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One Second That Changed an Officer's Life

NCJ Number
Law Enforcement Trainer Volume: 13 Issue: 6 Dated: November-December 1998 Pages: 12-16-18
M Applegate
Date Published
6 pages
When New Mexico State Police Officer Mike Applegate was held hostage by the driver of a speeding car he stopped, he learned several lessons that other police officers can use to promote their safety.
The incident occurred in May 1988. The driver was a young, clean-cut white male wearing tennis shoes, shorts, and a tee-shirt. The driver got out of his car and started to approach Applegate. Applegate told him to go back to the car. The driver grabbed a gun and yelled at Applegate to freeze. Applegate remained calm and positioned himself so that the in-car camera could record whatever was going to happen. At one point he grabbed for the gun but missed; he realized that he did not have a backup plan. He then tried to run away, but slipped on an embankment and fell on his gun side. The perpetrator caught him. Another police officer arrived; the perpetrator used Applegate as a human shield. He forced Applegate to enter the car, where two females were waiting. The backup officer radioed ahead for a roadblock, which helped resolve the situation without injuries. Applegate learned several lessons that other police officers can use. The first lesson is for police officers never to let their guard down, regardless of how normal and non-threatening a person appears to be. Second, they should train to escape from different situations. Finally, they should think ahead and have a backup plan in case the first tactic they use is ineffective. Photographs