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Old December 9, 2007, 09:32 AM   #1
Bellevance
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On Hit Rates in Police Shootings

Excerpt from an interesting piece in today's New York Times.

http://www.nytimes.com/2007/12/09/we...w/09baker.html

Quote:
New York City police statistics show that simply hitting a target, let alone hitting it in a specific spot, is a difficult challenge. In 2006, in cases where police officers intentionally fired a gun at a person, they discharged 364 bullets and hit their target 103 times, for a hit rate of 28.3 percent, according to the department’s Firearms Discharge Report. The police shot and killed 13 people last year.

In 2005, officers fired 472 times in the same circumstances, hitting their mark 82 times, for a 17.4 percent hit rate. They shot and killed nine people that year.

In all shootings — including those against people, animals and in suicides and other situations — New York City officers achieved a 34 percent accuracy rate (182 out of 540), and a 43 percent accuracy rate when the target ranged from zero to six feet away. Nearly half the shots they fired last year were within that distance. In Los Angeles, where there are far fewer shots discharged, the police fired 67 times in 2006 and had 27 hits, a 40 percent hit rate, which, while better than New York’s, still shows that they miss targets more often they hit them.

Bad marksmanship? Police officials and law enforcement experts say no, contending that the number of misses underscores the tense and unpredictable nature of these situations. For example, a 43 percent hit rate for shots fired from zero to six feet might seem low, but at that range it is very likely that something has already gone wrong: perhaps an officer got surprised, or had no cover, or was wrestling with the suspect.

“When you factor in all of the other elements that are involved in shooting at an adversary, that’s a high hit rate,” said Raymond W. Kelly, the New York police commissioner. “The adrenaline flow, the movement of the target, the movement of the shooter, the officer, the lighting conditions, the weather ... I think it is a high rate when you consider all of the variables.”

John C. Cerar, a retired commander of the New York Police Department’s firearms training section, was more tempered in his assessment of the hit rates. “They’re acceptable,” he said. “In pristine conditions, you are going to get better hit ratios.” He said handguns were an imperfect weapon. “As long as the handgun is the main tool for the police officers to use, you are going to have misses,’’ he said.
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Old December 9, 2007, 09:53 AM   #2
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Hit or Miss?

I would agree that in certain situations, stress, lighting conditions, all other ambient & factors would lend to what these numbers represent.

Another factor to consider might be that not all police officers are "into" the gun culture as many of us are that frequent sites such as this. The vast majority of police only fire their duty weapons when qualifying each year, how many times is whatever their department mandates.

If you take the small percent of Tactical officers, and smart street officers they are proficient with all the weapons they carry, the percentages go way up.

It's rather disingenuous to represent these #'s off any article quoted from the New York Times....


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Old December 9, 2007, 10:00 AM   #3
Marty Hayes
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The training that the rank and file NYPD gets is not reflective of the type of training that most officers get throughout the year in most other police departments. The last time I looked at the NYPD training, they shot once a year, at a stationary target. If I am wrong here, someone with more information please correct me.

What is known about police shootings, is that the better the training, the higher the hit ratio.

I follow police shootings in WA state pretty closely, and I would estimate the hit ration in WA state is up around 90%, with many less shots fired per encounter.
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Old December 9, 2007, 10:40 AM   #4
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I hate the new york times. It's a propaganda rag.

Wonder what their intentions are with this article. Does this infer that us regular Joes should not carry as cops can't even hit a target?
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Old December 9, 2007, 11:11 AM   #5
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The NYPD has always had a lousy hit rate--somewhere between 8-17% in actual gunfights ( as opposed to suicides, homicides and dogs)
Actually some of my friends on the job tell me that it is worse than reported.
For example, 6 cops may surround a car and open up with a full magazine each, yet the number of shots officially listed in 5-10.
Yes..they only get to qualify once a year on a stationary target from 3-25 yards.
Personally I think the problem is a lack of realistic training as opposed to anything else.
Then again, the NYPD nearly always wins their gunfights with minimal good guy casualties and bystanders are hardly ever hit by stray bullets.
Perhaps we NY'ers are good at ducking?
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Old December 9, 2007, 11:23 AM   #6
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I'm no fan of the New York Times either but if you follow the link in the originating post and read the entire article you may have a different take on the intent and purpose. I didn't find it inflamatory at all.

