Do NYC Cops Get Enough Firearms Training?

The majority of police officers will never fire their gun in a real-life scenario. Most of the time, it will rest on their hip. It’s because of this that NYPD officials think their officers don’t need a whole lot of training. A few days in retraining each year should be enough—but, is it?

Sure, police shootings are rare. You are more likely to be killed in a car accident than you are to be killed by a police officer. But, this is how it should be and the police shouldn’t be congratulated for acting the way they should. Instead, police administrators must look more closely at the times when officers step outside this norm, and what can be done to prevent “mistakes” on the odd chance an officer has to pull his weapon.

Taurus 85T Revolver vs. Kel-Tec P3AT PistolAccording to a NY Times piece, many on the force believe the NYPD doesn’t do enough to train their officers in high-stress, potential scenarios. One day of annual training is spent on the range, where the officer must qualify with at least 78% accuracy. Another day is spent in a sort of high-stakes role-playing, where officers are put in possible situations and made to think and act quickly under pressure.

The latter, many say, is the most useful training, helping officers determine when deadly force may actually be necessary, and teaching them to make these decisions in the heat of the moment.

Says one officer of the department, who spoke under the condition of anonymity, “Firearms training is important—it’s very important. And it’s something that is not taken seriously.”

“You can always train more,” said Commissioner Kelly upon hearing the suggestion that his officers aren’t receiving enough training due to budgetary concerns. “We can train people 30 days a year, 40 days a year. But obviously we have an obligation to get people on the street. We’re down 6,000 police officers already. How much training do you do?”

How much training do you do? That isn’t a question easily answered. But when officers are found shooting people when the situation didn’t warrant it, perhaps the answer is a simple: “More”.

The RAND corporation, following the police shooting of unarmed groom-to-be Sean Bell, analyzed the NYPD firearms’ training course and determined “The size of the class in attendance … and the limited amount of time allocated to the role-playing exercises meant that no single recruit participated in more than one exercise and that approximately half of the recruits did not have an active role in any exercise.” Also, “The number of trainees and limited time for the class meant that there was no time for ‘do-overs.’ ”

Maybe there can never be enough firearms training for police officers. Perhaps the risk of a “mistake” will always be present. But, the city should do whatever possible to minimize this risk, even if that means spending more money.

The likelihood of you being shot by police is slim. But, officers misuse their power in other ways. We frequently hear of people who believe their arrest was unwarranted and the charges against them unfair. Whether you are accused of disorderly conduct or selling drugs, you need someone on your side when you go before the judge. Contact us today to discuss your options. 

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