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Old April 6, 2011, 03:48 PM   #1
roaddog28
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Newhall shootout in California

Its be 41 years since the shootout in which four California Highway Patrol officers lost their lives. Since then changes in tactics by CHP has been introduce much like the FBI Miami Shootout in 1986. I have a question to all of the current LE officers and Retired LE officers. One of the things CHP determined was the officers killed were carrying S&W model 28 loaded with 357 magnum ammo. But the failure of the officers to hit there suspects was one of the factors that resulted in their deaths. From what I understand the officers trained with 38 special ammo but carried 357 ammo for "business" I have heard this before with other agencies. My question is why not practice with the ammo that a officer is going to carry in the field? The difference in shooting 38 special versus 357 magnum ammo is a lot. Is it because the agencies were afraid of overpentration hurting innocent bystanders? Is it because of lack of training buy the agencies? Why did officers carry 357 magnum revolvers when they only practiced with 38 specials? To me if they were not going to use the 357 magnum then just carry a 38 specials like the old S&W model 10 or 15. In the FBI Miami shootout several agents carried model 13 357 magnum revolvers but used again 38 +Ps. Although the final report after the shooting indicated the failure of the 9mm Silvertip round as not powerful enough but the same thing could of been said about the 38+P round. A 357 magnum round or a better 9mm round used by the agents might have ended the gunfight sooner.
I would like some opinions by current or retired LE about why a law enforcement agencies would not let their officers or agents carry the best possible ammo in their service carry guns. For guys that did not carry revolvers this applies to you to. Did the agency train and supply you with the most effective ammo to do you job?

Regards.
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Old April 6, 2011, 06:46 PM   #2
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There were two factors involved:
The "game" in those days was bullseye, and qualification was on bullseye targets fired one handed. The preferred ammo for bullseye was wadcutters.
When I started in 1970, even the Treasury Dept qualified one handed on bullseye targets.

Then there was a cost savings, wadcutters being cheaper then the 158g RNL ""killing"" ammo - which we learned to call "STOP! Or I'll wrinkle your suit!" ammo.

We got in so few shootings in those days, they felt the cost savings were a good tradeoff. Who thought that? The bean counters, who never faced a bad guy.

One of the less known factors of Newhall was that the officers were found with empty brass in their pockets. They found the range officers required clean ranges, so in 'training' brass went into officer's pockets to be dropped into brass barrels, so the officers would not have to bend down.
They were told "on the street, you'll just drop your brass". Nope, they did as they had been trained.
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Old April 6, 2011, 08:28 PM   #3
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When I joined the U.S. Border Patrol in 1974, we were issued Ruger Security Six pistols in .357 Magnum. However, we qualified and trained with .38 wadcutters. Right before graduating from the Border Patrol Academy in Los Fresnos, Texas, we actually were handed 3 .357 Magnum 158 gr. SP bullets, just to let us know how much our pistols would recoil with the full-power duty loads. Man, did they kick!! Like the gentleman before this post said, all of our shooting was done with bulls-eye targets. We did regular shooting, rapid fire shooting, and timed shooting. A few years later, the Justice Dept. had us switch over to the Treasury load, which were 110 gr. HP +P ammo. We found they were essentially worthless, and many times they wouldn't even chip the paint on a car. The Border Patrol finally went to the .40S&W pistol when we were issued the Beretta 96D Brigadeer pistol. After that, all Agents qualified with the standard full-power 155 gr. HP. That still remains true today.
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Old April 6, 2011, 09:47 PM   #4
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First, I am not, nor have I ever been a LEO. I have, however, studied LE firearms training and tactics as it has progressed through the years. The above posts are spot on.

Bullseye target training at the range. I am sure a good many LEOs were killed over the years due to this type of training.

The Newhall CHP officers were killed with empty revolvers stuffing brass into thier pockets. This was quite common training practices back in the day. I like to think that those officers did not die in vain, as many LEOs (and others) have been saved due to the lessons learned.

As to the Miami FBI shootout: The Winchester 9mm silvertip was about as good a 9mm round as one could get back then. The final, fight stopping rounds fired that day were .38 Special LSWCHP +P (Now known as the "FBI load") fired by SA Edmundo Mireles from his personally owned 4" S&W 686.