As for the hit ratios, well, folks do tend to get all riled up about it when they find out how many rounds do not hit the perp during an Officer involved shooting. If an individual department 's ratio is anywhere above 20% they are doing well (not that the department should not strive to improve it). As for Officers in Washington State having a 90% hit ratio, I will hestitate to call BS on that because it was not stated as a fact just as an estimate. I will say however that if that were the case it would be so extrordinary that documentation should abound. I would love to read some.

Lots of things come into play in these situations and usually in combination. Low light, close range, rapid movement, perp on drugs, shock that this is actually happening, fear, anger, pain. The perp usually has the drop and has decided to hurt or kill you before you know he does. You are already behind the 8 ball. Situational awareness has quite a bit to do with all this but it ain't magic. Folks can armchair quarterback all they want but I absolutely guarantee you the song would change the first time some ninny had to get in a scrap with some crackhead round about 2 am. Ask them then how they think they would do if it degenerated into a shooting.
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Old December 9, 2007, 11:38 AM   #7
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Last I heard was the hit ratio was around 18%....
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Old December 9, 2007, 11:59 AM   #8
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I get tired of reading and hearing about the tired, old "police are lousy shots" stuff. We only eat donuts too, after all, everyone knows that . There are a lot of reasons for misses, mainly the conditions in which police gunfights take place. I would another important and often overlooked reason is that the bad guy usually gets the first shot making conditions less than ideal for the officer having to return fire.
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Old December 9, 2007, 01:46 PM   #9
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A lot more goes into shooting somenoe than being a good shot! Training is great but it must be the right kind of training. There is a reason the Marines train the way they do, They put recruits under a kind of stress that you wont get in a weekend warrior school. Same with all the special ops people. If you can think under stress you can act under stress. You must keep your mind clear and be able to think as well as react. Speed is one thing that is important but not at the expense of hitting your target. A fast miss means nothing. On the same hand you dont want to get shot trying to draw a fine bead.
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Old December 9, 2007, 02:13 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jhenry
As for Officers in Washington State having a 90% hit ratio, I will hestitate to call BS on that because it was not stated as a fact just as an estimate. I will say however that if that were the case it would be so extrordinary that documentation should abound.
Not necessarily, though you might be able to dig some out if you looked hard enough. Marty's got good LEO contacts throughout the state, however, and I'd trust his eyeball estimate in the absence of more compelling data to the contrary.

Here's a quote from a typical study, published in August of 2005 and reported at http://www.policeone.com/writers/col...ticles/117909/

Quote:
An ex-cop with 23 years' training experience, Aveni now heads the Police Policy Studies Council, a research, training and consulting corporation based in Spofford, NH, and is a member of FSRC's National Advisory Board, as well as a busy expert witness in police litigation. Like other trainers, he says, he "made a lot of assumptions that are not true" until his research provided "an epiphany for me" about some of the nuances of police shootings.

He was struck first by how tough it is to find out anything meaningful on the subject from law enforcementagencies. Most don't compile detailed data on their shootings, fearing in some cases (perhaps rightly) that it would be misinterpreted and misused by the media and "agenda activists" if available. Of the few departments that do collect deadly force information, "even fewer freely share it," Aveni claims. If they don't outright suppress it, they tend to present it in bare-bones, "sterilized table formats" that have no standardized consistency and that "make detailed analysis difficult." Aveni observes: "The devil is in the details, and the details of police shootings have always been lost."

After refusals to cooperate by a variety of agencies, he finally was able to secure 350 investigative narratives of officer-involved shootings in Los Angeles County, CA. These concerned incidents experienced primarily by L.A. County Sheriff's deputies, plus cases investigated by LASD for smaller municipal agencies, across a 5-year period.

