic and tactical mindset
    • Deciding under pressure 
    • Tactical Positioning
    • Tactical Communication
    • Understanding the Signs and Signals of crime and danger “Body Language”
    • Scenarios enabling adaptability exercises

LESC will come to you to Present workshops contact Click here for more details on LESC Programs of Instruction and for testimonials

Quote to think about

¨This is war. It is the most important skill in the nation. It is the basis of life and death. It is the philosophy of survival or destruction. You must know it well.” ~Sun Tzu

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