I am a reserve police officer and chaplain.  I was recently speaking to a deputy assigned to a local school about firearms qualification.  He told me that he hadn’t fired his weapon for a year.

With all the news about school shooters, I found it strange that he never practiced.  How would he stop an active shooter on campus?

He told me that he always manages to qualify when the time comes.  If he doesn’t then he simply will just practice when the next range time comes up.   I always tell fellow offices, many parts of police work involve perishable skills.

Look at the way law enforcement officers are trained.  We go to the Academy where we are taught all the latest bells and whistles.  We learn how to drive police cars quickly.  We learn about firearms and defensive tactics.  We learn about Tasers, oc spray, batons, etc.  However, once you get on the job, especially in smaller departments, you may not use these skills often.

Those of us who work on school campuses have it even harder because unless you work an area where you do traffic or alcohol enforcement, then you basically sit in your unit and just look cool. You may only get to practice with your firearm maybe once a year.  You have to buy your own ammo.

If you go to the range on your own time and dime you are considered paranoid. I took an active shooter course.  I kept getting the “why in the heck are you going to this for?” look.  Another officer and I went to train as asp baton instructors.  We had planned to train other officers in the department.  We \were told that the time would come for that later.  So far that time hasn’t arrived.

Lo and behold an incident occurred with an officer who was not certified with any less than lethal weapons.  Thankfully she had another back up officer who was trained.  He ended the confrontation..  Empty hand skills will also perish if not practiced.  Many officers forget how to do moves that were once ingrained in the academy.

Driving, handcuffing, verbal skills, firearms, and less than lethal are skills that LEO’s must stay current on if we are to be ready for any event. If you are falling short on a certain discipline, then you are responsible for maintaining those skills. You can’t blame your chief, lack of money or working a double shift for not getting the training to maintain your skills.

When you go to court, the first thing that the defense attorney will ask you is when the last time was that you trained or did ________.  Defense attorneys love it when you state in court your chief is the one who didn’t send you to training and you couldn’t go. Let me know how that works out for you.

I make it a point that I depend on me when it comes to my training.  There are some cops who won’t invest the extra time just to stay proficient with their firearms, oc spray, batons etc.  Keeping up on these skills will save your life.  I’m not concerned about them until they are my partner for the shift.

I take my oath to protect people seriously.  It does cost to be ready, but at least I will be ready. LEO’s should always keep up with current trends in field including, changing laws, firearms and other issues. Those of us who work schools should be the ones who are ahead of the game.  Especially after the recent school shooting in California, we should already know that it can and will happen again.  Are your skills up to par?