Modern Police Training, Unrealistic Expectations

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None of the following is surprising to anyone knowledgeable about firearms training, which excludes most law enforcement and military personnel.

The Texas Commission on Law Enforcement (formerly Texas Commission on Law Enforcement Officers Standards and Education) mandates training for law enforcement in Texas. Here are their requirements for firearms:
http://www.tcole.texas.gov/sites/default/files/documents/Rules%20Handbook_101011.pdf
Page 36

§217.21. Firearms Proficiency Requirements.

(a) Each agency or entity that employs at least one peace officer shall:
(1) require each peace officer that it employs to successfully complete the current firearms proficiency requirements at least once each year;

(b) The annual firearms proficiency requirements shall include:
(1) an external inspection by the proficiency officer, range officer, firearms instructor, or gunsmith to determine the safety and functioning of the weapon(s);
(2) a proficiency demonstration in the care and cleaning of the weapon(s) used; and
(3) a course of fire that meets or exceeds the minimum standards.

(c) The minimum standards for the annual firearms proficiency course of fire shall be:
(1) handguns – a minimum of 50 rounds, including at least five rounds of duty ammunition, fired at ranges from point-blank to at least 15 yards with at least 20 rounds at or beyond seven yards, including at least one timed reload;
(2) shotguns – a minimum of five rounds of duty ammunition fired at a range of at least 15 yards;
(3) precision rifles – a minimum of 20 rounds of duty ammunition fired at a range of at least 100 yards; however, an agency may, in its discretion, allow a range of less than 100 yards but not less than 50 yards if the minimum passing percentage is raised to 90;
(4) patrol rifles – a minimum of 30 rounds of duty ammunition fired at a range of at least 50 yards, including at least one timed reload; however, an agency may, in its discretion, allow a range of less than 50 yards but not less than 10 yards if the minimum passing percentage is raised to 90;
(5) fully automatic weapons – a minimum of 30 rounds of duty ammunition fired at ranges from seven to at least 10 yards, including at least one timed reload, with at least 25 rounds fired in full automatic (short bursts of two or three rounds), and at least five rounds fired semi-automatic, if possible with the weapon.
(d) The minimum passing percentage shall be 70 for each firearm.
(e) The executive director may, upon written agency request, waive a peace officer’s demonstration of weapons proficiency based on a determination that the requirement causes a hardship.
(f) The effective date of this section is January 14, 2010.

The key points are a minimum round count for the qualification (not for any training, practice, or remedial, however…), some minimum distance requirements, a “timed” reload, and a target that is “scoreable” to ascertain that a 70% hit rate was made. “Timed” means that a time limit was stated and enforced but it can as fast (or as slow…) as the department wants. Other strings of fire don’t even require this. In practice, “scoreable” means a full-size humanoid target that has a clear edge/line to score hits or misses only.

Most departments use that point blank declaration to the hilt. When I was an adjunct instructor for AACOG in San Antonio, the qualification we used had 88% of the shots fired at 21 feet or less and 20% shot at three feet from retention and incorporating movement. Everything at nine feet and less was shot one handed and all shots within potential contact distance of the target shot from retention. The few timed strings of fire had generous time limits; many strings were untimed. And our course was more difficult than those used at most agencies.

Foolish people believe this is “progressive” because the distances are more in line with real-world engagements (which is certainly a good idea) however the fatal flaw is these qualifications routinely fail to enforce a time standard more in line with a “speed of life” pace that real engagements will likely take place.

https://firearmusernetwork.com/aacog-leo-pistol-qualification/
https://firearmusernetwork.com/im-a-responsible-gun-owner-seriously/

What you end up with is a qualification that is a relaxed, sedate, inaccurate pus-spraying non-event accepting 70% of the fired rounds slowly splattering a barn-door silhouette anywhere. And then said officer misses most shots when/if forced to do it fast and under stress. Frankly, I’m surprised they managed a 35% “bullet level” hit rate given how lame the course is accepting 70%

Noted trainer and high-level competitive shooter Karl Rehn did a break down of the Dallas Police Department qual course:
http://blog.krtraining.com/shooting-the-dallas-pd-qualification-course-of-fire/

Dallas PD Pistol Qualification Course
Round Count: 50
Target: TQ-15
Passing Score: 80% (200/250)

Stage I – 3 yards: From holster, draw and fire five rounds strong hand only in 10 seconds; transfer weapon to support hand and remain at low ready. When targets turn fire five rounds in 10 seconds, support hand only. (10 total rounds this stage)

Stage II – 7 yards: From holster, fire five rounds in 10 seconds; targets turn away; remain at low ready. When targets turn, fire five rounds in 10 seconds and return to low ready. Targets turn again and again, fire five rounds in 10 seconds. (15 total rounds this stage)

Stage IIa – 7 yards: Set up pistol with five total rounds on board and two five round magazines in pouch. When targets face, draw and fire five rounds; slide lock reload; fire five more rounds, execute a second slide locked reload and then fire five more rounds in 30 seconds total. (15 total rounds in this stage)

Stage III – 15 yards: Draw and fire five rounds in 15 seconds. (5 total rounds this stage)

Stage IV – 25 yards: Shooter starts one step right and one step behind barricade. When targets face, move to cover, draw and fire five rounds in 30 seconds. (5 total rounds this stage)

These test standards are NOT the answer to the question “what level of proficiency is desired to have acceptable performance in a gunfight?“. They are the answer to the question “what are the lowest possible standards that can be used to assess whether someone is a danger to themselves or others if armed in public?”

