Standards

By Ryan Johnson

05/08/2018

Standards: 1. a level of quality or attainment. synonyms: quality, level, grade, caliber, merit, excellence.

What standards do we place upon ourselves when working in an environment with others who do similar tasks (e.g. shooting)? What level of accountability should we have for our lack of proficiency when it comes to training? 

These are serious and in my opinion massively overlooked questions that need to be posed in todays law enforcement arena.

These are serious and in my opinion massively overlooked questions that need to be posed in todays law enforcement arena. With the ever evolving criminal element that lives among us in todays society, it has never been more critical to obtain, maintain and continue to train in all things that surround the life saving field. Throughout my years as a police officer, I have seen all types of cops from my own department as well as nationally during various training courses. Some were like minded and showed a desire to strive for continual growth within this lifestyle. Others were less inclined to show motivation to gain knowledge in areas of weakness or inefficiency. This is where the issue of standards comes into question. The great majority of agencies nationally have some form of weapons qualification that is completed as a mandatory course of fire 2 to 4 times a year depending on the department. Generally speaking these qualifications are fairly basic and don't include much stress other than maybe a generous par time for each course of fire. Many officers who's priorities on training are not in tune will shoot their service weapons only when required to. This is a big problem in my opinion and one that should be addressed through mandatory evaluations of weapons proficiency under more stringent training platforms. The intent would not be to make everyone a competition level shooter but rather to expose and improve upon the deficiencies of individual officers. 

Training bureaus can coordinate with these well trained officers in many ways which can effect the masses within a department.

There are simple solutions to which this type of problem can be remedied. First, make access to progressive courses more available with a greater list of department vetted trainers and companies that officers can utilize. What I mean by progressive is Pistol or Rifle 1, 2, 3. This will allow for lesser skilled officers to grow in their training at a safe and reasonable pace. Courses should be either paid for through departments or have some sort of reimbursement program that officers can use to recoup money spent to become greater assets to their departments. This type of paid training does exist in some departments once courses are approved, however it isn't made to be mandatory so many opportunities for training are either passed up or overlooked by officers who aren't prioritizing that part of the job. Another great resource for training is already within many departments. Certain individuals have taken it upon themselves to become great at shooting through training outside their minimum required qualifications. Many shoot matches on their days off and practice weapons manipulations and safety on their own time. Some of these individuals may even be on various specialized units within various departments. Training bureaus can coordinate with these well trained officers in many ways which can effect the masses within a department. Vetting them and then acquiring their input on better training programs, qualifications and courses could greatly impact the proficiency of a department. The final push to tipping the scales of mediocrity and increased standards would be the introduction of “mandatory” courses which officers could choose from. Many could choose courses they feel they are lacking in, others could try learning a new method or skill builder through a course thats relative to skills they may already have. Class sizes would remain smaller to allow for greater focus on individual shooter growth and could also be shortened to 3-5 hours of instruction, this could allow for officers to potentially work scheduled shifts as well as not deter them from attending the long drawn out courses that tend to lose steam. 

The current threats officers face are real and evolving at a rapid rate. Understandably many officers have lives, hobbies and interests outside of police work. However, those lives, hobbies and interests could very easily be taken away at a moments notice if the proficiency level of our brothers and sisters is compromised by those wishing us harm. Do everything you can to stay a professional and a reliable source of help when its needed.

Stay safe. 



Article By Ryan Johnson
Law Enforcement, Shooting, Long Range
Former U.S. Army Infantry and current SWAT officer on the West Coast. His experience as a shooter and sniper is as valuable as his perspective from both military and law enforcement careers.

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