Many agencies issued .357 revolvers and .38 ammo, either for training or both training and duty. The FBI issued the .357 M13 revolvers with .38 ammo. Agents could request magnum ammo for a particular assignment if they felt the need. If the supervisor agreed with the agent(s) they would be issued the magnum ammo.

Training with .38s and carrying .357s. That was almost always a budget issue.
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Old April 6, 2011, 10:23 PM   #5
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Weapons training, my take...

I'm not a current sworn LE officer but I'm aware of the Newhall CA event & brought up the topic in my 2008 armed security class.
The big issue that stuck with me(from noted author & use of force training expert Massad Ayoob) was how the deceased police officers were found with spent revolver cartridges in their uniform pockets.
Ayoob & other major LE instructors(correctly) pointed out why proper skill training & tactics are so important. Officers or other armed professionals should train using real world conditions & re-enforce the best methods to deal successfully with use of force or shooting events.

Clyde F
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Old April 6, 2011, 11:06 PM   #6
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The Miami shootout...

...was a "perfect storm" of poor armament and tactics, combined with two perps who were going to shoot it out, no matter what. The perps were outmanned 4-to-1, but still managed to kill two FBI agents and wounded several others.

There's a good write-up on Wikipedia, and it's been discussed thoroughly here, and on other sites. Here's the link:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fbi_miami_shootout

This incident was also the genesis for the development of the .40 S&W round.
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Old April 6, 2011, 11:26 PM   #7
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Newhall...

Only 1 of the 4 officers is believed to have had brass in his pockets.

Officer Frago was killed by Twining while approaching the passenger door of the suspects vehicle. He was struck twice in the chest and died immediately, he never fired a shot from the shotgun he was carrying. He did not have brass in his pockets.

Officer Gore exchanged shots with Twining after Frago went down from a distance of 8-10 feet diagonally over the trunk of the suspects car. Gore missed all shots, Davis who was being searched by Gore spun away from Gore as he engaged Twining, and then shot and killed Gore. Gore had no brass in his pockets.

Pence and Alleyn arrive. Alleyn is armed with a shotgun initially. Advances to the rear of Gore/Frago car, racks the slide and ejects a live round onto the pavement. He empties the shotgun, takes a position at the rear of the Gore/Frago vehicle to engage with his .357. He was hit in the face and upper chest by a shotgun blast.

Pence, leaves the car and moves to the rear of his vehicle. He engages the suspects empties his revolver and crouches down to begin a reload. He is hit in the leg, as he attempts to reload. He is the shot by one of the suspects at point blank range who had advanced on him. He is believed to have had brass in his pocket from the reload.

There a plenty of training failures to go around in the incident. The "brass in pockets" thing applies only to Pence. It doesn't lessen the failure of training the officers, but for the sake of accuracy it only applies to one. Each of the others had plenty of fatal mistakes as well.
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Old April 6, 2011, 11:44 PM   #8
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Moving to Tactics & Training.

One bright spot in the Newhall incident was that the acknowledgement that there were tactical and training issues allowed positive actions to be taken to correct the issues.

Contrast that with the FBI Miami shootout where the FBI chose to blame the caliber used and largely glossed over the tactical and training issues that were brought to light by the shooting.
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Old April 6, 2011, 11:48 PM   #9
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Former LEO here, from back in the 70s through early 90s. (I believe Newhall had occurred a few years before I started because I remember being trained never to catch my brass).

We were issued .38 SPL +P 125 gr. semi-jacketed HP rounds. Our practice / qualification ammo was factory reload 148 grain wadcutters.

The department did not issue guns, we had to buy our own and were not compensated or reimbursed. We could purchase any gun we wanted as long as it was a 4" barrel S&W or Colt revolver that would fire .38 special. Most carried S&W model 10s, 13s, 19s, or the stainless equivalents. I carried a model 66 most of the time, but at later times carried a model 10 and briefly a model 581 when the L frames first came out.

The reason for the wadcutters was to save money. It was a small department and the budget was always tight. The chief wasn't into guns and looked down on you as some sort of gung-ho cowboy if you showed any interest in them, so the culture in the department was rather low-key with respect to firearms.

Eventually we got to where at the end of our semi-annual requalification round of 50 wadcutters, they would have us shoot the 18 rounds of service ammo (38 +P) that we had been carrying the prior 6 months so we could get used to the feel of "full power" rounds, and would then give us 18 fresh rounds of ammo.

