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Recently, theres been a spike of blue-on-blue shootings and most were fatal. I'm working with several trainers down here in hopes of putting together a specific training course related to this issue.

Does anyone have any advice such as badge placement for plain clothes officers, etc? Obviously training is a huge factor.

I just wanted to hear from cops all around about what they think about this. How would you try to prevent this from happening? What types of live training would you implement?

Also, what should we as fellow officers do when this happens at our agencies? There are no such policies that I am aware of. My biggest concern for the officer that killed his partner would be suicide. My agency offers crisis counseling but it only works if the officers want it to. In the meantime, what should we be doing for that officer?

Thanks ALOT in advance for everyone's help.

Be safe brothers and sisters!


  • edited 29 Nov 2012
    One officer suggested that we should wear some sort of reflective striping that the military uses to prevent friendly fire. Not sure how that would work in civilian LE. I looked around and I couldn't even find an agency that tested that.
  • I think the biggest thing with this is how we train. I know in my department, threat recognition training and shoot don't shoot scenarios are not taught as often as they should be. We wind up leaving huge training scars by not teaching them more often. If you simply put up a target of a guy with a gun and have us shoot them, then we wind up shooting everyone with a gun, regardless of blue or not..
  • In my area we recently had a UC shot by uniforms during a drug bust. They didn't know he was a cop. As soon as they realized what had happened, the officer who shot the UC took him code 3 to the hospital. Thankfully, the UC lived
  • There has to be good communication and accurate details on who is UC in an operation. They may not even have any identification depending on the situation. Pre-op is a must! We've had many large scale crowd insertions where all the Plainclothes step out to be seen before the OP. We also almost had one go bad because it was inter-agency and there was a verbal signal that was not sent out in brief prior to the operation. BAD COMMUNICATION.

    This hasn't happened in my department but I have read the incidents of Offduty officers acting and getting shot. Do not know how one would deal with a spontaneous incident well. To many variables.
  • Blue on Blue shootings should not happen PERIOD. PID!!! Positive Identification AT-ALL-TIMES. Know what your shooting before you shoot...
  • now, I'm not an Officer yet, I'm only a student at Alexandria Tech n Comm school, but in regards to blue on blue shooting. Aren't you guys notified if there is a UC in the area of a certain bust. and as for reflective tape or something along those lines. it could work but it would be caught on quickly. Maybe if UC wore some sort of clothing that was highly noticeable but in code i guess. For instance: UC from say Alexandria, MN wear red flannel shirts as UC clothing. tell the surrounding Officers don't shoot red flannel people. Training is another big time deal to focus on. I think some Officers get a big adrenaline rush and may get trigger happy, w/o seeing the uniform they shoot when they see a gun. More training procedures to help cope with trigger happiness and adrenaline rushes.
  • edited 6 Dec 2012
    Jake - In an ideal world communication would be perfect and we would know if there was a UC op going on in the area. But too often the UC op is conducting by a neighboring or overlying agency and communication is not made. I know that in many areas of the country carrying you badge and gun visible to all to see when off duty can be a death sentence or at the very least extremely dangerous. In Texas this isn't so much a problem, police officers carry their guns and badges completely visible and open off duty all the time and it is actually highly respected. I wish it were the same everywhere. But then to add to this, anybody can buy a badge online that says police and although it may seem disrespectful at the time anytime I uniformed officer encounters a plain clothes officer he shouldn't necessarily trust the plain clothed officer. Nothing says that the uniform can't tell him to put his gun down and handcuff him. It is just very risky to get involved if you are off duty in plain clothes.

    My general advise although I am just a cadet so my advise shall not override those with more experience I am just speaking from the advise of my instructors. The best thing to do if a crime is being committed in your view and you are not under fire, or at risk for doing so, call 911 and get uniformed officers there.
  • I'm not a police officer currently. I've work with agencies on special assignments. I have 3 ideas.

    1. Like old military talk - "Thunder" from UC, officers shouts "Lightning" or something of that nature.
    2. Have a certain color or word each day that UCs can shout out if in that situation. And the word is chosen randomly and always distributed in pre tour briefing
    3. UC shouts badge number and precinct.

    If you need help with this project please feel free to contact me back.
  • Hi:

    I'm retired. Live in Mobile, Alabama and most of my Law Enforcement service was in Ala.
    I Was Training officer (as well as other duties) for a number of years and Trained a lot of young officers, as well as keeping others current in minimum standards. Taught all aspects of LE work as well as all small arms traning.

