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50 Years of the McFadden Stop

On The Job

On October 31, 1963, Detective Martin McFadden, age 62 at the time of the incident, took action that would lead to one of the landmark cases in criminal procedure: Terry v. Ohio, 392 U.S. 1 (1968). At the time of the incident, Detective McFadden was a 39 year veteran of the Cleveland Police Department. His career ultimately would span 45 years with 41 of those years as a Detective, and he was noted for his ability to capture thieves and pickpockets especially “Louie the Dip” Finkelstein.

On the day in question, Detective McFadden would spot two individuals (later joined by a third) in front of a store “casing a job, a stick-up”. He had watched the individuals repeatedly walking to a store window, looking inside, and then walking away and conferring. He eventually confronted the individuals and ultimately arrested two of them on weapon’s charges after “frisking” them and finding their pistols.

The individuals were convicted and the case ultimately wound up before the Supreme Court where it was upheld. In short, the Court ruled that the Fourth Amendment reasonableness standard is not violated when a peace officer has a reasonable articulable suspicion (RAS) to conduct an investigatory stop. Two important notes from the ruling was that, first, the Court stated that mere “good faith” of the peace officer is not enough to justify such a stop. ┬áSecond, The Court also drew (and continues to draw) a distinction between that of a person being armed and that of a person being “armed and presently dangerous”. In other cases, the Court has ruled that there is not a firearms exception to the Fourth Amendment and thus their presence alone is no different that a person being in possession of a wallet (an actual example from a Supreme Court ruling).

Since the ruling in this case was handed down, investigatory stops have often been termed as “Terry Stops”. I take umbrage with this. Terry was one of the bad guys. Detective McFadden was the one that put forth some excellent police work; so, we should be calling these “McFadden Stops”, but alas, cops are like offensive lineman in that we only get close-up shots and our number called when forget the snap count or get caught holding.

The concept of reasonable articulable suspicion and the facts of the case are more detailed than what I have condensed here. The purpose of this article is to pay respects to Detective McFadden on the 50th anniversary of the incident.

Special thanks go out to retired Commander Bob Cermack of the Cleveland Police Department and the Cleveland Police Museum for providing pictures of Detective McFadden as well as other documents.

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Detective McFadden at work.

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Detective McFadden at his retirement party.

Obituary 1981
Detective McFadden’s obituary.

FBI Police Firearms Instructor Course

I recently had the opportunity to complete the FBI Police Firearms Instructor Course. In order to attend the course, candidates had to pre-qualify by successfully shooting passing scores on five courses of fire. Three of these courses were shot with duty pistols, one was shot with a patrol rifle, and the other was with a shotgun. I do not know the total number of candidates that applied for the class. On the day that I shot my pre-qualifying rounds, only eight out of 12 of us shot the requisite scores. Twenty-four students qualified and were enrolled in the class. Twenty-three students successfully completed the program.

FBI Firearms Instructor Certificate (1)

The high point of the class, in my opinion, was a block of instruction taught by Frank Proctor. Mr. Proctor is a member of the Unites States Army Special Forces, and he is also a USPSA Grand Master as well as being an IDPA Master. His block was concerned with weapons manipulations and focussed on “processing” what was happening throughout the shooting process. I look forward to being able to take more classes from him in the future.

Tiger McKee also taught a block of instruction on weapons manipulations. I picked up several teaching points from him that I will be incorporating into future classes.

Of the academic blocks, I found a block on Critical Incident Amnesia to be very informative. Of note, this material applies not only to officer involved shootings to both victims of violent crimes and citizens who find themselves in situations in which they must use force. This block is one that will go well beyond the range as it will also come into play when conducting interviews.

There were blocks on many other shooting and academic areas such as law enforcement officers flying while armed, lesson plan development, and ballistics.

As for the overall course itself, in comparison to the Firearms Instructor course at the Georgia Public Safety Training Center, the GPSTC course involved much more teaching of the prospective instructor on how to teach the art of shooting. The FBI course had more of a focus on developing the instructor’s overall firearms knowledge. The GPSTC course was also centered around the pistol with the shotgun being the only other platform utilized in that course whereas the FBI course covered pistol, rifle, shotgun, and, yes, the revolver.

Another area of comparison is that the GPSTC course is taught completely by academy staff, and the program is the same regardless of staff instructor teaching it. The FBI course utilized many area instructors, and it appeared the subject matter could change significantly depending upon the instructors that teach in a particular class. Also, as this particular class was held in Alabama, there was a strong tendency towards the Alabama POST (APOST) standards, which fairly closely mirrored those of the FBI itself. The APOST courses have much more of a focus on longer range accuracy (50 yard shots with the support hand on the revolver course), and they are typically shot on one target. The GA POST standards which have more draws and reloads under time and require shots on multiple targets as well as shots while moving.

Finally, the biggest lesson I took from the course was from a major mistake that I made. Throughout the course, we had a running “Top Gun” competition going. I won several of the individual courses of fire and was very much in the running for the award. The last course that we shot for score in the competition was the rifle course, and here is where I made my error. The last time that I had my rifle out was during a manhunt at night. I flipped the rear aperture to the “low light” aperture. For those unfamiliar, this aperture is much larger to allow the shooter to get more visible light around the all important front sight. It is also often used in “close quarters” situations as it allows for faster sight acquisition. The trade off is that it is much less precise than the smaller aperture. Ultimately, I stored my rifle without flipping back to the smaller aperture and thus I shot the entire rifle course with the wrong aperture and gave up enough points that I finished in third place. The top three places were decided by points to the right of the decimal place.

I do have the satisfaction of being beaten with my own gun as I loaned a revolver to the eventual Top Gun winner after the revolver his agency provided him would not function properly. He is also a member of the U.S. Army Special Forces. I feel pretty good about running down to the wire with one of the elite.

FBI Bullseye Course

FBI Pistol Course

FBI Shotgun Course

FBI Rifle Course

Old APOST Course