Later they began allowing us to carry 9mm autos (still had to buy our own) and they issued us Federal 9BP ammo. By that time they were giving us a whole box of 50 plus two extra rounds because you needed a full 52 rounds if you were going to load up three mags plus one in the pipe (Glock 17s were on the approved list, and most who switched to autos carried those). The practice ammo was regular 9mm FMJ, but the recoil was essentially the same as the service ammo.

Finally shortly before I retired they actually issued us guns that we didn't have to buy (S&W 5946 DAO 9mm autos). I haven't kept up with what they did after that.

I believe the reason (back then) is that the decision-makers were primarily the chiefs / sheriffs, and in most departments these guys had come up through the ranks 20 or more years earlier, so their opinions had been formed in the 50s. Shootouts and criminals with automatic weapons was something that for them was from childhood stories about the gangsters during prohibition, and that sort of thing didn't happen any more. It wasn't until the gang and drug related violence of the 80s and 90s came along that proved to them that an old six shooter just really didn't cut it any more, so they learned or retired and departments changed.

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Old April 7, 2011, 12:07 AM   #10
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North Hollywood or BoA shoot-out; 44 Minutes...

Another major US law enforcement shooting was the big 1997 North Hollywood or Bank of America shooting.
The 2 male, well armed subjects had level IV body armor & multiple weapons. There have been a few network & cable TV programs about the events in LA. The film; 44 Minutes www.IMDb.com documents what took place step by step too.
The North Hollywood LAPD shooting incident led to more on duty officers & detectives using .45acp & .40Smith and Wesson duty pistols. The LAPD brass also trotted out some 1970s era M-16a1 rifles for patrol use by I think that was more of a big PR stunt than a real mandate for duty rifles or M-4s.

I'd add that to my undestanding, the US Border Patrol & CBP now carry the HK P2000 LEM .40S&W pistol. I also heard that the issue weapon was the big Beretta 96D but the SIG Sauer P229 .40 was allowed as a option. To my knowledge many special agents & inspectors who "rode the river", bought the P-229s.

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Old April 7, 2011, 12:11 AM   #11
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When I first hired on the department (Anchorage Police Dept) was just starting to issue Model 28s, (or a couple years after I hired on). The issue ammo was 158 RN Lead 38s, cast and hand loaded by prisoner trustees.

Needless to say that wasn't my first choice in ammo.

They were liberal in allowing us to buy our own ammo so I went with 357s. I hand loaded my own, 150 SWCs pushed by 15 grns of 2400. We had belt loops as we weren't allowed to carry speed loaders. The patrol captain notices I was carrying reloads and asked me about it. I reminded him there was nothing in the policy about reloads. His face got red and he yelled, "you will get some factory ammo in the next 30 minutes, if I needed a policy written he would have it when I got back". Needless to say I was back in less then 30 minutes with a box of Winchester LSWC factory bullets.

The captain retired and I saw him at a gun show a few months later. He asked if I went back to reloads and I told him I did. He laughed and told me he carried his reloads the whole time he was on the department.

Anyway a few years later the Dept. went to Winchester 125 JHPs for 357s. I kept my reloads but qualified with both just for kicks. I did most of my shooting with 357s. Seldom did I shoot 38s in my service revolver. The Model 28 doesn't care what you shoot. (I still have the my issue Model 28).

Anchorage being Anchorage we had a lot of moose-vehicle encounters where the car was normally towed and the moose had to be put down. I found my 150 Grn LSWCs worked better on moose then the 125 JHPs.

I still have that mold, (Lyman 358477) and cast all my 38/357s from it. Its the same bullet I carry in my SD pocket revolver (Smith 642).

The book used as the bible for Police Administration back then (70s) was O.W. Wilson's "Police Administration". Quoted from Mr Wilson's book, "the service revolver should be heavy, so that it can be used as a club if need be".

The Model 28 certainly fits the bill though pistol whipping bandits wouldnt be PC in todays world.

