Important Lessons from Police Badge Cam Videos

the aftermath of a police shooting.
the aftermath of a police shooting.

NOTE: all the links in this article are to videos, some of which some viewers may find disturbing.

In the past few weeks, I’ve been on a kick where I am watching lots of badge cam videos on YouTube. Sometimes, the police post them or they appear on local news channels. Many come from Active Self Protection, Donut Operator (my favorite because of his irreverent sense of humor) or another YouTuber.

I think these videos can be highly educational, and I shared that with a buddy of mine who has taught in multiple police academies. He told me it can take years for video from an actual police shootout to appear in a training program. In large agencies, such as where he works, they may wait until a Federal agency releases a training video on that incident and then use it. That way, they can claim they train their officers “to the same standards as federal law enforcement.”

My advice to any LEOs out there is to watch as many of these as possible. You may never be in an officer-involved shooting, but why not learn from what happened to others? This goes to preppers, too. Watch the badge cam, carjacking, store robbery and other videos to see why it can be dangerous buying gas, shopping at a convenience store or just being at the wrong place at the wrong time.

First Impressions

My initial thoughts after watching more than fifty of these videos are:

I see instances where the police are perhaps too aggressive and engage in behavior that increases the stress level of all participants. Some officers are amped up and make no attempt to de-escalate a situation. They need better training.

Likewise, police often engage in dangerous high-speed chases in an attempt to catch relatively petty criminals. We don’t need cars running red lights and careening through intersections or veering into the wrong lanes so you can catch someone who threatened his baby momma. You know who the culprit is and where they live, so let the bad boyfriend got for now and catch them later at home. If I had to guess, I would say too many people on both sides of the badge have been watching moves with big chase scenes and playing too many video games. There is no respawn on the mean streets and a speeding car can kill officers and innocents as well as bullets do.

On the other hand, there are plenty of scenarios where the police have pulled a motorist over for a legitimate reason and are being polite when they suddenly face a hail of gunfire. Usually, it’s because the driver has outstanding warrants or large quantities of drugs in the car and doesn’t want to go back to jail.

There is no right answer. Come out shooting or come out smiling; either can get you filled with lead if you aren’t paying attention. That’s the key: Pay attention, don’t let your guard down, and be ready for anything.

Second Impressions

There are also many episodes where police are threatened, attacked, or shot at by mentally disturbed people. Perhaps those folks complaining that police shouldn’t have shot someone because they were mentally ill should watch a few of these videos. They might better understand why mental illness is not an excuse for pointing a gun at the police.

It also bothers me when someone calls 911 is because their drug-addled son, drunk husband, or angry ex are threatening them and act surprised when he acts violent with the police and ends up shot. You were the ones that told the police he was violent and/or armed. What did you think was going to happen? That they would tranquilize him like they did when he was at the psych ward? That doesn’t happen on the street, especially if he has a machete or a gun. Best case, he complies and they arrest him peacefully. Mid-case is he gets tased and then arrested. Worst case he gets shot. It depends on how he behaves.

Lots of Bullets

Most of you reading this are not law enforcement, but these crimes spill out everywhere and citizens get hurt. You need to be alert not only to police sirens, but to bullet noises. The next time I am in a city and a police car shows up with lights and siren, I am not just going to pull over. I’m going to get myself out of a potential line of fire by turning onto a cross street as soon as possible. How many criminals and even police shoot from or at moving vehicles astounds me. Sometimes 40 or 60 bullets go flying in these cases; put a brick wall or a few blocks between you and the gunfire.

When I read a novel or watch a movie in which there is a lengthy gunfight, I think to myself, “That’s an exaggeration.” After seeing videos from actual gunfights in which five or more officers engage in a running gunfight with two or three perps over several blocks in which most people involved mag dump to no apparent effect, I will no longer think it is an exaggeration.

When shot at, the police do a good job of getting behind their cruisers, which is how they are trained to act. They don’t always do as good a job hitting their targets, either because the subject is running or too far away. When police use their entire magazine, it is usually because don’t hit the guy.

Training Lessons

Both police and civilian trainers teach to shoot until the bad guy is no longer a threat. Maybe we should temper that so we don’t waste an entire magazine on a target behind cover. I had a trainer who taught us to fire three times and then to move laterally or towards cover. Maybe we should train that way more because if your first five rounds have missed, chances are the next ten or 12 will, too. Break it off, move, take cover, take a steadying breath, and try again with less panic.

Preppers need to train as a team to avoid shooting each other. I saw a female NYC cop shoot her male partner in the back by mistake. Luckily, she hit his vest. Muzzle discipline applies to more than just hunting.


Rifles win gunfights, sometimes with one shot. Yes, they are more powerful, but I expect it is their superior optics that gets the job done. Beyond 15 or 20 yards, it is easier to get a disabling hit with a patrol rifle with a magnifying optic than it is a pistol. Carry a rifle in your vehicle if it is legal to do so. If you find yourself in a gunfight, use your pistol to fight your way to your long gun.

Aim! Sure, you can point-shoot the immediate threat six feet in front of you, but if they are across the street hiding behind a car, you need to take your time and aim. As a cop or a prepper, you can’t afford to shoot to scare them off. You need to shoot to live, and that means killing the guy trying to kill you before he succeeds.

Carry a reload. After the SHTF, carry multiple reloads and/or multiple guns. ASP argues civilian gunfights average four rounds and rarely exceed six. This may be true, but after the SHTF, you are no longer in a civilian world. Everyone will be a combatant.

Condition yellow is a good idea. You need to be on alert and aware of your surroundings at all times, especially when in public. Put your phone away and keep your head on a swivel.

Have a friend or a prepper group. There really is safety in numbers. It can give you the upper hand. Don’t go into a potentially dangerous location or situation, but if you have to do so, take backup.