Aveni spent more than 6 months dissecting that material according to different variables. That information, combined with limited statistics he managed to obtain related to shootings on other major departments, including New York City, Baltimore County (MD), Miami, Portland (OR) and Washington (DC), has allowed him to spotlight a number of deadly force subtleties that have not been so thoroughly examined before.

For example, it has long been believed that officers overall have a dismal 15-25 percent hit probability in street encounters, suggesting truly poor performance under the stress of a real shooting situation. Actually, this figure, while essentially true in the aggregate, is markedly skewed by certain shooting variables, Aveni found.

During a 13-year span, the Baltimore County PD, which Aveni regards as one of the best trained in the country, achieved an average hit ratio of 64 percent in daylight shootings - not ideal, but clearly much better than commonly believed. In shootings that occurred in low-light surroundings, however, average hits dropped to 45 percent, a 30 percent decline. The data from Los Angeles County (LAC) reveals a somewhat comparable 24 percent decline.
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Old December 9, 2007, 02:28 PM   #11
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I am not defending the police, but only those who have been in shoot outs should be able to comment. Paper targets stand still and dont shoot back or come at you. You can practice all you want, but the first time you get shot at it will not be anything like the "practice" you are used to. Best way I could describe it would be to go rabbit hunting with your carry or duty weapon (I do it all the time). THey zig and you zag, twigs, branches, trees get in the way, and if you do it without a dog, and start from the holster you get used to the surprise of draw, sight and shoot. It realy works, go try it............

And try and keep track of your hits and misses, all bets are on you will miss more than you hit.....
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Old December 9, 2007, 04:16 PM   #12
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Just a few comments on the issue:
NYPD training is fairly typical for LE training across the country, AFAIK. Some places are better, some are worse, but it is within the norm.
"Hit rates" are not always "hit rates." Always look at how the term is defined and what is included. One agency might define the hit rate as number of BG hit thta they shot at, another agency might define it as the number of bullets hit out of the total fired, and various other combinations.
The data reported is from the NYPD, which is one of the best in the business about collecting and analyzing that stuff. The fact that it was reported in the Times doesn't alter the data.
I too would doubt the 90% hit rate from Washington State, with all due respect to Marty who I think is one of the better trainers out there today. The problem is that unless one can really get into the official data it is very difficult, if not impossible, to get an accurate set of numbers.
Fortunately, as Matt points out, the good guys end up winning most of the time, low hit rate and all!
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Old December 9, 2007, 04:57 PM   #13
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When an officer gets into a shooting it is a dire situation. Sometimes he is beeing shot at or someone elses life is threatened. Conditions are not ideal like they are at the range. I wonder how good we would be if someone was shooting at us? The LAPD qualifies once a month and they remain profieient. But when the du du hits the fan, a lot of cops miss.
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Old December 9, 2007, 05:22 PM   #14
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Of interesting note, while depts count the number of rounds fired and the number of hits on bad guys, they don't always consider the number of rounds fired. For example, in one incident, the Texas Department of Public safety fired 30+ shots from pistols and long guns at short range in one incident without hitting their suspect. Sounds bad, but they were shooting truck tire to disable an 18 wheeler. Those will be 30+ shots that didn't hit the suspect.

Quote:
Not necessarily, though you might be able to dig some out if you looked hard enough. Marty's got good LEO contacts throughout the state, however, and I'd trust his eyeball estimate in the absence of more compelling data to the contrary.

Here's a quote from a typical study, published in August of 2005 and reported at http://www.policeone.com/writers/col...ticles/117909/
So I take it that in Washington State, the general cop population overall is better than the Baltimore PD, reputed to be one of the best in the country? Just what is the entire WA state police population doing that is not being done in the rest of the country?
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Old December 9, 2007, 05:30 PM   #15
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The NYPD rookies suck IMHO.....many of them get out of the academy all
gung ho and ready for their power trip.....

come on, whats with the low hit rates?

and if they are not "gun buffs" like we are then they should probably get another job...I see too many rookies on the street that look like they just barely completed community college, and that they had nowhere else to go....