I don't normally second guess officer involved shootings because I wasn't there. There is more then enough Monday Morning Quarterbacking without me chiming in. Most of what the officer uses is mandated by their department. I did what I did and what I could get by with when I did it. I don't think I would have done anything different.
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Old April 7, 2011, 01:11 AM   #12
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I used issue 357 ammo on a deer once the bullet failed to penetrate the rib cadge on a quarting shot angle from a 6" barrel.
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Old April 7, 2011, 01:30 AM   #13
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To the best of my knowledge, there are three major incidents involving active shooters that have significantly changed policies and procedures in law enforcement, all across the board.

1. Newhall Massacre

The poor tactics used by the responding officers contributed greatly to the perps gunning them down.

This incident gave birth to the high-risk/felony stop used nationwide by every law enforcement agency.

2. FBI shootout, Miami
This incident resulted in Federal agents losing their lives, and forced an in-depth examination on the ammunition issued to law enforcement officers. This was not a failure of tactics, but of the ammunition used--both Platt and Matix suffered many incapacitating and fatal wounds--problem was that they weren't fatal FAST enough.

This incident gave birth to the re-examination of duty sidearms, with the result of much better performing ammunition in high-capacity platforms.

3. Hollywood shootout

An absolute nightmare for the responding officers! Here, you have resolute gunmen, armed with select fire weapons in military calibers wearing effective body armor. Absolutely no problems with tactics or training--again, there just wasn't enough firepower available to the officers on scene.

This shootout led to the adaption of the patrol carbine--a rifle-caliber short rifle capable of good accuracy and tremendous stopping power. It also led to command staff re-thinking the availability of even heavier firepower to responding officers in the case of barricaded or heavily armored subjects.

To answer the OP, no law enforcement agency that I know OK's the .38 Special RNL round (aka, "the Widowmaker", because it got cops killed) for issue anymore. For those few officers that still carry revolvers, it's usually a good .38+P round at the minimum.

I have, for instance, been issued the following duty ammunition:

230 grain Speer Gold Dot .45 ACP (duty sidearm)
180 grain Speer Gold Dot .40 S&W (backup weapon)
55 grain Federal Tactical Rifle Urban (TRU) .223 Remington (patrol rifle)
175 grain Federal Gold Medal Match .308 Winchester (precision rifle)

All of these have been tested by numerous law enforcement agencies, and yield superior performance.
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Old April 7, 2011, 06:05 AM   #14
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Newhall

Joseph Wambaugh, a retired LA detective wrote the "Onionfield" about the Newhall incident, if I remember correctly. Good read.
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Old April 7, 2011, 08:11 AM   #15
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One aspect that I've often thought about, especially with the Miami Shootout was the FBI agents going up against a guy armed with a carbine and only using their pistols until one agent broke out the shotgun. Of the 2 bad guys, one of them did not exit their wrecked car and the one who did the most damage used a .223 carbine to great effect. It is known that the two bad guys practiced their shooting a lot in Florida swamps. I imagine that if both of the suspects had gotten out of their wrecked car that none of the FBI agents would have survived. My point is twofold:
1. We need to practice a lot more with our firearms. This also means that we need to understand that we need extremely good shot placement and to hit with rounds that have really good penetration. The idea of a bullet only going so far is silly. Sure, nobody wants to have a bullet injure or kill an innocent bystander but bullets that don't go all the way to the heart and stop short just shows how being politically correct can be a killer.
2. We need to put the bad guys at a tactical disadvantage by selecting firearms that have more range, more punch and better accuracy than they have available to them. In other words, if the bad guy uses a pistol we use a shotgun or a rifle with a tactical scope on it. If they use a rifle we need a rifle of better quality with a better sight system than they have. The two bad guys with the AK-47 rifles could easily have been dropped with one round each, in theory, if a good .308/7.62 NATO scoped rifle had been brought to bear. Trouble was none of the initial responding officers were not allowed to carry such firearms in their patrol vehicles because such firearms "look too aggressive." Again political correctness has no business in effective law enforcement and, in that case, slowed down the response capabilities of the officers trying to curb an armed robbery by violent men.