    We taught:
    1 - IDENTIFY yourself whether in uniform or plain clothes.
    2 - Wear a badge (plain Clothes) on a fairly long chain around your neck, so it can be pulled out and presented very obviously, to the uniformed officer -- or other person.
    3 - Be ABSOLUTELY SURE of your target BEFORE you FIRE!
    4 - REMEMBER -- YOU are RESPONSIBLE for your bullet until it STOPS!
    5 - When I was in plain clothes, I always carried TWO badges, one around my neck and the other on my belt right in front of my holster.

    Hope this might help!
    Watch your front sight

    Charles C. (Chuck) Hand III
  • This is a tough topic to broach and I believe that you can never eliminate all the different factors that cause a blue on blue situation.

    Shoot or don't shoot training is probably the most important aspect of protecting from these kinds of incidents. The problem is that this training isn't done enough. When I teach active shooter incidents it is not uncommon for people under stress to shoot the wrong people. This being said, in order for it to be good training it needs to be done under stress and the situations need to be as real as possible (Grossman calls it stress inoculation).

    The problem with reflective bands, covert signals, and things like that is that it will eventually leak out. Then the problem will be when the suspects start dawning these things and causing confusion on a scene.

    Describing the UC during the brief is very important too. Photographs are good to help the officers taking action.

    In the end, it all goes back to what we say on the firing range...."Don't point your weapon at anything that you don't wish to destroy."
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  • I was a M.P. and reflective bands and such are great for military personnel but are a terrible idea for civilian work. Same for color coded apparel. This will catch on very fast with the criminal society and the UC becomes an instant mark.

    The only thing I can think of is proper and consistent FREQUENT training, something that departments in general do not do enough of. I am a big fan of the F.A.T.S. as an excellent shoot/no-shoot scenarios combined with quality range time with varied targets civilian, thug to further bolster the shoot/no-shoot scenarios. A possible idea would be a duress code, couldn't hurt and would add a bit of credibility to the UC's claim of being a police officer.

    The biggest problem is once the adrenaline kicks in you get wired and the only way to overcome this is to constantly train and drill these scenarios over and over again. You work the way you train when the S.H.T.F. and you need to train for it. Target identification is key. If he says hes UC prone him anyway and restrain him until it can be verified. Like the other wise individual previously said, anyone can order a badge online. You have to be proactive for yourself first and then reduce the threat.

    Be safe and alert everyone, come home at night no matter the cost. It's better to send flowers than be planted 6' under.
  • As an officer that was shot by another officer, I am going to respond to the part of this topic that refers to the officer who did the shooting and in this case the officer who survived. I am here because I was wearing my vest. I know that in my department, so far I have been treated kind of like a leper by my fellow officers. People don't know what to think of me, I was the new officer on the street and one of my training officers shot me during a training scenario. The department didn't know how to respond. They didn't know who's side to take. And in the end they went with the veteran officer and pretty much shunned me. I have had to work long and hard to gain their respect and civility. It has been 6 years and I still have to fight that fight every day. To my department, I am a walking display of how they messed up. The officer who shot me took the road of closing up his feelings and not talking about it. He stopped talking to me shortly after the accident and it stayed that way for 3 years. Due to different assignments and the way the department chose to handle the incident, we did not see much of each other. When we were finally put on the same shift together everyone was nervous as to how we would work together. I never held a grudge against the officer. The department failed us in the training, we are human. I never treated him differently and once he saw that I did not let the permanent physical deformities hinder me in my job, he started to open up. Once he realized that I held no grudge and completely forgave him, I think he finally forgave himself.

    So many officers are quick to judge, thinking we are super hero's and we are never supposed to make mistakes. So quick are we to throw each other under the bus when mistakes happen. We have to remember that we are human and we are going to mess up. It happens and when it does we need the support of our blue family to get through it. With out support officers fall to suicide. So the advice I would offer is work with departments to deal with these incidents in ways to support the officers and not to shun them. Work on policies that offer more counseling and debriefing than other critical incidents. Support your fellow brothers and sisters when mistakes are made. Remember that the media gets it wrong before they get it right so don't jump to conclusions without knowing all the details.
  • It isn't always a planned operation where a plain clothed officer can run into trouble... you could be off duty & be in a store during an armed robbery where immediate action is needed & backing away to call dispatch may not be a first option... Other officers respond to the silent alarm & there you are with a gun, in a store where a robbery in progress has been reported & the responding officers have to sort out who's who, even if you show your badge...

