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Old May 15, 2010, 05:01 PM   #1
kokopelli
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This is sad...PD firearms qualifications

In these days of budget crunches and 'P.C'. projects taking the spotlight on what tax dollars are spent, I can't help but feel that the public is getting the short end of the stick, as it were in regards to being 'protected and served'.

-I work for a large metro police department with ~1,200 sworn officers. Without going into a lengthy rant on what's going on within the city and the department, I just wanted to get other's opinions on our agency's firearms training.

We qualify two times a year with our duty weapons. TWICE a year. That's it. For the vast majority of the officers, this is the ONLY time they fire their weapons- they don't shoot independently, which I can't understand. Anyway, our Spring quals were just finished up- this years course? 20 rounds fired. Total. -Standing.

I'm sorry, but I personally feel like this is a problem. When we are held responsible to be proficient with a weapon that we carry with the duty to protect other's lives, this is simply not enough training. Expecting that the officers are going to practice on their own -and realizing full and well that is not the case- I'm just feeling a little baffled.
-Reason? Money. Yep- dollars and cents. Ammo is too much.

There you have it folks- your safety comes down to the choice between bullets or landscaping that looks nice, etc.

Sad.
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Old May 15, 2010, 05:16 PM   #2
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Sir, that is sad, but remember all you, or anyone else, can do is take care of your side of the street. If your partner is a non shooter perhaps you can convince him/her to go to you the range, be prepared to supply the ammo for both of you, make it a social event, offer to by a meal or a beer when you finish.
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Old May 15, 2010, 05:16 PM   #3
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Wrongful death awards are cheaper than continous training for 1200 officers. This is what happens when accountants run the show.
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Old May 15, 2010, 05:32 PM   #4
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Also, how many of those 1200 officers can reasonably be expected to have to fire their weapons in the line of duty in a given year? Two? Three?

This sounds like a bean counter somewhere at work - they've figured that the cost of a rigorous training program was more than it was worth compared to the likelihood of an officer actually having to use their skills.
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Old May 15, 2010, 05:39 PM   #5
Brian Pfleuger
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This has nothing to do with being a department of 1200 or 12 (or 2). Those are the same standards as virtually every department that I know of.

Sometimes the qualifications are ONCE a year. One department that I know of requires qualifications with all the weapons at an officers disposal, but it's still only twice a year. The training "requirements" are "pass qualification". I know of no PD that has an official policy requiring firearms training beyond the academy.
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Old May 15, 2010, 05:45 PM   #6
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That will probably change the day the city gets hit with a lawsuit.
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Old May 15, 2010, 05:49 PM   #7
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Last qualification course I fired I could have passed blindfolded, nothing past 15 yds and almost any hit on a silhouette was full value, IIRC. It's rumored that some instructors did fire it blindfolded. I suspect your PD's standards have been lowered as well.
Qualifications isn't training. If done properly done it can indicate a need for additional training. It should also demonstrate proficiency and give officers confidence in their weapons skills. JMHO, of course, and quite obviously opinions not shared by your department. It used to amaze me that some departments budget 300 rds per rookie officer for firearms training in the academy.
Seems to me, kokopelli, you are responsible for your own firearms training. Find another like-minded officer or two and practice on your own. Getting involved in IDPA, PPC or similar competition is a good idea as well.
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Old May 15, 2010, 05:57 PM   #8
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Its not just the PD, its the Military, even infantry units. Look at how much time they spend on the range vs. PT. I understand being in shape is a good ideal BUT, Everyday vs. how often they spend on the range.

Cops are the same. We (APD) had to qualify once a year, unless you had a grumpy instructor who was able to sell the shift sgt. of the necessary of shooting more often. I did, everyone on our shift had to qualify once a month, and if I thought one needed extra attention, I had no problem getting more time with the individual. You have to be a salesmen, selling the ideal of the need for more range time.

With some guys, it was like pulling hens teeth, getting people to the range. always an excuse, got to do followup, or making a TS on the way to the range.

But like I said, its not just Civilian LE, but the military too. I ran the marksmanship unit for the AK ARNG. Getting commanders to release training time for weapons qualification was a trick in its self.

But like I said, its about Salesmanship, you need to sell the ideal of more training time allocated to range work.

Good Luck.
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Old May 15, 2010, 06:06 PM   #9
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I'm lucky to live in a city where the cops seem to take their firearms training pretty seriously, and the beancounters seem willing to let them do it. I shoot at the police range regularly, and they are out there all the time doing one thing or another. Shotgun and rifle classes, using the little shoothouse they have set up, all types of stuff in addition to the usual qualifications.

And it seems to be paying off. The last officer involved shooting that I am aware of was a footchase/gunfight with a bank robber, and the cops hit him with every round fired, or nearly so.
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Old May 15, 2010, 06:28 PM   #10
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That is sad. My agency has us qualify 4 times per year. Three-50 round courses. 2 with primary and one with backups. The same goes for longuns, although for each type it differs a bit (shotgun, m4).