So, when limit factors, because of political correctness, are put on police officers, we can expect more officers to needlessly die or more civilians are placed in risk of harm or death too. Let's start thinking ahead of bad guys where armed combat is involved.
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Old April 7, 2011, 08:56 AM   #16
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Great information guys. I did not know that at least one officer had empty brass in his pockets. It agree that training in tactics and practice might have helped in both Newhall and Miami. But what I can't understand is my agencies would practice and train with ammo the officers did not use for duty. The budget excuse to me does does make sense. Why send officers out to protect citizens and themselfs knowning the officers have not practice with the ammo they carry. I know in my case my SD ammo shoots a lot different than practice ammo. I practice with my SD ammo every third time to the range just so I am familiar with the recoil and accurately. A person can be good with wadcutters at the range but miss when their life is on the line because their SD ammo shoots different. I know there are alot politics involved in goverment affecting there law enforcement agencies but not to equipt and train there officers to do the best job they can just puzzles me. Loosing lifes is tragic and happens but to loose lifes because of tactics, training and weapons still puzzles me.
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Old April 7, 2011, 11:00 AM   #17
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Roaddog, you are right--if you train like you will fight, you WILL fight like you have trained. This has been known for a long time.

Some departments still have the resources to get their officers out for some good training. Most, though, are feeling the budget crunch.

Unfortunately, the average cop only shoots at qualification time, and not too much--60 or so rounds, and that's it for six months. Even that is a stretch with money problems.

I try to train as much as possible. I'm fortunate enough to have a Dillon 650 with almost all the trimmings; I load 6.5 of Power Pistol behind 230 grain ball to duplicate the performance of my duty load. I train as much as I can. I also load .223, and I've put a lot of rounds through this rifle as well.

41.5 grains of RL 15 under the 175 grain .308 MatchKing gives me good practice rounds for my long rifle; I have logged around 2500 rounds down this barrel--about 2200 of that being my ammo.

In summary, the officer MUST practice on their own to build proficiency and to maintain proficiency.
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Old April 7, 2011, 11:28 AM   #18
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RE: The FBI in MIami

While teaching at our academy, I held a class on the 'Miami Shootout'. For background, I had the internal DOJ report, the three principal videos, and talked to the Metro-Dade Sgt. who conducted the crime scene investigation.

I always started by telling my class: "9 of us are going out to arrest two bad guys: we will have MP5's, shotguns, body armor, 9mm pistols, and 357 Magnums. Is there anyone here who will not go with me?"
They were all ready to go.

The FBI were NOT undergunned. They had shotguns, but all but one was carried in the trunk of their car. There were also 2 S/A with MP5's, but neither one was involved in the shooting (one was in the bathroom when the radio traffic was on-going, the other inside a bank - a long story in itself)
They had body armor - but only one supervisor put his on. The rest was in the trunks of the cars.

The lessons are many, and not suited for a public forum. But I see the principal problem as:
The agents left the office thinking: "This is just a surveillance; nothing's going to happen; it's not going to happen today; and if something does happen, it certainly will not happen to me!

Mindset was the principal thing that killed those Special Agents!

BTW, the video that was on TV, "authorized" by the FBI, left out lots of stuff that would be embarrassing to the Bureau.

Oh yes, the bad guys had a Ruger Mini-14 (the rifle that did all the killing), and a shotgun that was used for one shot that hit nothing. They also both had .357 revolvers.
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Old April 7, 2011, 02:19 PM   #19
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Quote:
[snip]

The FBI were NOT undergunned. They had shotguns, but all but one was carried in the trunk of their car. There were also 2 S/A with MP5's, but neither one was involved in the shooting (one was in the bathroom when the radio traffic was on-going, the other inside a bank - a long story in itself)
They had body armor - but only one supervisor put his on. The rest was in the trunks of the cars.

[snip]
So the rumor I heard that two of the agents were doing some waitress is only that, an ugly rumor?
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Old April 7, 2011, 02:33 PM   #20
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Absolutely an ugly rumor. There is nothing to substantiate that, and all of the S/A's assigned can be accounted for.

This was an area surveillance, trying to cover all the banks in a given area. One agent decided to sit in the bank parking lot, and decided he better tell the manager, to avoid problems. The manager had never seen an FBI 'commission book' , and thought it was a phony. He delayed the agent in the bank (without a radio) until a local officer could come there to confirm his identity!

We never did surveillance from a bank parking lot, for just this reason.

But the 'area surveillance' fostered the idea that nothing would happen. They had no specific intelligence that any one bank would be hit.

And in my study of the event, there is no reason to disparage any of the agents. They were not properly trained (no training on high risk felony stops at that time, for example), and had a negative mindset, but they all reacted to the highest standards that could be expected.
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Old April 7, 2011, 10:31 PM   #21
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Federal LE vision standards; Miami FBI event...

