Tag Archives: intervention

The Downsides of Intervention

Family mourns loss of single father of two girls


The number of people who feel obligated to Intervene in other people’s quarrels simply amazes me. Someone commented on my Tactical Professor Facebook page that “Society is a better place when people practice self sacrifice.” That’s not the way our ‘system’ in America is set up. The American system of social controls has changed a great deal over the course of our history as a nation. At one time, we had to help each other. Unfortunately, the evolution of the Criminal Justice arena (and I use the word arena deliberately) during the 20th and 21st Centuries means, with regard to intervention in criminal events we are not directly involved in, that time is long past. Even the POlice take a risk when they intervene in others’ affairs despite the fact that it’s their job, they are equipped for it, and they have legal protections for doing so.

Your family is depending on you and they are your first and foremost obligation. No one will be a better father or mother to your children than you are. Don’t jeopardize that long term relationship for the short term gratification of Intervention for which you are unlikely to receive any thanks anyway. Intervention is all risk and little to no reward. No benefit accrues to the person intervening on another’s behalf.


Crusading against Intervention has become a big issue for me since I began researching Negative Outcomes. Much like advocating taking a Defensive Driving Course, it’s largely Quixoteish but I feel the need anyway. It’s my own form of Intervention, I guess.

Like one who grabs a stray dog by the ears is someone who rushes into a quarrel not their own.

Proverbs 26:17

At one time, I had it in my mind that Intervention was a good idea but my Father always advised me against it. When I was a teenager, he told me about a guy he knew who was stabbed to death during the course of an Intervention just like the incident above.

Don’t get involved, Son.

Over time, I realized that it was one of those issues where the older I got, the smarter my Father became. My research into Serious Mistakes completely confirmed the wisdom of what he told me. The Intervention section of my Negative Outcomes database is huge. Some of those Negative Outcomes are so bizarre and so unexpected that they bring to mind something the Real Dr. House mentioned at last weekend’s Hemorrhage Arrest Course.

The difference between fiction and reality is that fiction has to make sense.

Of all the books I’ve written, I still think Serious Mistakes Gunowners Make is the most important. Life is a minefield in many ways. Knowing what they look like helps to prevent you from stepping on one.

Tactical Professor books

Serious Mistakes Gunowners Make http://seriousgunownermistakes.com

Indoor Range Practice Sessions downloadable eBook. http://indoorrangepracticesessions.com

Concealed Carry Skills and Drills downloadable eBook. http://concealedcarryskillsanddrills.com

Advanced Pistol Practice http://bit.ly/advancedpistolpractice

Shooting Your Black Rifle http://shootingyourblackrifle.com/

Any of the books are easily converted for Kindle use.

Sheepdogs almost get bitten

[Seven soldiers] said they had witnessed a disturbance between [the couple] in a parking lot, and they said they intervened. They said they believed they had deescalated the situation and began to walk back to their vehicle.

Police said Gallegos and Garzes are boyfriend and girlfriend. As the soldiers started to leave, they said Garzes [the girlfriend] ran to her boyfriend’s truck and pulled out a handgun.

She handed it to Gallegos [the boyfriend], and the soldiers told police he began firing the weapon.

Pair arrested after firing at Fort Hood soldiers

One possible strategy in the context of personal protection is ‘being a hero.’ This is one of the underlying motives for ‘sheepdogism.’ However, it’s useful to remember that the highest award given by our country for heroism is the Medal of Honor, which is often awarded posthumously.


Intervene and die

Concealed carry gun-wielder intervenes in domestic dispute and shot dead in Texas

The concealed carry permit holder was trying to intervene in a domestic dispute, trying to disarm the fleeing shooter, trying to do [t]he job ordinarily reserved for police.

The man leaves behind a wife and three now fatherless children.