Then there's always a tactical shooting component (move and shoot, use of cover, steel targets, etc) that involves at least your primary if not a long gun too.

To be honest, even that isn't enough for those leo's who aren't THAT proficient with the weapons. IMO, what we do just keeps our skills fresh, we don't necessarily improve a whole lot... But....

We are given (if we want to take it) like 150-200 rounds of our pistol ammo each quarter to use for additional practice.

Additionally, we use our carry ammo to qualify and practice... It's either federal or Speer hollowpoint ammo... No fmj or whatever. Just the good stuff.
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Old May 15, 2010, 06:32 PM   #11
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Quote:
It's rumored that some instructors did fire it blindfolded.
Done that. It failed to prove my point. The people who took numerous tries to pass that qualification now guard federal buildings.

Forty years ago, your average recruit had grown up shooting. He didn't have to learn safety or marksmanship in academy; he already knew these things. He simply had to acclimate to his issue gun.

Nowadays, most recruits show up never having handled a gun. They're not "gun people." There's a limit to the time and resources departments have to get these guys trained up. As a result, compromises are made. That's just where we are.

This has been an ongoing conversation in law-enforcement circles for decades. Ammunition costs taxpayer money, as does the overtime required for officers to train outside their normal (often LONG) hours. There doesn't seem to be an easy solution in sight.

In many ways, it's a reflection of our culture as a whole.
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Old May 15, 2010, 06:42 PM   #12
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We have gone to twice a year recently; we qualify with duty loads and were having trouble even finding ammo, for awhile there. I understand a lot of agencies are again allowing 'ballistic equivalent' training ammo to get around procurement problems, and we may do that.

However- far more troubling to me is...

Quote:
For the vast majority of the officers, this is the ONLY time they fire their weapons- they don't shoot independently, which I can't understand
and

Quote:
this years course? 20 rounds fired. Total. -Standing.
A good minimum would require yank & blast (either hand) at contact distance, double taps/3 from low ready at 7 yards, and 10 shots from standing at 15 & 25 yards. All under time, every shot scored. You can at least measure proficiency/correct deficiencies with that. My version takes 37 rounds and the standards/ranges are the same for off duty guns. Some people pucker at that, but it is what it is.

You still need some night shooting, moving target, shooting on the move and shoot/don't shoot.

We qualify twice a year, but we shoot a lot more than that. Our range is maybe 3 miles from the station and I try to keep a case or two of cheap ammo on hand. If one of my folks wants to go shoot, I'll shove them a box of ammo, stapler and targets- usually 12x12's with a four-inch bull. Makes them hunker down and work to get hits. If I'm not swamped I'll meet them at the range and we'll iron out whatever difficulties they're having. It's golden "one on one" time and I learn things as an instructor from those sessions, too.

I have the good fortune of having about 90% serious shooters in my outfit; serious folks who are interested in honing their skills- which are pretty good already. The other 10% are working to get there.
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Old May 15, 2010, 07:35 PM   #13
kokopelli
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just to reflect on some of the responses so far-

B. Lahey- we have had numerous officer involved shootings in the last 5 years, I think we're at about a 35% hit rate...
Mothermopar- we train with low, low end ammo...some times Independence or American Eagle. Recently we have had to use only lead free stuff because the range was built by contractors who had never built a range before and OSHA came down on them. We shoot up our duty ammo and get fresh every two years or so.
Glenn Dee- they have, and they keep writin' checks!
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Old May 15, 2010, 08:46 PM   #14
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Here's the details of the officer involved shooting I mentioned. They fired 16 times and the bank robber had 16 entry wounds. Pretty darn impressive as the guy was not standing still, and at least one of the cops was shooting while moving. Their firearms instructors should be proud. All that training seems to have worked out well.

http://www.stjoepros.org/index.php?o...d=271&Itemid=2

Quote:
Mr. Szuflita then stopped and turned to the officers, brandishing a knife. During this interchange, both officers repeatedly yelled at Mr. Szuflita to stop and to get on the ground. He refused. Instead, Mr. Szuflita made a slashing motion toward Officer Morgan. He lunged toward Officer Morgan, with his knife hand raised and the blade pointing down. Officer Morgan took one or two steps back, trying to maintain his distance from the suspect. He backed up as fast as he could. However, the suspect continued to lunge at him, closing the gap between himself and Officer Morgan. At this point, the officers, who had already drawn their weapons, discharged their firearms, striking Mr. Szuflita. Mr.Szuflita died of multiple gunshot wounds.