One of the big factors in the FBI/Platt-Matix event was how a FBI special agent in the car crash, lost his eyeglasses and drew his BUG(a 5 shot J frame revolver).
His vision & aim were a serious problem. That part of the incident may have led to the changes in federal law enforcement policy about corrected & uncorrected vision standards.
I was offered a 083 police job(paygrade GS-06) with a LE agency in the late 1990s. The LE agency(now a part of the US Dept of Homeland Security) had strict medical requirements and I was told I could not wear eyeglasses on duty.
Because of the big FBI Miami event, I could understand it.
Clyde F

ps; A few years ago, gun writer & tactics trainer Massad Ayoob had a good magazine item about using safety glasses or protective eyewear on duty(even if you have 20/20 or clear vision). Ayoob stated having 2 pairs of eyeglasses or wearing safety lenses on duty is a smart move.
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Old April 7, 2011, 11:17 PM   #22
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In the Miami Shootout SA Grogan lost his glasses. He engaged with his SW 459 9mm. Grogan was an excellent shot, but obviously suffered because of the lost glasses. Grogan was SWAT qualified, the status authorized him to carry the 9mm semi-auto.

SA Hanlon removed his primary SW revolver and laid it (in holster) on the seat beside him. In the impact of his car against a retaining wall prior to the gunfight starting his gun went flying, he then drew his backup snub from an ankle holster and crossed the street under fire to the rear of Grogan and Dove's vehicle. Hanlon fired all 5 shots from the snub and was wounded while attempting a reload. He was then wounded again, more seriously when Platt advanced on his and Dove/Grogan's position.
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Old April 8, 2011, 11:01 AM   #23
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Luggo has it exactly right.
(Edited to add that nothing I saw indicated the one gun was still in it's holster. It was later found wedged between the seat and the 'B' pillar on the passenger side. The FBI did not train to draw while seated in a car at that time.)

Not many folks know a white delivery truck drove through the shooting at it's height - it had to have taken hits. But it was never found.

As for me, I believe that every day is going to be THE DAY, and act accordingly. In fact, I just had to deal with a case from 1971, where the violator, who is now a Doctor, stood to lose everything. Could he still pose a threat? He could have lost his Doctor's license, home, and gone to prison - you bet he could, as I was the sole surviving officer that could testify against him.

And one day it was THE DAY for me - but my training and mindset allowed me to use an 'alternative weapon' to protect the public.
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Old April 8, 2011, 05:24 PM   #24
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For anyone who may be interested, Massad Ayoob reviewed this incident at great length in his American Handgunner column "The Ayoob Files." He likewise reviewed the FBI Miami incident in those pages as well. Both are done in his usual exhaustively researched, well-written style. You can find both articles in his "The Ayoob Files: The Book", available on Amazon.com. It's a great read and a must-have for any student of self-defense. For what it's worth, the 25th anniversary of the Miami incident is coming up on 4-11-11....wonder if the lame- stream media will ignore it [gee, what are the odds]?
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Old April 8, 2011, 10:58 PM   #25
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Lessons learned; Miami FBI incident Michael Gross: NBC's Family Ties...

I would add to this topic that another "lesson" from the Platt-Matix shooting event was what I call; the Superman Syndrome.
Both the violent subjects & a few of the FBI special agents were in "plainclothes". Residents in the Miami area had called 911 & informed police there was a drug or gang shooting going on.
This to me is a good reason for LE or armed/licensed security to wear raid gear or uniform items that CLEARLY display the agency name or position(hats, windbreaker jackets, patches, vests, etc). In the extreme conditions of a shooting incident or critical event, IDing who's who is VERY important.
In the mid 2000s, I bought a polo type uniform shirt from www.Galls.com that had SECURITY on the front & back of the garment. I wore it on armed details and wanted to be clearly visible when I had a sidearm on duty.

Clyde
ps; Actor Michael Gross, who played the easy going dad on the hit NBC sitcom Family Ties also had a role in the NBC TV movie about the FBI shoot-out. Gross played one of the bank robbers(with Starsky & Hutch's David Soul). He learned a lot about weapons & firearms for the production and later supported the NRA and 2A issues in the public. www.IMFDb.org
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