“Getting shot while intervening in affairs that are not yours” is an item I will now have to add to my list of Serious Mistakes Gunowners Make. Having your wife widowed and your children orphaned for someone else’s issues definitely qualifies as a “Negative Outcome.” So many things can go wrong in an intervention that it’s almost never a good decision, regardless of what ‘sheepdogs‘ might think. Sheep dip is probably a better general analogy.


The Charge of the Light Brigade

‘He went into protective mode. He’s a father, he’s protective by nature,’ [the deceased man]’s pastor, Marc Lowrance, told reporters Monday. ‘And he thought he could help everyone involved, and tragically it went a different way.’

[He], Lowrance said, ‘sacrificed himself for this family, much the way he sacrificed himself for strangers today.’

The above comment accentuates why we need to think about and plan for events in advance. Think about what’s most important to you, your family or a stranger? Make your decisions in advance accordingly.”In every encounter, there is an element of chance.”

I often say “The conscious mind has a lifespan of one shot.” That’s not only the shot you fire but it can be the round fired by someone else. A common saying in the training industry is “You won’t rise to the occasion but will rather default to the level of your training.” While this is almost always used in the context of skills, it is equally applicable to decision-making. In that sense, this man’s death has similarities to the man killed trying to stop two active shooters in the Las Vegas Walmart in 2014. In the absence of decisions proactively made in our best interests and the best interests of our families, it’s easy to get caught up in the moment.

The worst part of the whole situation is that he sacrificed himself for nothing in the situation. The shooter had finished his violent act, which inflicted a non-life threatening wound, and was trying to leave when Mr. Antell intervened and was killed trying to stop him. The best way we can honor his sacrifice is to make sure it doesn’t happen to us.

What Strategies should we train (or train not to)?

“He that passeth by, and meddleth with strife belonging not to him, is like one that taketh a dog by the ears.” — Proverbs 26:17

In my analysis of The Armed Citizen column, two things that I noticed have broader implications than ‘skills,’ although there are both skills and tactics involved in their execution. To me, they are strategic considerations about what to do vis-à-vis how to do it. I’m not hung up on the strategic/tactical terminology, so call it whatever suits you.

Intervene in another’s situation                 15%

Hold at gunpoint until police arrive             12%

As many of my friends know, I’m not a fan of intervention in others’ affairs. I won’t say I would never do it, but I would need a really good reason. Even some police agencies, such as the LAPD, discourage officers from taking ‘enforcement action’ when they are off-duty.

Los Angeles Board of Police Commissioners’ Findings

Although it is preferred that an off-duty officer refrain from taking enforcement action and instead act as a good witness, the rapidly unfolding circumstances warranted immediate intervention to preserve life.

Therefore, it was reasonable for Officer A to take immediate action to safeguard the lives of the public.

Even when the LAPD BOPC finds an officer’s “use of force to be in policy, requiring no action” in such a situation, it sometimes recommends additional training that the officer must undergo to remedy tactical deficiencies noted.

Board of Police Commissioners’ Findings

A. Tactics

The BOPC found that … Officer A (7 years, 8 months service) would benefit from additional tactical training at the Training Division (formal training) level.

In one incident that took place in the Atlanta area 3 years ago, the person who intervened was shot in the back and killed by a seeded backup man in the liquor store. There were a whole series of tactical and marksmanship issues and errors associated with that tragic incident.

In addition to the tactical considerations, Andrew Branca’s excellent book The Law of Self Defense discusses a number of legal considerations about intervention. For example, if a weapons carrier intervenes of behalf of someone who is not innocent in the encounter, then neither is the one who intervenes.

Intervention opens a big can of worms and I’ve never been much interested in fishing. Many years ago, Evan Marshall, a very savvy and experienced Detroit street cop, espoused a philosophy of being a good witness until “they start searching people, making people get down on the floor, or herding people into a back room.” At that point, he felt gunfire was in order. I haven’t come across anything I find more apropos, so that’s the personal strategy I have in mind.

The risk/reward aspect of ‘Hold at gunpoint until police arrive’ is a separate and involved topic that we’ll discuss in the future.