    Technology is out there that could help & can be retrofitted at a fairly inexpensive cost... (even if it saves one life, it will have paid for itself many times over).

    SRFID. Secure Radio Frequency Identification. Affix a small SRFID transmitter to each & every badge (best when used state-wide & if near state lines, surrounding agencies would benefit from coming on board as well...) uses a small watch battery to transmit a secure, encrypted signal...

    Software added to the cruisers computers allow uniformed officers to pick up & decode the signal to tell them there is an officer on scene... not hard to add badge # & department ID to that signal, which would allow them to pull up a photo ID on the computer to aid in Identifying the officer...

    All just an AID to IDing, not a replacement to proper training & communication between uni's & plain clothes... BUT if that plain clothed officer is somehow incapacitated upon responding officers arrival & can't communicate, his/her badge could do it for them.

    Again ~ the technology is already available & rolling security codes could be used to further secure the transmitted data from the badge to the field computers.
  • edited 6 Dec 2012
    Here is an interesting study that was conducted on this topic. I have it in .pdf form if you'd like a copy. Just send me an email. I didn't write or conduct this study. I'm just sharing it. The author is at the end of part 2. I had to post this in two parts due to character restrictions. Stay safe!

    Part 1 of 2

    M E M O R A N D U M

    July 23, 2012

    TO: Captain John Mueller, Commander, Training Unit

    FROM: Sergeant Ward Smith, Supervisor, Firearms Training Section

    SUBJECT: Badge Placement Study-In-service Training 2011/2012

    During preparations for In-service Training 2011, one of the main training concepts we wanted to concentrate on was prevention of incidents where on-duty officers shoot an off-duty or undercover officer in plain clothes (Blue-on Blue shootings).

    In recent years there have been a number of high profile incidents involving on-duty personnel shooting officers taking enforcement action while either off-duty or in plain clothes. The repercussions of an incident such as this are far reaching, potentially devastating, and can not only cause serious trust issues within an agency, but within a community as well.

    In designing our training we intended to leverage the collateral benefit of ensuring identification of a threatening target rather than shooting at whatever shape happened to turn toward the shooter. A vital component of this training was addressing poor performance, providing meaningful and accurate training, and holding students accountable.

    In constructing shooting scenarios we divided the Indoor Range into eight shooting bays, with a total of sixteen (16) targets. Training participants were asked to perform several different shooting tasks, designed as skill building exercises. The exercises involved movement, movement to cover, and engagement of multiple targets. In addition a significant amount, approximately 50%, of the exercises were conducted in “Low Light” conditions. The targets were programmed to face the officers for a variable amount of time from between one (1) to three (3) seconds.

    Of the sixteen (16) targets posted for the exercises, four (4) of the targets were altered by affixing a full color/full size Kansas City Missouri Police Department badge, silver in color, to the targets designating them as “No-Shoots”. Two (2) of the “No-Shoot” targets had badges affixed to the beltline of the humanoid illustration, and the other two (2) had badges hanging from a simulated chain around the target’s neck. The placement of the chain was designed to place the badge center chest of the targets.

    Our hypothesis was the “No-Shoot” targets with the badges along the beltline would be shot more often than the targets with badges that appeared in the “center mass” of the targets, and more “No-Shoot” targets of both types would be shot during the low
    light portion of the exercise than during the full light portion.

    During In-service 2011 each participant fired approximately 125 rounds during the exercises conducted, and on average we had 23 participants during each of the 40 sessions sampled for a total of 920 officers sampled.

    During In-service Training 2011 we observed the following results on each of the “No-Shoot” targets during the 40 sessions we examined;

    The Belt Badge Targets under full lighting conditions were hit a total of 1,272 times for an average of 31.8 hits per In-service session in 2011.

    The Neck Badge Targets under full lighting conditions were hit a total of 196 times for an average of 4.9 hits per In-service session in 2011.

    The Belt Badge Targets under low lighting conditions were hit a total of 5,288 times for an average of 132.2 hits per In-service session in 2011.

    The Neck Badge Targets under low lighting conditions were hit a total of 843 times for an average of 21.07 hits per In-service session in 2011.

    During the training we called the participants attention to the fact the “No-Shoot” targets were being hit, and provided training and techniques to prevent this from reoccurring.
    In looking at the data gathered, we found the following results as it pertained to this exercise;

    When we compared targets in Low Light conditions to targets in Full Lighting, Fully lighted targets were hit 1,468 times versus 6,131 times for targets under low light, making it 4 times more likely a “No-Shoot” target will be shot in Low Light versus a Fully Lit target during these exercise in 2011.

