Relevant and realistic training is the mechanism by which officers…

Relevant and realistic training is the mechanism by which officers win or lose, and it’s imperative that administra-tors acknowledge that fact. Ichiro Nagata photo

Law enforcement officers have to be capable of “enforcing” the law. In a worst-case threat scenario (deadly threat) they must be able to deliver deadly force—on target, capably and with minimal risk to innocent civilians in the area. That means landing fight-stopping accurate fire on an armed suspect who may be shooting back.

They must be able to do this. And yet, a large number of officers, sheriff deputies and agents of all sorts cannot do this or at least cannot do it well….

This is not a damning report on the failure of police firearms training program. This is a factual look at the reasons why many officers cannot shoot and how law enforcement can improve the performance of cops in armed encounters. The truth is that better and more realistic firearms training and higher competency standards equate to fewer officers getting killed in the line of duty.

Agency Attitudes
Does an agency approach firearms training as a necessary evil required by the state or as the means by which it can insure the safety of officers? The question is that simple—is this done because the agency “has to” or because they understand that relevant and realistic training is the mechanism by which officers win or lose.

So clear is the answer that it begs the question: Why wouldn’t you train? Two answers rear their ugly head: 1) The agency administrators were never “street cops,” and 2) money.

Bean-counting chiefs and agency administrators that never were true street cops don’t understand the need for relevant, realistic firearms training repeated on a regular basis. Some may even have the attitude that such training makes their officers “gun-happy” or more likely to draw and/or shoot. Sounds silly, but I once had a Chief tell me that an officer who had allowed a suspect armed with a butcher knife to slash across his body armor- clad chest and still didn’t shoot was a “hero.” Such administrators would rather officers tackle or Taser armed offenders rather than shoot.

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