In a field where your life is at risk, or where you have a duty to serve and protect others, your pistol is your friend, what good is it if you dont know how to use it?

I recall an incident that occurred in brooklyn a few months ago when a russian cop was shot in the mouth while making a routine traffic stop. (3 car theives were in a stolen BMW X5) His partner responded by firing like 10-13 times and guess what??? None of the bullets hit!!!!!!

When I read this on the news I was ****** cuz what if there were bystanders
in the background, or what if the cops bullet ripped thru somebody's house??

The way I see it as a cop, If I'm gonna fire my weapon, my goal would to make a kill...not to miss...
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Old December 9, 2007, 05:35 PM   #16
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The remainder of the article details some of the inherent difficulties with data collection, difficulties which you yourself refer to in your initial paragraph.

As with so many other demographic data-collection efforts, almost everything depends upon how you define your terms at the outset.

*shrug* As I said, absent compelling evidence to the contrary, I'll take Marty's eyeball estimate over even the most rigorous study that may not be measuring the same things with the same definitions.

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Old December 9, 2007, 09:55 PM   #17
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pax, that is nice and all. I just want to know how it is that cops in WA are so much better than everyone else. What are they doing that is so special and doing it on a statewide basis that other departments, let alone states, have yet to figure out?

Or, is marty's method of estimating somehow different from how the other ranges of stats are compiled?
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Old December 9, 2007, 11:02 PM   #18
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I have been to a few qualifications for S.O.s' and have worked with many cops over the years. The number who do not practice on their own is staggering. Perhaps understandable. Police work is not a high paying job, shooting is not a cheap hobby.

Still cops make more than I do and I get my big butt to the range. Since I keep guns handy for HD I consider it a duty to get as much practice as I can.

I have not actually had to fire under stress, but I have come close. I count myself lucky that the other actors decided not to push the envelope. I can say that knowing I can put a shot on target gives a great deal of confidence when push comes to shove.

How do I know this? When I started in Security I was a 260 score of 300 type of shooter. I did not practice. I remember the fear the first time I had a whiff of adrenaline. All of my rounds did not find the massive B27 on the range. That did not help calm me down.

After that I read, read some more and practiced until I shoot High 280s to 300 with anything and everything. I sought informal and formal training.

May not sound like much, but it made a difference to me. I honestly believe the confidence is a turn off to BGs in some cases.

I can not help but wonder what would happen if agencies pursued marksmanship, training, and tactics instead of the latest pistol/round/load to tickle fancies.

People say you don't know what you will do when SHTF until it happens. Perhaps they are right. I like what Colonel Cooper said about that:"Within a small margin of error, one will do what one has trained to do" and "In a crisis you do not rise to the occasion, you default to your training".

Once or twice a year just does not cut it. Every 90 days is a joke. Once a month is enough to stay familiar with your weapon. Once a week and you start to see steady improvement until you reach your potential.

What if every cop followed Bill Hickock's example. Emptied all mags into targets before every shift, cleaned and loaded the weapon before going to work. I bet we would see more hits and eventually fewer bad guys willing to throw down with the blues.

I agree that the range is not combat. But if you can't get it done at the range........
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Old December 9, 2007, 11:48 PM   #19
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I dont know, I wonder what kid of rigorous training do swat team members have to go thru?

Is the SWAT team supposed to be comprised of elite, higly trained cops, who are marksmen at using their weapons?

IMHO, I think every LEO, cop, sheriff should be subjected to this kind of training.....

kinda like the US Marine Corps philosophy of "every man a rifleman"

anyhow, I hope to see our police officers perform better on the job when the situation presses them to use deadly force.... by this I mean when they draw their weapon and pull the trigger, every shot should count and land on the intended target.....