    In comparing Belt Badges to Neck Badges, Targets with Belt Badges were hit a total of 6,560 times versus 1,039 times for targets with Neck Badges, making it 6 times more likely a “No-Shoot” target with a Belt Badge will be shot compared to a target with a Neck Badge during these exercise in 2011.

    As the data indicates, lighting conditions were a big factor in how our personnel performed, but the actual location of the placement of our badge on the target proved to be an even bigger determining factor as to whether a target was engaged or not by our officers. To some extent this matched our hypothesis, but it was a little surprising to see badge placement was as big a factor as it turned out to be.
  • Part 2 of 2

    After looking at the results of our study for 2011, I wanted to see if we had affected our member’s ability to evaluate and scan targets under short time constraints, and prevent officers from shooting unintended targets. The decision was made to design a similar training session for In-service 2012, and track the same data, comparing the two years head to head.

    In-service training for 2012 involved the use of the same number of hostile targets and the same number of “No-Shoot” targets used during the 2011 In-service session. Included in the training topics for 2012 were movement, low light drills, a precision review, and transitions from a hands-on application to a shooting situation.

    Once again a significant amount of the exercises were conducted in “Low Light” conditions, (approximately 50%). Targets were programmed to face the officers for a variable amount of time from between one (1) to three (3) seconds. The number of participants per session was nearly identical to 2011.

    When we evaluated the “No-Shoot” targets of an identical sampling of 40 sessions during 2012 In-service Training, we discovered some interesting information;

    The Belt Badge Targets under full lighting conditions were hit a total of 240 times for an average of 6 hits per In-service session in 2012. Down from a total of 1,272 hits for an average of 31.8 hits per In-service session in 2011. A reduction of 82%.

    The Neck Badge Target under full lighting conditions were hit a total of 25 times for an average of .625 hits per In-service session in 2012. Down from a total of 196 times for an average of 4.9 hits per In-service session in 2011. A reduction of 88%.

    The Belt Badge Targets under low lighting conditions were hit a total of 525 times for an average of 13.125 hits per In-service session in 2012. Down from a total of 5,288 times for an average of 132.2 hits per In-service session in 2011. A reduction of 90%.

    The Neck Badge Target under low lighting conditions were hit a total of 71 times for an average of 1.775 hits per In-service session in 2012. Down from a total of 843 times for an average of 21.07 hits per In-service session in 2011. A reduction of 92%.

    When we compared the 2012 In-service statistic, targets in Low Light conditions to targets in Full Lighting, Fully lighted targets were hit 265 times versus 596 times for targets under low light, making it 2.25 times more likely a “No-Shoot” target will be shot in Low Light versus a Fully Lit target during these exercises in 2012.

    In comparing Belt Badges to Neck Badges, Targets with Belt Badges were hit a total of 765 times versus 96 times for targets with Neck Badges, making it 8 times more likely a “No-Shoot” target with a Belt Badge will be shot compared to a target with a Neck Badge during these exercises in 2012.

    When looking at the results we obtained, I believe we can draw a few conclusions;

    Lighting conditions make a significant difference in target identification and engagement

    Placement of Identification and Badges/Shields makes a significant difference in target identification and engagement

    The compressed time frame designed into the training places a pressure on the participants similar to actual real-world shootings

    From comments and information obtained from the participants, peer pressure added a positive element of pressure to the training

    There was a residual effect from training similarity year to year, resulting in a higher level of proficiency and target identification capability

    Because we train to shoot center mass, officers are able to readily see identification/badges suspended in the middle of the chest

    As officers access their weapons and come to a ready position with their pistols, the humanoid target is covered or obscured by the shooters hands and weapon, greatly hindering their ability to see anything below mid-chest, to include a belt mounted badge
    Our members improved by an average of 88% in the categories evaluated indicating a remarkable improvement in their threat assessment abilities

    I recommend this information be forwarded to the members of our Uniform Committee for their consideration. We’ve been providing members attending training with the above information along with a strong recommendation they discontinue wearing their identification along the belt line. Whether this information is incorporated in Department Policy or not, I recommend it be disseminated Department wide to all sworn members to allow them to make an informed decision regarding the wearing of badges and identification while in plain clothes.

    Sergeant Ward Smith
    Firearms Training Section
  • Policeone tore this apart a while back. Chain and badge from the neck is your best bet.
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