What’s the trick to training a dog? Buy the right dog. What’s the trick to choosing men and women capable of handling lethal force on society’s behalf? Hire the right people. Obviously, that’s easier said than done. Only certain types of people are attracted to the police force, what with its excellent pay, benefits and pensions; long hours, inherent dangers and bureaucratic bullshit. Drilling down, only certain people would want to be a reserve police officer. Reserve as in unpaid. policeone.com offers a glossy profile of your average California “volunteer” cop. The Porter Country post-trib.com provides a far less flattering insight into the caliber of cop inducted in Indiana’s reserve police force. And the attitude of the man responsible for the reserve officer’s negligent discharge . . .

According to the police report, [recently sworn-in Hebron reserve police officer Daniel] Glickauf went to First Presbyterian Church of Valparaiso, 3401 Valparaiso St., to pick up his 5-year-old son from school. He was in his vehicle in the parking lot just before 2:30 p.m. when he decided not to alarm any other parents by walking in with his firearm on his hip. He also did not want to leave a loaded gun unattended in the vehicle.

He ejected the magazine from the gun, ejected the round from the chamber, and reinserted the ejected round back into the magazine, he told police. He then attempted to put the magazine back in the gun but it didn’t fit right. Not being familiar with the Smith & Wesson Springfield .40-caliber handgun, although he said it was his personal gun that he also uses for work, “he thought if he pulled the trigger the magazine would seat properly,” Glickauf told police.

Instead, the gun fired and the bullet went into his upper left thigh.

Those damn self-firing guns! They’re evil, I tell you! Evil! Of course, it helps [the gun] if the person behind the trigger is as dumb as toast.

Yes, there is that. How did someone so clueless about gun safety get to be a reserve police officer? Actually, it’s a lot worse than that.

Daniel Glickauf, 29, of South Haven, was sworn in as a reserve officer on Monday. On Saturday, he completed the required 40-hour prebasic training with the Hebron Police Department, Chief Steve Sibbrell said.

That training, conducted in-house, includes firearms training, Sibbrell said, although reserve officers continue to get further training once they are working with the force.

Forty hours of training and Glickhauf thinks that pulling the trigger of his own gun will “seat the magazine properly”? Forty hours of training and he fails to exercise muzzle control? This guy shouldn’t be carrying a gun, never mind exercising police powers. But I bet he had racial sensitivity class.

Be that as it may, Glickhauf—thankfully not society—is paying the price for his ignorance.

Glickauf, who shattered his femur into eight pieces when the gun fired, will not physically be able to work with the police force for some time. And after he’s healed, “He’s going to have to go through a department review,” Sibbrell said.

See? Now that’s funny.

OK. Settle down people. Let’s review the Chief’s take on this. We can give the Chief a Mulligan for hiring—how do I put this gently?—a ballistically-challenged gun owner. But what we cannot abide is this:

“It’s just an unfortunate accident,” Sibbrell said, noting Glickauf had surgery on his leg on Wednesday and probably was still in the hospital.

No, it’s not. It’s a breakdown in the selection and training process that could have led to a terrible tragedy. A breakdown that we can lay at the doorstep of Chief Sibbrell. The Chief’s failure in the screening process was bad. His failure to take responsibility for that failure is worse.

It is my firmly held belief that cops don’t own their guns. Their superiors do. They’re responsible for what their men and women do with those weapons. When it goes wrong, they need to man-up and change what needs changing, from top (hiring) to bottom (training and re-training). Anything less is irresponsible.

11 Responses to Irresponsible Gun Owner of the Day: Chief Steve Sibbrell

  1. Eric: My guess is that the gun was a Springfield (most likely an XD) and the caliber was .40, formally called .40 S&W.

  2. Incidentally, this is by far the most common type of negligent discharge I saw in the military. Fortunatly, in the Army these discharges usually happen at the clearing barrel.

    A "Clearing Barrel" is a 55 gallon drum, filled up about 2/3 with sand, and sometimes having a screen over the top. Normally it is mounted at about a 45 degree angle upward at the entrance to a camp or other facility where weapons must be unloaded. Not sure when clearing barrels started, I first started seeing them when I deployed to the Balkans in 1997.

    The procedure is supposed to go like this: Soldier approaches the barrel, removes magazine from weapon and visually inspects the chamber, then lets the slide/bolt go forward, points the barrel of the weapon into the clearing barrel and pulls the trigger. Result should be a resounding "click." If it goes "bang" the soldier could face disciplinary action.

  3. …The negilgent discharges occur (almost always with an M9 pistol) because the soldier carelessly gets the sequence wrong: He/she first racks the slide (chambering a round, of course) and then drops the magazine. When the trigger is pulled – BANG! Normally the people who do this are those who are not familiar with pistols (you'd be amazed at how often soldiers who have never qualified with a pistol are allowed to carry one. And when I say "amazed," I mean shocked and disappointed.)

    • Agree. However, A retired soldier myself, I never could understand why the discleplenary action? The soldier followed procedure by using the clearing barrel. Yes, the weapon was not cleared properly or it would not have fired, but he still used PROPER SAFETY procedures.

  4. Chief Sibbrell does a fantastic job in the town of Hebron. This one incidence should not be put on him so harshly. He cannot be with his officers 24/7 and the last I checked, we are all humans and humans make errors in judgement. The most unfortunate happening here is the officer shot himself in the leg and did some serious damage to his person. The fortunate part here is that NO CHILDREN WERE HURT. Don’t forget that his gun was pointed down and I believe he was at least making the effort to be safe for the people around the area. I think its absurd that someone would take this story and turn it into something so demeaning. I think you need to grow up and realize that police officers….ESPECIALLY RESERVES…. are doing our towns a great justice. They do this work because they want to help our communities. If the county would let go of some of their $$, then maybe we could afford to pay better trained officers. Last I checked, you weren’t perfect. and…unfortunately….either am I.

  5. Before you go and spout off with some stupid article. Get ALL your facts straight…reserves in hebron and other towns also have to provide all their own gear from boots, uniform, vest and gun. What Dan did was stupid I will give you that. But why should Chief Sibbrell take any sort of responsibility for what Dan did on his personal time with his personal gun.

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