Ambush Awareness and Response

According to the nonprofit Washington-based National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund, the number of law enforcement officers shot to death in the line of duty rose 78% between January and July of 2016, from the same time the previous year. The leading method of those shootings was ambush-style attack.

In June of 2014 a man and a woman ambushed and killed two Las Vegas police officers while they were eating lunch at a restaurant. In December of 2014, two New York City police officers were ambushed and shot to death while sitting in their marked patrol car, without warning by an assailant who approached the passenger side of their car while they were parked.

Documented cases exist where perpetrators have staged a crime in order to lure law enforcement to a scene for the purpose of ambushing and killing them. In July of 2016, 10 days after five police officers were gunned down in an ambush-style attack in Dallas, Texas a gunman ambushed and killed three Baton Rouge, Louisiana, police officers.

Being aware of your surroundings at all times is critical! Wear your vest while on duty and remember:

Complacency kills:

  • Be aware and watch for pre-attack indicators like body-language, eye contact and verbalcues. Train and actively watch for them;
  • Do not do paperwork or write reports in a vehicle in an unsecured location;
  • Park your vehicle in a way that you can drive away rapidly if it becomes necessary;
  • Check mirrors often, and never let someone approach while you are sitting in your car;
  • Make sure you are not being followed. A few left turns will help you identify potential danger;
  • Avoid driving the exact same routes every day, including when going home;
  • Scan parking lots and intersections as you enter them;
  • Make eye contact, and pay attention to those who avoid eye contact with you;
  • Be cautious when cars stop suddenly in front of you or when they fail to pull completely off the road when they stop;
  • When suspects exit their vehicle, if they leave their door open that could be an indication they plan to attack and run back to their car;
  • Don’t be a sitting target, either in your patrol car or a public setting.


  • Maintain a heightened situational awareness. Be aware of your surroundings at all times;
  • Don’t allow yourself to be fixated on your in car computer and/or cell phone. Many times officers never notice someone approaching them because they are consumed with their computer screens or checking social media;
  • Don’t sit in one place for an extended period of time. Keep moving. This applies when sitting in your car writing a report, or a public building/business;
  • Complacency breeds carelessness;
  • Practice good officer safety techniques at all times. Identify cover and concealment options in the event they are needed;
  • When met with any threat, be quick in your response in a lawful and appropriate manner;
  • If a threat presents while sitting in your car, your vehicle may be used as a weapon to stop the threat. Backing away evasively may also be the best response.

WIN – Think About What’s Important Now. This question will lead to deliberate action, not reaction. If you are constantly prioritizing what’s most important, you won’t have time for the distractions that can get you in trouble, hurt or killed.

Please contact FSRMF with any questions or for additional information at