The County Metro Homicide Unit was activated to investigate the officer-involved shooting, pursuant to protocol. Investigators, utilizing metal detectors, located sixteen (16) shell casings near Mr. Szuflita’s body. Forensic examination of the shell casings determined that seven (7) of the casings were discharged from Officer Slager’s weapon and the remaining nine (9) shell casings were discharged from Officer Morgan’s weapon.

During the autopsy, eleven (11) projectiles were found in Mr. Szuflita’s body. At the scene of the shooting, CMHU investigators found three (3) projectiles around his body, and fragments of two (2) additional projectiles. During the autopsy, forensic pathologist Dr. Wagner of Fort Wayne documented the following wounds:

one (1) near the left collarbone,
three (3) in the right chest area,
one (1) entry and two (2) exit wounds on the right forearm,
one (1) entry at the lower right back,
one (1) entry wound at the back left knee,
one (1) entry wound in the inner left thigh area,
two (2) entry wounds in the back of the left hip,
three (3) entry wounds in the inner right thigh, and
three (3) entry wounds on the left buttock.
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Last edited by B. Lahey; May 15, 2010 at 08:51 PM.
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Old May 15, 2010, 09:07 PM   #15
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kokopelli,

To paraphrase John Farnam, "you are on your own".

Do not depend on the government to save you.

If you are an LEO, do not depend on the administration to pay for your training, especially defensive skills.

Long time ago in college, there was this cartoon called “Hip Shots”, and the gunfighter in it was named “Ricochet” or something like that. Well one day he was practicing his shooting skills and he said, “Sometimes it gets hard to afford practice, but then, I can’t afford not to practice.”

If I was an LEO, or a concerned citizen, I’d think about that. We spend so much money on movies, eating out, driving to the mall ten times a week when we could do the trip just once, etc.. and that money could be used for practice. And I mean practice, not plinking. But 95 percent, no 99 percent, of the people I see just don’t care. They don’t want to be bothered. Watching TV just seems so much more interesting than getting out on the range or working out in a self defense class like Krav Maga.

So don’t expect the situation to change. Instead change yourself. Cut down the eating out, cut down unnecessary spending, start practicing, AND GET FIT.

BTW, today was range day and Taekwondo day for me. Tomorrow is combination workout with the gang at a park. I do that an alot more each week. My wife and I eat out once a week and thats it.
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Old May 15, 2010, 09:16 PM   #16
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20 rounds standing is pretty sad. I hope you get your wish and the department gets a bit more serious about it. We currently run FATS once and sometimes twice a year. In addition to that we qualify twice per year. Two 60 round courses, timed, from 3 to 25 yards. Then two 24 round tactical courses from barricade. Shoot, no shoot etc. So then each qual is 168 rounds of duty ammo. Better than some have it, but not good enough in my estimation. Nothing prone or on our butts for instance. We do move during the tactical, and shoot from more than one position.
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Old May 15, 2010, 10:09 PM   #17
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Just did spring quals, 60 rounds but it required, weak hand,kneeling,prone. Thought we were bad, 20 rds standing is embarrassing
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Old May 15, 2010, 10:31 PM   #18
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Between the lawyers and the accountants we are being nibbled away to nothing.

I live in a large metro city in California. One of the officers I know just came out of their training division - by request - because no one would listen and they kept telling him not to make waves.

Current qualification procedure has just gone from twice a year to once per year. Officers are issued a firearm and 100 rounds. They get 50 rounds per quarter to rotate their ammo. Annual qualification with pistol consists of shooting exactly 31 rounds at 7 & 15 yards, static facing targets, on green B-27 Silhouttes in 35% lighting (i.e. equiv. to sodium vapor night street lighting). Patrol officers are given 8 rounds of #00 buck to qualify with at 25 yards and 35 yards. Rifle qualifications consist of only 10 rounds out of the M4/AR-15 rifle, semi-auto only.

Scoring is done on a pass/fail basis. Range officers are not allowed to score targets by points. Only torso & head hits count towards a percentage of hits vs. shots fired. Qualification for patrol is 75% and 70% for administrative duty personnel (desk officers, command officers, detectives, etc.)

Why? Lawyers. If a lawyer can get an officer to admit that his shooting skills are "below average" it really opens the door to large cash awards. Hence, point scoring is not allowed. Nor is scoring percentage hits above the qualification score. If the range officer calculates your score as 88% he just tells you "you passed", but not the hits. Officers are not allowed to score their own targets or take them as memento/trophy/bragging rights.

This way, in court, an officer can say he and his partner were both qualified, even though he shot a 95% and his partner barely made 75%.

The accountants have even been reluctant to continue the 200 rounds per year "free" ammo for officers due to the "excessive cost" of ammo. There was a suggestion from city finance to limit officers to 10-round magazines. I don't need to tell you what the POA said in reply. It just didn't happen.