– Karl Rehn

Qualification courses this weak are the norm among military personnel as well. It’s worth noting that a two seconds per shot pace is used during Precicion Pistol (Bullseye) National Match Course competition, however, competitors are doing that one-handed at 25 yards on a target with a bullseye (nine-ring) 5.5 inches and a 3-inch ten ring inside, not a full-size TQ-15 silhouette using most of the 24×40″ sheet it’s printed on.

Contrast this to Mr. Rehn’s useful Three Seconds or Less which can summed further as stating defensive shooters need the ability to move offline (left or right), present from concealment/duty rig, and land three center hits at three yards/meters/paces in less than three seconds. Mr. Givens and his 63+ gunfight-winning students suggest training your first hit to land in about 1.5 seconds.

From Tom Givens

https://www.policeone.com/police-training/articles/482251006-New-study-on-shooting-accuracy-How-does-your-agency-stack-up/

Hitting (or missing) the mark: An examination of police shooting accuracy in officer-involved shooting incidents
https://www.emeraldinsight.com/doi/abs/10.1108/PIJPSM-05-2018-0060?journalCode=pijpsm

The Force Science Institute recently reported on a study conducted by several researchers who used the Dallas Police Department as an example of a modern, big city police department’s firearms training and field performance. The researchers were shocked at how poorly the DPD officers did in actual shootings in the field, a reaction generally shared by members of the public at large when they find out how dismal typical police performance with firearms really is, as opposed to the Hollywood movie/TV version of how cops shoot.

The mindset of the researchers can be summed up by this quote from their study: “although the amount- and quality- of firearms training received by officers over the last century has improved considerably, there appears to have been little improvement in shooting accuracy”. Implicit in that quote is an assumption that today’s officers get a lot of firearms training, and that the training received effectively prepares them for armed conflict. Wrong!

First, their findings. From 2003-2017 the Dallas Police Department had 231 Officer Involved Shootings (OIS). A number of these involved multiple officers, so to get a better picture of individual performance, the researchers discarded those and looked only at incidents in which a single officer fired at a single suspect. They found 149 OIS’s that met that criterion.

They looked at hit rates in two ways, “incident level” and “bullet level”. On an “incident level” basis, they found that officers got at least one hit, regardless of the number of rounds fired, in about 54% of the shootings, just barely over half of the time.

However, on a “bullet level” basis, they found that out of 354 shots fired, there was only a 35% hit rate. One-half of all officers missed with every shot they fired, including one officer who fired 23 misses and no hits. This means that six out of every ten shots fired was a miss. How does this happen?

Let’s look at this “amount – and quality- of firearms training” in Dallas, which is actually a very representative sample. Officers qualify with their firearms once per year. That’s right, once. The course of fire they “qualify” on is a joke, essentially a sobriety test for anyone with any skill at all with a gun. I, or any other competent private sector trainer, could take a brand new shooter, with no prior training or experience, and have them pass this course of fire at the end of one day of range training. DPD officers receive “firearms training” once every two years, consisting of 50-100 rounds of firing in exercises and scenarios. That’s it.

Now, let’s take someone who does not know how to drive a car. We’ll give them a few days of driving instruction, but only at very low speed in the empty parking lot, with no traffic. They will then not drive at all for a year. After a year, we’ll have them drive the car from Point A to Point B on the parking lot, again with no traffic. Then, again no more driving once they leave the lot. Some nine months after that, they will be directed to respond to a life-threatening crisis by jumping in a car and roaring off at 120 miles per hour on an expressway filled with traffic. Think they would do well? That’s exactly what DPD does with their officers when it comes to firearms.

The bottom line is, most police departments don’t care if their officers can shoot well. They don’t care about the officers’ welfare nor about the public’s safety. “Qualification” once per year has been consistently held to be inadequate by U.S. courts, yet it is still the standard in many areas. “Training” every two years is criminally negligent, but that’s “good enough” for these agencies.

Learn from this example. Whether you are a law enforcement officer, or Joe Citizen with a carry permit, the agency you work for or who issued your license is NOT responsible for your life. You are! Seek out competent training. Make time for relevant practice. Handle your emergency life-saving equipment often enough to obtain and maintain proficiency with it. Remember that recency trumps almost everything in retention of motor skills, so get to the range more than once a year. One day you may be very glad you “exceeded the mandated standard”.

