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Particularly in scenarios like this, where officers are moving between rooms and places, it is imperative that no functional guns or live ammo contaminate the training environment. Alex Landeen photo.

In September of 2010, Officer Dan De Kraai of the St. Joseph, Missouri Police Department was shot and killed in a training accident. The tragic death was related to mistaking a live cartridge for a marking cartridge used in force-on-force simulation training. The officer who reportedly discharged the fatal bullet was no bumbling Barney Fife; five years on the department, he had spent two years on the Special Reaction Team and had earned a Medal of Valor. None among us are immune to error. Call it Case One.

In the wake of this tragic, unnecessary death, research from one source determined that there had been some thirty deaths of police officers in training over the last several years. Ken Murray’s excellent book Training At the Speed of Life, should, in this observer’s opinion, be a mandatory guide for reality-based training that encompasses the “force-on-force” concept.
Let’s review some of the things that the years have taught us: lessons written in the blood of police officers killed in training, and engraved in the grieving hearts of the brother officers who accidentally killed them.

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BlackHawk’s non-shootable dummy guns (above), and S-Thunder’s M4 paintball (right) can prevent live ammo from
contaminating the training environment. Blackhawk photo.

In Case Two, in Europe, training was being conducted with “marking rounds” fired from otherwise functional service revolvers. Somehow, a live .38 Special cartridge found its way into the pocket of one of the participating role players. He had apparently dumped some spare marking cartridges into the same pocket. The time came for him to reload during a scenario, and the live cartridge was unintentionally inserted into one of the chambers. By the end of the day, a brother participant was dead from a gunshot wound to the torso.

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Particularly in scenarios like this, where officers are moving between rooms and places, it is…