Not too long ago, a new chief came in and policy changed regarding firearms. Officers were required to report any discharge of the firearm at all and each report required an Internal Affairs investigation. When 5 officers reported their personal shooting at a public range with duty guns, I/A was required to investigate. Rather than exempt on-range shooting, the chief prohibited using a duty weapon outside of the PD's own range (which required a range officer present). Truly, my friends, the inmates are running the asylum.

The next officer-involved shooting where some innocent is hit is going to be a financial disaster for the city.
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Old May 16, 2010, 01:19 AM   #19
johns7022
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I shoot 12000+ rounds per year on my own...what's stopping the average cop from doing the same....

Oh, yeah, that's right...you want the taxpayers to pay for your shooting....
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Old May 16, 2010, 03:23 AM   #20
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Quote:
I shoot 12000+ rounds per year on my own...what's stopping the average cop from doing the same....

Oh, yeah, that's right...you want the taxpayers to pay for your shooting....
We, the taxpayers, should be paying for law enforcement training. It is money well spent. Instead the big thing these days are community outreach programs, equal opportunity employment and political correctness. While you can shoot over a box of shells everyday of the year the average officer has other duties they are required to perform besides putting lead downrange. You couldn't pay me enough to be a law enforcement officer in this day and age. It's a thankless job in most cities and dangerous to boot. My hats off to LEOs.
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Old May 16, 2010, 06:36 AM   #21
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Quote:
I shoot 12000+ rounds per year on my own...what's stopping the average cop from doing the same....

Oh, yeah, that's right...you want the taxpayers to pay for your shooting....
Well it can be hard for some folks who are in college and law enforcement because it has flexible hours and pays more than McDonalds. As is the case with some of my felow deputies. Some folks never touch a pistol till they attend the academy and just like most any other job some if not all of the burden of tools, equipment and training should fall on the employer. IMHO

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Old May 16, 2010, 07:36 AM   #22
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I'm of two minds on the topic. First, I'm a shooter and military officer, and I understand the difference between "proficiency" and mere "currency". I agree that it would be nice if the proscribed training were enough to maintain proficiency and not just currency.

But on the other hand, the police are not a military (or even paramilitary) organization (SWAT/HRT types excepted), and for the overwhelming majority of them, shooting at people just isn't their job, and the odds of needing to do so in the course of a career are vanishingly small.

The 20, 40, or 60 rounds per year should be enough to demonstrate competency and maintain currency. If the officer doesn't think he's shooting well enough (and he'll know - even without an official score from the rangemaster), then it's incumbent upon him -as a professional- to work on his proficiency until he's comfortable, in his off-time and on his own dime if needed.

Also, how does the time/money spent shooting compare to the time/money spent on other training that's as important (if not more so), such as high-speed performance driving, conflict resolution, and escalation/use of force? Those shouldn't be "learn it at the academy and forget it" topics either.

Hell, how much money is spent on mental wellness, voluntary therapy and suicide awareness/prevention? That's what's killing cops in the largest numbers, not bad guys.

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Old May 16, 2010, 09:28 AM   #23
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Quote:
Hell, how much money is spent on mental wellness, voluntary therapy and suicide awareness/prevention? That's what's killing cops in the largest numbers, not bad guys.
Amen to that. The paucity of firearms training is a symptom of a larger problem, one which comes down to departmental priorities, budget and time.
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Old May 16, 2010, 11:32 AM   #24
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The sad truth is... Administrative types see police officers/solders as expendable. (they knew what they were getting into when they took the job). This attitude is present as well in the security, and personal protection industries. In the climate of higher profit margins, and lower taxpayer expences... It's the line troops that suffer.

As far as a police officer qualifying once a year with 20 rounds... Thats blasphimous. Although the firearm is probably the least used skill, and tool by the average police officer. They have the most serious consiquences. It seems that today, any, and everything can be justified by showing some cost savings. Gone is the time of responsibility. I wonder if the average citizen would agree to a tax saving based on taking away from the range budget of their local police. Just because some actuaries tables can show it makes financial sense... dont make it so.

Sorry for the rant... This is a subject near and dear to my heart.

Anyone officially charged with the responsibility of carrying a firearm should be able to prove his or her skill level with that firearm at any time. Also that any corperation, government, or sub-agency requiring these people to be armed has the responsibility to present the best training possible, and demand the best skill set possible.

Any and all grievences, and mistakes can be litigated, and the victim made whole again. DEAD cant be litigated. The DEAD cant be made whole again. DEAD by avoidable mistake is inexcuseable. Lack of proper training, and qualification leads to mistakes.

END OF RANT.

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Old May 16, 2010, 12:26 PM   #25
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Yep- dollars and cents. Ammo is too much.


Shoot cheap reloads for training...oh wait LEO's probably have Glocks.
So your industry is not behind you guys and neither is your department.
That must suck.
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