Catch up on previous posts here.
Week 11 – Jennifer Thinks She is Annie Oakley Now
This week’s class was all about firearms. We learned a bit about the weapons that the Santa Monica Police Department uses and how the officers are trained. Wisely, we were not allowed to shoot actual guns but we did get to see the firing range and use the simulator.
- The Range Master is responsible for issuing, keeping track of, maintaining, and testing all of the weapons, armor, etc.
- Team of 20 instructors in all
- The Range Master also serves as a taser instructor, 1 qualification per month.
- Officers are required to have 8 hours of training in “perishable skills” every two years. Perishable skills are things that have to be practiced to be maintained.
- Using a shorter barrel shotgun like SMPD has requires special training on top of everything else.
- Officers are trained in low light and no light situations.
- Rookies are put in stressful situations in the simulator and then asked afterwards why they did what they did. This is also good training if they ever have to testify in court.
- FTO = field training officer
- LAPD has different training procedures than SMPD, but lots of overlap.
- Law enforcement agencies in So Cal often train together because there are so many so close together around here.
- There are 79 domains officers will learn and be tested on.
- Training/standards mandated by POST (Police Officer Standards & Training)
- 9mm – can carry more bullets
- Officers shoot to stop a threat, no “warning shots” or anything like that.
- Officers are trained to aim for the upper respiratory region to stop oxygenated blood from getting to the brain. Shooting someone in the leg (for example) very often doesn’t stop the threat.
- It is extremely difficult to shoot a gun out of someone’s hand, contrary to what TV & movies tell us.
- An officer’s choice of weapon should be determined by the situation.
- Most people shoot better with a rifle because of the longer barrel.
- Some bigger, heavier bullet proof vests stop knives. The lighter ones do not.
- Not all law enforcement agencies have their own range. Because SMPD does, they can do their own qualifications.
- Any training farther than 25 yards and they schlep out to A Place To Shoot.
- Simunition – training ammo, if you get hit it hurts and will leave a mark.
This is what happens when bullet proof glass is shot. Maybe “bullet resistant” would be a better name for it because with the right gun at the right distance and enough ammo you could easily break through.
It’s kind of beautiful in a strange way…
- In any police shooting where someone is hit, the officer is required to see a mental health professional before they are cleared for duty. (They don’t have to talk if they choose not to, but they have to go.)
- There are also officers who are confidential “peer support” so an officer always has someone to talk to. If they are more comfortable, they can go talk to peer support at other agencies.
- There is a specific mental health professional who SMPD officers can go see for any reason, paid for by the city.
- Officers are accountable for every shot they fire.
- Weapons training isn’t just about marksmanship, they also talk about what to do in various scenarios so an officer never has to stop and think about what they are supposed to do.
- “The first time you see something shouldn’t be out in the field.”
This week gave me one opportunity to ask my question about when entertainment media has gotten closest to the realities of law enforcement. The answer I was given is End of Watch, something I have heard as a response a lot.