“On Tuesday evening, the Salinas City Council voted to give the police department the go ahead to buy 70 new shotguns for $47,905, specifically Remington 870s with a price tag of approximately $627 each,” thecalifornian.com reports. As for the cost of training . . .
A cadet goes through an average of 300 rounds during the academy . . . The Salinas Police Department currently has 141 officers and eight officers in the academy who are set to graduate in August.
So that’s 149 officers firing 300 rounds — 44,700 rounds — during their initial shotgun training. At 26.8¢ per round (Lucky Gunner) that’s $11,622. Not a lot, right? Especially for a police force with a current annual budget of $11,882,687.
You’d kinda hope that some of that budget would go towards ongoing training for shotgun-equipped Salinas cops. Dream on. While I can’t find a breakdown of their budget, I’d bet dollars to donuts the Salina PD has allocated zero dollars for ongoing shotgun training.
The cold hard truth: police departments devote precious little time or money (same thing) to firearms training. In fact, many don’t offer any ongoing training, restricting expenditures to the cost of yearly or bi-yearly firearms qualifications.
Let’s do the math. First from ammoland.com:
A typical police qualification course might be about 100 rounds, and a cop might shoot that once or twice a year. I know of one state where officers are required to shoot a 30-round qualification twice a year…60 rounds total per year.
Salinas is a small force. Again, we’re talking 149 officers. Figure 100 rounds times two times a year times 149 officers for a total of nearasdammit 30,000 rounds per year. At $250 to $300 per 1000 rounds that’s $7,500 to $9,000 for annual qualification ammo.
That’s before the costs of storing the ammo, maintaining the range, staffing the quals and paying for the time officers aren’t on the job. So double the total spend to about $20,000. Double it again if you want to give Salinas cops some regular training, rather than just the bi-yearly quals.
I reckon it would cost Salinas a minimum of $80,000 to $100,000 to ensure their cops have reasonable shooting skills (the quality of their training is another issue entirely). To kick that up a notch, to give 149 officers range time on a regular basis, double it again. That would be at least $160,000 to $200,000 per year.
So why don’t they spend it? We’ll get to that. Another example . . .
The LAPD employs approximately 9,000 sworn officers. Now we’re looking at 1.8 million rounds for semi-annual 100-round quals, racking-up $450,000 to $540,000 in range ammo. (Hollow-point carry ammunition is significantly more expensive.) Using my back-of-the-envelope math, I make that a minimum of $2.16 million to train LA cops up to some kind of acceptable firearms standard.
Even if you double that again (the cost of government bureaucracy plus hollow points plus some trigger time on rifles and shotguns) that would suck a relatively paltry $4,320,000 out of the LAPD’s total annual police budget of $1,486,168,297/
Bottom line: it would cost Salinas and LA less than five percent of their total police budget to create and run a basic firearms training program, to make sure their cops can hit what they’re aiming at and, perhaps, maintain some gunfighting skills.
Unfortunately, police firearms training doesn’t have the political support enjoyed by everything else included in law enforcement budgets. Spending taxpayer money on body cams and community outreach? Sure! Spend money to train police how to shoot people? That’s crazy talk!
I’m speaking literally. This year, the LAPD is asking taxpayers for $6.5 million to buy 7,000 body cameras for police officers. “Cultural affairs” is set to drain $12,387,660 from the LAPD’s annual spend. That’s about four times what LA could — I believe should — spend on basic police firearms training.
Bottom line: cops are lousy in gunfights because they don’t receive adequate training, because towns and cities don’t value that training, because politicians believe voters don’t care or actively oppose spending money on firearms training.
I wonder how much cities and towns shell out for settlements after “bad shoots.” And how much cops spend out of their own pockets to make sure they’re ready to defend themselves and other innocent life by force of arms.