New Study: Police Firearms Training Sucks

Just got an email blast from forcescience.org. A new study by Dr. Gregory Morrison finds law enforcement training woefully inadequate. The former officer and firearms instructor, now an associate CJ professor at Indiana’s Ball State University, doesn’t quite put it that way, but he should have. Amongst his findings . . .

• In terms of time allocation, “many departments still heavily emphasize requalifying over vital handgun/deadly force training” that introduces new skills and improves existing ones;

• Despite their “vital role,” nearly 40% of agencies do not require firearms instructors to take refresher training once they have been certified;

• Larger departments, which statistically have greater exposure to armed encounters, tend to require fewer firearms training and/or requalifying sessions per year;

• Officers on some agencies are able to pass requalification tests even though many of their shots miss the target entirely, and those who fail to qualify may be allowed to re-shoot until they squeak by, “sometimes without diagnostic and corrective intervention.”

• On whole, “the overarching characteristic” of in-service firearms training is the “wide latitude exercised by departments”–essentially a jumble of inconsistent standards and instructional modalities that too often works to the detriment of officers, agencies, and the communities they serve.

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About Robert Farago

Robert Farago is the Publisher of The Truth About Guns (TTAG). He started the site to explore the ethics, morality, business, politics, culture, technology, practice, strategy, dangers and fun of guns.

12 Responses to New Study: Police Firearms Training Sucks

  1. avatarRalph says:

    A few members of the local constabulary shoot at the same range I do on their own time, and they are adequate at best — and that’s with stationary targets. After their last training day, the local PD left their targets — simple paper plates — on the backboards. Most of the plates could be recycled for a backyard barbecue.

  2. avatar2yellowdogs says:

    While it’s all anecdotal, there certainly are a huge number of officers in the media who’ve done things that would easily qualify for TTAG’s Irresponsible Gun Owner of the Day award. This is, by far, my favorite:

  3. avatarRabbi says:

    I have been an instructor on several police quals. With the exception of a few officers it is very sad.

    • avatarRalph says:

      The best shooter in the local PD is a 21yo proby. The kid shoots 9mm and at ten yards he can dump his entire mag into the red, rapid fire. You can cover his group with a quarter. I’ve seen it, and the kid is scary good. The rest of the LEOs are mostly just scary.

  4. avatarRyan Finn says:

    I was lucky I guess. We had a very good firearms instructor who held training every 3 weeks (unfortunately not mandatory. and made sure we were working on something that was actually helpful, instead of standing there and shooting at stationary targets. Our qualifications were fast paced and had a good variety of movement and shooting positions. Those of us that were serious about our training did very well and I still consider myself an excellent shot thanks to our instructor. That being said, some of the deputies felt that they didn’t have to attend training definitely suffered in the marksmanship department. Especially some of the older guys, but their excuse was they had to shoot “these damn plastic guns”.

  5. avatarJOE MATAFOME says:

    I know several police officers who are excellent shooters, and they practice on a regular basis in order to maintain their skills. As we all know if you don’t practice, practice, practice(did I say PRACTICE enough time) you lose that edge.

  6. avatarJOE MATAFOME says:

    I was at the range a few years back, and there were 3 armored car guards(a well known company) with their instructor. I was amazed at how bad these guys were “attempting” to shoot. I spoke with there instructor and he told me that most guards can’t afford to shoot on a regular basis. He also told me that they were only allowed to carry revolvers so that they couldn’t shoot more than six innocent people. At first I thought he was trying to be funny, but after watching these guys (barney fife would be proud) I really think he was telling me the truth.

  7. avatarFederale says:

    It is just punching paper once a quarter. 70%. Nothing more.

  8. avatarMike the Limey says:

    I only get to shoot handgun two or three times a year when in the US – usually involving a couple of practical pistol competitions & with no chance to practice here in the UK.
    On several occasions when LEO’s have been competing I’ve outscored them.

    It is in EVERYONE’S (except the criminals) best interests that officers can shoot effectively & it amazes me how many can’t shoot or wont train to do so.

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