If you nd yourself in a fair ght, you didn’t plan your mission
Col. David H. Hackworth
U.S. Army (Retd.)
The use of police ofcers in a direct protective role is a logical use of a
resource by a law enforcement agency. Departments have the authority to
allocate resources, such as manpower, vehicles, and equipment, to accom-
plish the mission. However, in protective operations, just being a trained
police ofcer will most likely not be sufcient if a detail is ever attacked.
Protective units, just like narco/intelligence units and SWAT teams, need
specialized equipment and training. This even applies to SWAT teams
that are periodically tasked with a protective function, as the nature of
the mission is drastically different from their traditional role.
The issue of weapons often can be a hot button topic for a department
or security company when discussing the needs, uses, expense, etc., and
coupled with real or imagined liability. It is the author’s opinion that when
law enforcement-provided protection is brought into the equation, it is
because someone’s life is believed to be in immediate danger, not because
someone lost his or her temper or felt hurt. To counter a legitimate threat,
ofcers should have at their disposal a variety of tools, that is, weapons,
to accomplish their mission in the safest way. At a minimum, an ofcer
assigned to a protective detail will be armed with a handgun, preferably
a pistol with several magazines.
In the vast majority of operations, a handgun will sufce, augmented
by a small ashlight tted with a strike cap and perhaps pepper spray.
There will, however, be those occasions, due to the nature of the known or
perceived threat, when additional repower will be called for. This gener-
ally means either submachine guns and assault-type ries, although shot-
guns also have their uses.
Since the 1950s, there have been four targeted attacks in the United
States that are “known” to have employed automatic weapons (assault ries
or submachine guns). Worldwide, that number increases to 133; however,
it is most probably substantially higher. Further, in North America, mostly
due to the extreme violence in Mexico as a result of the drug cartels, the
use of automatic weapons is on the rise.
Even in the urban streets of the
United States, it is not uncommon to recover a Tech 9 auto pistol, a weapon
capable of accepting a 50-round magazine with a rate of re approach-
ing 1000 rounds per minute. Even more disturbing is the increasing trend
of police ofcers seizing SKS- and AK-47-type weapons following arrests
and during the execution of search warrants.
While the clothes for the team will change depending on the type of pro-
tectee (i.e., criminal informant, judge, agency head), the basic equipment
and how it is worn should be standardized. (However, given the type of
operation and the ofcer’s position in the detail, this may need to be modi-
ed.) Body armor, weapon, ammunition, a ashlight, and a small trauma
kit should be the minimum basic equipment. A phrase the author has
often heard spoken from former U.S. Marines goes something like this:
“Two is one, and one is none.” The reference is to the need for redundancy
in equipment supplies to account for Murphy’s law. To ensure this, take a
look at with what a protective detail goes operational. Is there anything
that is mission critical, but you have only one? If so, determine how to
double up on that identied need.
Depending on the department’s policy, this weapon either is issued or, in
some departments, the individual can make a selection, albeit from a spe-
cic caliber and manufacture. Without getting into the debate on superior