Tonight we went through a very basic training session in the use of simunitions for police training tactics. I wanted to start this post with some stats about how often the typical law enforcement officer draws their weapon in the line of duty, but that's not a statistic that is easy to put your hands on. Use of force, especially deadly force is a not tracked in a uniform manner. When a department collects this info, statistical updates don't ususally end up in the monthly community policing newsletter.
For a city under 40,000, our police force has a pretty good training program. They have training glocks that fire small soap-based dye rounds, safety helmets with 200 degree range of vision shields and more head cover than Darth Vader. They also have neck/throat shields, and the typical groin cups. Officers usually wear their own vests for body armor. One room in the lower level of the safety building holds a large free standing square of hinged 12 by 8 foot sheets of plywood. These "walls" can be configured to resemble various room layouts. For training to respond to an office building or school crisis, the local housing authority allows law enforcement to train in a couple abandoned warehouses that are awaiting "redevelopment."
Tonight, though, it was Joes Vs Pros in a domestic disturbance response. Citizen Police Academy members paired up and were sent in as "responding officers" to a domestic disturbance where loud voices were reported and physical violence was suspected. The Pros played the domestic disturbers, leaving us Joes to be the Police. My partner and I were as Mutt and Jeff as they come. He; a few years my senior and a peace and justice advocate with military experience. Me a life-long TV law enforcement junkie from Gunsmoke to CSI.
Our training officer was a compact man with a high n' tight hair cut, and a look-you straight-in-the-eyes approach. It was clear we were going to get a scaled down version of the usual trainging they do, but there was nothing scaled down about the safety precautions. We were first asked about any weapons we might be carrying, then asked to empty our pockets and finally wanded with a metal detector before we left the "safe room" for the "Live fire" room. If we left for any reason, we had to repeat this safety check before being allowed to do the simnitions activity.
When it was our turn, my partner and I followed the instructor to the training room. We donned our helmets, were given our weapons and told to enter the room. Guns could be at our sides or barrel-down, held against our stomachs. When we entered there were two men fighting in the corner. I yelled at them to break it up said we were police. One pushed the other down and pulled out a gun. He aimed and started shooting at the man he had been fighting. I think I got out the words, "Put it down," then I just opened up.
My partner shot about the same time. I fired three to five rounds and hit the man twice in the back and once high in the side just below the arm pit. I could tell my hits from my partner's because his bullets were made of blue dye and mine were orange. The shooter collapsed and I turned my attention on the other fellow, pointing my gun at him and shouting, "Gun? do you have a gun?" I guess "Show me your hands." wasn't the first thing I was thinking of. The training officer yelled that it was over and we surrendered our weapons. We got high marks for our shooting and for treating the other subject as dangerous, until we knew otherwise.
Afterwards I couldn't recall how many shots I had fired until the training officer showed me the marks. I didn't even hear my "partner's" weapon discharge. Nor could I recall exactly how far he was to my right. Tunnel/funnel vision in every sense.
This was our last training program. Next week is graduation. I have been promised a dvd of my tazing. I saw it on the TO's lap top. I haven't decided if it will end up on this site. All I can say is thank God I'm a girl, cause I sure screamed like one!