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Monday, September 04, 2006


A few decades back, I was priviledged to have been chosen for a special training session, held in Sweden. Made the flight from California to NYC and then on to Bonn, Germany. I flew 747's the entire way and, of course, I traveled "coach". "Coach" back then was much nicer than it is now. Had to leave my firearm at home, but I was allowed to take my switchblade, my sap gloves (black leather gloves with 6-oz (141.75 grams) of powdered lead over the knuckles) and my mace. No problem, as long as I had my badge and ID card. The world was very different then. Rented a BMW motorcycle and rode north to Denmark.

Now , I was just a good ol' country boy and didn't realize that the German autobahn police really frowned on people stopping along the edge of the highway to take pictures of the beautiful scenery.

I was merrily snapping pics when this Porsche pulled out of traffic, behind my bike. I didn't read German but I could tell by the markings that this had to be some sort of cop car. I watched in amazement as this huge German equivalent of the CHP got out of his car. He just kept unfolding himself from the vehicle until he reached his full height of about 6'-9" (205.74 cm). I was impressed. Towering over lil' ol' 5'-8" (172.72 cm) me, in his gorgeous white tunic and white helmet. His partner remained in the Porsche. They obviously did traffic stops differently here than in California. Luckily, he spoke english, and we had a nice chat about our jobs. He liked my seven point star badge and noted that I was wearing western boots. He asked if the Sheriffs still rode horses in the west. That was to be a common question during my trip. Probably because I always wore western style clothing, when off-duty, back then. He gave a very gentle admonishment about stopping on the autobahn and let me continue on.

Crossed into Denmark and took the ferry to Sweden.

When we were not in class, we were given tours of Stockholm. A few of the normal tourist sites but mostly cop related. At one point we met with the palace guard and they demonstrated their prowness with their sidearms at a gun range. Just like our training, they would "toe" the line and then draw and fire when the whistle was blown. They were some of the best shots I have ever met. One was visibly upset with his performance when he nicked the target's "X-Ring" rather than having all his shots within a half-inch (1.27 cm) of the center "X". Geez, all I ever cared about was getting all my shots in the "kill zone". Sadly, their firearm's technique would have killed most of them where I was from. Their holsters had a flap over the weapon and the weapon was connected to their uniform shirt by a lanyard. When the whistle was blown, they would draw their semi-automatic pistol, take very careful aim and click off the first round. The first shot was never quicker than two seconds after the whistle. On my streets, they would have been dead about 1.7 seconds. In our combat training, that first shot was usually within 0.2-0.3 seconds from the whistle and was always in the "kill zone". If you took longer than that, in my real world, you would most likely be dead. In our training you had seven seconds to fire six rounds, reload, and fire six more (12 total) and every shot had better be in that "kill zone" or you wouldn't qualify on the range for that month and could be suspended from duty until you did get a passing score.

The trip was educational and fun.

From some of the after hours drinking sessions, I determined that the Swedish word "skoal" must be a requiem for your liver.

While not my first visit to Europe, I had grown up as an "Air Force brat" all over the world, it was the first time there as a adult and I had a blast. Took a lot of pictures, which have vanished over the years, but the memories are still clear.


"Let's all be careful out there!"


Brent said...

I attended a homicide convention in New York and had the opportunity to meet officers from Russia, England, Scotland and other countries. It was amazing the different tactics taken when dealing with suspects. Especially in England. I don't know why they don't have officers killed around the clock!!

Barry said...

I have a few friends that are Swedish cops - they seemed a little more practical, but then, they had lots of international experience.

Tropical Screamer said...

I, too, have wondered how any of the officers in England survive.

Wil, do you go to a range here on Maui?


CharterJames said...

How big is the kill zone and at what range?

Just curious.

I've fired a handgun only once in my life btw.

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