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“Any NCO with the FM”

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From Mike Lewis

Here’s the problem as I see it. The primary role of the NCO is training Soldiers, yet NCOs in general are lacking. This isn’t their fault because one can’t effectively teach what one was never taught. I didn’t get to attend MMTC before retiring and it was still a pilot then, but 200 NCOs a year doesn’t get the Army healthy.

Drill Sergeants come from all over the Army. They get marksmanship in DS school, but at what level and from whom? How much time out of those few weeks is dedicated to learning things never previously learned in any formal training environment before coaching and diagnosing problem shooters, or is it just the bare basics? I say this because a vast number in the formation never got any formal instruction in weapons employment after BCT and much of the stuff floating around is “I learned this from my buddy in Group or Regiment” while not giving context and/or getting it wrong.

This leads to what we see here. It won’t get fixed until the Army takes small arms training seriously and quits collectively lying with green blocks on Command and Staff slides then never progressing beyond baseline skills for qual.

I’m a Responsible Gun Owner? Seriously?

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The description given in the article below is not uncommon and it often applies to military, law enforcement, and hunters as well.

While living in San Antonio, I was a TCOLE (formerly TCLEOSE) certified instructor and worked part-time at the Alamo Area Regional Law Enforcement Academy. As a Texas resident, I took the TxDPS – License to Carry course described below. While living in Wisconsin, I was certified by the state Department of Natural Resources as a Wisconsin Hunter Education instructor and taught classes. I’ve been in the U.S. Army in various capacities for a quarter century and with the US Army Reserve Marksmanship Training and Competitive Program since 2004.

I’ve been fortunate to have been involved with many skilled people in all of these experiences but that was largely due to my seeking them out and knowing what to look for. I already had higher-level shooting experience via organized competition and held Classifications from national-level organizations before doing any of this. The then-director of the DNR Hunter’s Ed program attended HunterShooter events I held. I applied for that Academy after having a fellow Shooting Team member speak well of the training director and his program. My Texas LTC course was taught by a fellow instructor and USAR Shooting Team member. I specifically took the class from him to avoid the clown show described below.

Gun owners are often their own worst enemy. The level of incompetence described here is not uncommon. Military, law enforcement, hunters, and concealed carry people are often at novice levels. Mandatory qualification levels are only useful if they’re difficult enough to assess useful skill. That means people incapable of displaying minimal useful skill must be failed. The other approach is for the program to intend to pass everyone. This means standards are adjusted down until everyone can. This article describes the results of that.
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Rifle Marksmanship: Competition Shooter vs. Military

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A very good bit of instruction from Patrick E. Kelley

Offhand Rifle Shooting Tips

A 10-inch steel plate at 170 yards is about 5.8 MoA. As you can see in the video, the Burris XTR II reticle used has an interior dimension of 1.75 mils (about 6 MoA) which appears just slightly larger than the target.

For reference, basic Army and Marine rifle grouping standard is a 6 MoA group (4cm at 25 yards) fired prone supported. Mr. Kelley is performing this demo offhand unsupported. That’s the skill difference between military-trained personnel and a good competition shooter.

Yale Police Protest Over Firearms Test

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Yale Police Protest Over Firearms Test
http://www.wsj.com/articles/yale-police-protest-over-firearms-tests-1478474266
More than 70 police officers at Yale University are protesting a new policy that allows them to be fired if they don’t pass a firearms test in 30 working days after having failed it twice.

How difficult is this test, really? The article doesn’t mention, but it’s almost certainly the rudimentary levels found throughout law enforcement. In one formal study, it was found there is a tiny 13% difference in skill between complete novices that had never fired a handgun and academy-trained police officers. Academy-trained police officers are still novices, and these police officers at Yale University are protesting being held accountable for this 13% improvement because they can’t do it, or the academy that graduated them couldn’t teach them to do so, or both.

“Training” at this level is just an introduction to concepts. Passing such a qualification is merely routine hygiene that introductory concepts have been retained at a level 13% above complete novices, not training.
https://firearmusernetwork.com/fitness-is-hygiene/

Note for all instructors: This is why maintaining reasonable but challenging standards coupled with semi-regular competition is important. It prevents underskilled “instructors” from working with recruits by revealing with numbers how unskilled they actually are. It puts a performance goal that indicates when low performance is happening and identifies those that are doing better and best. Encouraging and hosting competitive events creates a culture that reinforces skill development for recognizing and rewarding those that do well, which identifies potential candidates to help teach the others.

These police officers at Yale University are protesting for the “right” to remain underskilled and to never find better qualified firearms instruction at their academy.

USMC Rifle Qualification History

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History of USMC Rifle Qualification, 1903-2013
by Marine Gunner C.P. WADE, WTBN, Quantico

Source: History of USMC Rifle Qualification, 1903-2013

More comments here:
https://armyreservemarksman.info/usmc-rifle-qualification-history/

Teaching Military Marksmanship

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Having drill sergeants and unit NCOs instruct marksmanship with no additional formal training or proven, higher-level experience is like having second graders teach first grade, simply because they graduated first grade.

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