It was difficult for me to absorb everything in the first viewing of Smokin' Aces (2006), so, I had to watch it couple more times. But each time, this scene in particular surprised me.

The scene where a lady contract killer (Alicia Keys) is cornered in an elevator when Police/agents are approaching and she signals her friend who is in another building at least a kilometer away holding a sniper rifle, to take care of the guys approaching her.

When she signaled, the sniper starts blazing and immediately couple of agents go down. Now, to my utter disbelief, the Police starts shooting randomly at the building without even knowing the snipers exact location.

I thought, didn't it occur to the writers, if the police starts firing back randomly, the civilians would get hurt?

Maybe this question sounds trivial because it's a movie but I would like to know, how the Police in real life would handle the situation? Would they have reacted the same way as in the movie or was that a bit too inaccurate a depiction of police work?

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    "..how the Police in real life would handle the situation?" Probably like real people. I.E. being fairly logical most of the time, and full on crazy illogical at other times (e.g when panicked). The 'getting shot at & randomly dropping' would tend to move them towards the latter state.. Commented Oct 19, 2015 at 12:49
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    If we're talking about real police in the real world, it doesn't seem like a film question.
    – DA.
    Commented Oct 19, 2015 at 15:42
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    @AndrewThompson You're dead right but usually, film makers have ways of signaling to the audience when it's a case like this where the characters are doing something panicked, abnormal, reckless, or otherwise not correct procedure Commented Oct 19, 2015 at 15:44
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    @DA "realism"
    – madmada
    Commented Oct 19, 2015 at 21:53
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    @madmada that seems like an extremely broad topic...as all those questions seem to show. :)
    – DA.
    Commented Oct 19, 2015 at 22:54

1 Answer 1


First of all I would like to say that I'm not a police officer so what I say should be taken with a grain of salt. My answer is based mostly on the experiences of family members who are police officers, my time in the military, and a dash of common sense.

tl;dr They would find cover, and call for back-up. They would not fire randomly.

  • Finding cover and calling for back-up increases the odds they will be able to come home safely.
  • Standing and shooting randomly increases the odds they will be killed or thrown in jail. Those things are on the bottom of every police officer's list of things to do today.

You are correct. Police officers aren't going to randomly start shooting unless:

  • They're so terrified they lose all rational thought AND forget their training.


  • They have such poor judgment that they never should have been police officers, and somehow slipped through the screening process.

Contrary to popular belief a police officer's primary job isn't to "protect and serve" the population at large. Their primary job is to come home safely to their family even though they are frequently called into dangerous and life threatening situations. Everything else comes second.

To answer your question what would a police officer reasonably do in that situation....

  1. They would attempt to find cover, or at the very least concealment, and encourage others to do the same, from the sniper once they realize the sniper is hidden and/or a significant distance away.
  2. After this was achieved, but possibly while they were finding cover/concealment, they would radio for help with their best guess of the sniper's location. In big cities it isn't uncommon for there to be systems in place that will actually triangulate the position of a shooter acoustically. If present that system will be used to help the emergency response team along with any information the police officers on the scene provide.
  3. Once the police have cover, and have radioed for backup, they will continue to assess the situation.

The tactic you describe is called: Suppressive Fire. This is a technique used by the military but not the police. The police have a dramatically different mission. The rules of engagement and risk tolerance for police departments reflect this difference.

  • This is exactly I'm looking for. Your answer is very educational, thank you. Commented Oct 21, 2015 at 4:59

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