7 Minutes of Life and Death


7 Minutes of Life and Death

By George Demetriou

My deepest sympathy goes out to the family of New Orleans Police Department Officer Nicola Cotton.  Officer Cotton, 24 years old, was shot and killed with her firearm last Monday.  Nicola was working alone and responding to a possible wanted rape suspect.  Officer Cotton approached the suspect, attempted to handcuff him and a fight ensued.  News reports have the fight going on for 7 minutes.

Turns out that Officer Cotton was 2 months pregnant, the suspect was not the person wanted for the rape, but was an emotionally disturbed person who was brought to a mental facility two weeks before he killed Officer Cotton.  The man was taken to a mental facility because he was “a danger to the public”.

Officer Cotton was able to call for backup during the struggle.  I will not get into the topic of procedure and I will not Monday morning quarterback.  I don’t know enough about the NOPD, Officer Cotton or the circumstances.  I will say officer Cotton must have been quite brave and if the fight lasted 7 minutes she must have fought hard.  Her attacker was twice her size and nearly twice her age.

This incident is a raw reminder of what kind of conditioning is required of cops.  There is more information available regarding fitness now then at any other time in history.  There are more facilities to train in as well.  I don’t know the level of Officer Cotton’s physical conditioning and won’t speculate.  Officer Cotton’s death should be a wake up call for those who are not training and those who are training, but not for the rigors of a life and death struggle.

Cops need sound tactics which are trained for under the stressful conditions that simulate real fights, the proper mind-set for combat and physical conditioning that is ideal for a fight with a duration of 10 seconds, 30 seconds, a minute, 7 minutes or an event the length of the infamous North Hollywood shooting with 2 heavily armed bank robbers.

Cops who do no physical training once they leave the academy are doing themselves, their partners and the community they serve a disservice.  Cops who train like body builders or marathon runners have good intentions, but are not preparing themselves for a life and death fight.  ANY subject control situation can turn into a life and death fight.

If police work involves getting out of a car, chasing someone(sprinting), catching them(grip strength),pulling, pushing, striking, grappling, taking the person to the ground, having to get up off the ground and having to retain the tools of a duty belt(explosive movements, core strength and body control) including a firearm which, during a fight, is as close to the bad guy as it is to the officer,  then cops need to train using the exercises and equipment that most resemble the movements and function of real life.  Real fights have nothing to do with long, slow runs and little to do with body building training.

I’ve watched video of two officers, in separate incidents,  being murdered.  Murdered by an individual or individuals who were smaller and not in the shape of the officers they killed.  In each incident the actual violence lasted less than 20 seconds.  In those seconds the motion by all individuals involved were explosive, intense and utilized whole body movement.  Absent were motions that are slow, evenly paced or body-part isolated. Between the two incidents one could see pushing, pulling, punching, kicking, squatting, and a get-up.  The functional real life movements that are supported by CrossFit workouts.

The North Hollywood incident lasted in the vicinity of 30 minutes.  That wasn’t 30 minutes of slow, steady paced running.  That was 30 minutes of brief intervals of extremely intense work combined with intervals of rest.  The work consisted of sprinting from cover to cover or from cover to assisting a wounded person, shooting, reloading, holstering, moving, pulling a person to safety, more sprinting and trying to keep an eye on the bad guys who had the officers out-gunned.  Once again, we observed action that didn’t resemble the typical jog or gym workout.  We did see action that is supported by the CrossFit methodology.

A friend once commented that being in a life and death struggle is similar to being in a world class athletic event.  It stands to reason that those in the noble profession of law enforcement should train like they will be involved in a world class athletic event.  Cops need intense workouts that require physical and mental toughness.  Cops don’t get to pick the time, place or circumstances of the life and death fight.  The bad guys make that determination.  There are many things officers have no control over.  One of the things police officers always have control of is their level of fitness.  Police officers should strive not for fitness, but for elite fitness.

Stay Safe.

Posted by George.

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