Debrief: the tale of two traffic stop "ambushes"

I haven't done any debriefing of incidents on this website before. Now is a good time to start. Of course I'll be using The Illinois Model as a template when I give my opinions.


These two police car dash-camera videos have been making the rounds lately. There are plenty of opinions on the videos (and incidents), both individually and collectively. Maybe these videos will help our followers better define their personal Police Operational Philosophy.

(If the videos aren't displaying on your device, here are some links: and

In both cases, the motorist exits the car and faces the police officer. In both cases, the motorist pulls a dark item on the officer. In both cases, the officer fires his weapon...though at different times in the encounter.

In Oregon, the officer (Matt Zistel) was shot. So was the motorist. The dark item was a pistol.

In Texas, the officer (Justin Boehm) was the first and only to shoot....and miss. The dark item was a wallet. The officer got fired.

I'll let you google the two incidents for more information on each incident. There is plenty of opinion, discussion, critique, and support for both.

In the meantime, we prefer to use The Illinois Model LEOpSys as our method to debriefing incidents. We loop our "process" with:
  1. Priority of Life - threat and problem analysis,
  2. Mission - Objective - goals, based on law,
  3. Strategy - Tactics - plans and methods.
In these videos, the situation and circumstances unfold VERY quickly. Without some sort of pre-planned response, these officers were/would have been operating and responding behind the decision-making curve.

Keep in mind, police officers, by law, are not required to be factually correct; they only must be reasonable in their belief. We all know "objective reasonableness" is rarely a black-and-white decision. Even a panel of our country's ultimate judges can't agree on most topics.

Louis Hayes is a co-developer of The Illinois Model law enforcement operations system (LEOpSys) and moderates several courses rooted in its theory and concepts. He is a 15-year police officer, currently assigned to a multi-agency tactical unit in Chicagoland. The universal process he uses for case critique is the same used during planning and operational decision-making. A full compilation of articles on The Illinois Model can be found here.

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  1. so the question is how do we fix both of these problems?

  2. Dave, I believe the answer lays within our Model's "Strategy-Tactics" tier. Even for a simple car stop for a minor traffic violation, there are stabilizing maintaining distance, using cover, good positioning. I'm not going to compromise tactics on an open forum like this, but will email you a couple more points. But will close with these questions to all readers: do you or your officers see traffic stops as an "incident" that can be strategized with either stabilizing or action-based plans? If not, why not? And what are you doing in training to develop slower, more stabilizing strategies for these daily car stops?


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