IMHO, I dont want to hear of of read anymore stories where a cop unloads 2 full magazines and not land one shot... for this I would be very embarassed to call myself a cop...
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Old December 9, 2007, 11:48 PM   #20
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I have talked to some officers here where I live and found that most only fire their firearms when they have to. Most have no real training in high stress situations when they do fire them. Most lack training, lack of funds and most just not into firearms.
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Old December 10, 2007, 12:11 AM   #21
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Paper target training alone wont get it done. You have to train under stress. You can shoot paper all you want and be a great shot but give me a guy who can operate under stress and you have a guy who will win a gunfight every time. All the plans go right out the window when the crap hits the blades. Its your training that takes over and the better the trainin the better the results. I get a kick out of the guys who go to the weekend warrior camps and think they are Rambo JR. It just does not work that way!
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Old December 10, 2007, 12:49 AM   #22
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Having been in the biz for some twenty five years now...

I can at least make some observations. (And a Federal Judge once took judicial notice of the fact I am edumacated and can count to at least six. How many of you can say that?)

Most troops working for law enforcement agencies are not shooters, let alone good shots. The men and women on this forum - the lawmen, I mean - are probably very good shots, and head and shoulders and armpits above the average. Most agencies train to a minimum level of competence to be able to say "Our people are trained to the demanding standards set by [fill in the demanding authority here]". But any more training that that is hard on the budget. It takes both budget money and troops off the line. Bad juju to the bean counters and 'administrators'. (If any 'administrator bean counters' are reading this, I'm sorry to sound so critical, but you all know damn good and well I'm telling the truth.)

On the other hand, when it comes to shooting, consider this: Shooting at paper targets that don't move and don't shoot back is a limited skill; but if one cannot connect reliably with a stationary target, one is certainly not going to do better with a hostile, moving target. Unless one is far more lucky than I, or has the magic shooting fairy in one's pocket to bonk one on the head with the magic 'now you can shoot' wand. I for one, will not make book on that bet.

I still maintain a good portion of the problem is the weaponry issued. Far too many people (lawmen and laymen alike, not excluding lawwomen and laywomen) have the I've-got-fifteen-shots-I'm-bound-to-hit-something theory of shooting in mind. Some actually admit it.

If'n I was emperor, I'd issue them all cap and ball guns. When any of them could hit reliably, I'd move the ones so meriting up to cartridge guns.
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Old December 10, 2007, 02:04 AM   #23
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Hit Rates in Police Shooting Incidents

Separate from all the other issues of being in a gunfight, such as sudden attack, low light, multiple assailants, shooting while moving, shooting at a moving target, etc. the amount of firearms & tactics training that police receive varies greatly from State to State and Department to Department.

Some agencies only shoot once a year. Some bianually or quarterly (which is what's common in my county) and others do training once a month. How the training is conducted, what the round count is, and how much tactical training is incorporated varies significantly.

For learning skills, distributed practice is better than mass practice, i.e. 150 rnds quarterly is probably better for skill development than shooting 600 rnds in one session once a year.

Some departments do role playing training with AirSoft or FX Simunitions. Others don't because they don't have funding to purchase the equipment, or their administration may not be interested or understand the benefits of such training.

Lots of departments don't have the budget to conduct comprehensive training themselves, and instead combine with other local agencies for in-service training. (That can work pretty well as long as each training session is properly planned in advance. "We'll make it up as we go along" can kind of work if you limit the training to just marksmanship exercises (provided that your instructors are competent and have a good file of courses to work from) but doing training involving building searches or high risk vehicle stops or response to the active shooter takes more coordination to locate an appropriate facility for the training and an adequate supply of properly briefed role-players.)

Training is one of the first things that gets cut when the budget gets tight or staffing levels drop.

In general, the more training the cops get, the better they should perform, provided that the training is of reasonable quality. HOWEVER not everybody absorbs the material and benefits from the training process. (As one guy I used to work with often said "They can order me to go, they can't order me to learn.") Some people just shouldn't be the police.
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Old December 10, 2007, 02:51 AM   #24
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MygunsJammed
anyhow, I hope to see our police officers perform better on the job when the situation presses them to use deadly force.... by this I mean when they draw their weapon and pull the trigger, every shot should count and land on the intended target.....
First, it ain't gonna happen. Why? First, because as long as we use handguns and things get hairy for the cop's life, he's gonna miss occasionally. Secondarily, you aren't willing to pay for it. Yes.. you. And me and your neighbor. The amount of time spent training is paid time not on patrol. And to perform at a level where your miss rate in dire circumstances is below 10% requires a LOT of training. Governments don't have the budget for it and rarely the manpower.

Quote:
I have talked to some officers here where I live and found that most only fire their firearms when they have to. Most have no real training in high stress situations when they do fire them. Most lack training, lack of funds and most just not into firearms.
Sadly, I think you'll find a lot of police officers are this way. They practice enough to know they'll pass qual and that's it. For most of 'em, firing the gun at the range also means that messy cleaning time when they'd rather be having a beer in front of those NFL cheerleaders.

Archie +1 well said.

I once proposed to our local PD training captain (at a nice BBQ) that he could save a pile of money, which got his attention. Rookies should be issued .38 Special M&P's as their duty weapon until they can shoot better than 75% on a rigorous course of fire. Then they graduate to .357 Magnum, like a 686, until they can fire 75% with duty ammo. Guys who can do that get to graduate to carrying their issue Sig .40. but have to maintain a minimum of 70% or they drop back to the .357. The advantage was that .38 ammo can be had cheap and .357 reloads emulating service ammo can be made up fairly cheap too. For officers wanting more practice, let them buy their own ammo at cost thru the dept. This way, you force the officers to "compete" to be allowed to carry a Sig pistol but they have to maintain ability to stay there. Into the bargain, the cops with six-shooters have to learn to hit their targets without spray & pray tactics. They learn to use their guns effectively instead of like a freakin' hose!

What was the response? "That'd make a shambles of our policy on ammo interchangeabilty! We can't have different calibers in the field!"

I asked him how many firefights he personally knew of where officers gave another officer extra ammo. I dunno about you guys, but if my partner just squandered 18 .357 rounds without effect and wants more, he can have the shotgun instead. This would be even worse if he'd gone through three 12-17 round magazines without scoring a hit. Why the hell should I give him one of my magazines when he can't hit squat?

But what stunned me was his ignorant retort to that idea - Well, revolvers are so unreliable, we can't use those for duty! I found out later that this particular captain grew up with autoloaders for duty and had never fired a revolver. Why confuse him with facts?

Oddly enough, during the time when police were transitioning to pistols from revolvers, it was the mark of a "seasoned veteran" to see a wheelgun in the holster. New graduates were being given 9mm's while the senior guys could still carry their .357's. Some agencies completely transistioned to autos, but allowed the senior guys to carry 1911's if they qualified with them. But standing around a bunch of cops you could tell who the real shooters were -- no 9mm in the holster.
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Old December 10, 2007, 06:34 AM   #25
Jeff22
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Join Date: September 15, 2004
Location: Madison, Wisconsin
Posts: 582
police shooting incidents

"Shooting at paper targets that don't move and don't shoot back is a limited skill; but if one cannot connect reliably with a stationary target, one is certainly not going to do better with a hostile, moving target." (from Archie)

ABSOLUTELY!! If they can't perform to a high level on the square range in the training environment, they probably won't do very well in the midst of a gunfight at 2 in the morning. Conversely, just because you CAN perform well on regular marksmanship drills doesn't necessarily mean that you'll do well out on the street, it just means that you've begun the journey to mastering the necessary skills.

There are always budget limitations in most any training activity that the police or military services are involved in. Some agencies have lots of money and others can barely keep their squad cars running, and most are somewhere in between.

And there are usually staffing issues as well -- anybody in training is NOT on duty answering calls. If your agency is running at a staffing level significantly below what is required, you won't be going to any specialized training and regular inservice training may be condensed or eliminated.
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