One major issue we here at THR haven’t been able to address yet has been firearms proficiency; partially because of the sheer magnitude and depth of the issue, and partially due to the fact that so much of the problems with firearms training have been shrouded in so much secrecy.
There are laws/policies in place which very clearly state firearms qualification requirements.
Let’s do a quick recap of what ASUPD claims its standards are. According to ASUPD’s policy manual:
An Officer must:
- Qualify at scheduled range sessions.
- If the Officer fails on the first attempt, he or she will obtain immediate training from the Rangemaster, or designee, before making the second attempt.
A Rangemaster must, for any Officer who fails to qualify during the initial range session:
- Complete a memorandum and provide copies to the Officer, the Officer’s supervisor, and the Officer’s Commander.
- Indicate on the form that the first 30 days have been forfeited if this is the second required course during the calendar year on which the Officer has failed during the initial range session.
- Schedule remedial training of up to eight hours and a re-qualification shoot.
The Officer’s Commander:
- Reassign the Officer to an administrative position for up to 30 work days pending qualification.
- Inform the Officer that he or she is not to carry any firearm in a law enforcement capacity, is not eligible for overtime duty, and is not to perform any off-duty work in a law enforcement capacity for the duration of the administrative assignment.
Officer fails to qualify, and he or she has not previously failed in another course:
- Instruct the Officer to remain on administrative duty pending qualification for up to 60 work days from date of the original failure to qualify.
- Provide the Officer with a second remedial training session of up to eight hours and a qualification shoot.
If he or she has previously failed in another course that year or has failed to qualify again after the attempt as noted above:
- Forward a request for disciplinary action to the Chief of Police through the chain of command.
- The Chief of Police may impose suitable disciplinary action, most often termination for failure to maintain skills necessary to perform an essential job function.
- Probationary Officers will always be terminated for failure to qualify within the allotted time.
- Disciplinary actions other than termination will only be considered, if there are overwhelming mitigating circumstances affecting the failure to qualify.
First of all, WHY DO WE HAVE OFFICERS STRUGGLING TO QUALIFY WHEN WE HAVE 7+ RANGE “INSTRUCTORS”?! That’s about 10 officers to every ONE instructor (with such low numbers, the officer to instructor ratio is even lower). You’re such an “elite” bunch of instructors, so PROVE IT. Being a decent firearms instructor is measured by how many officers you can get to shoot well consistently, NOT how many AR-15s you have or how many classes you’ve taken, or how well you can shoot.
Secondly, there is a great disparity in how people are treated if they have problems qualifying. There are several people who consistently fail qualification and aren’t assigned to desk duty, but instead allowed to work patrol because of staffing problems (THIS IS A HUGE SAFETY ISSUE!!! WHY IS THIS EVEN HAPPENING!?) Then are others who get put on admin leave and are threatened with the loss of their job while receiving virtually NO significant amount of training.
Thirdly, why is no one above the rank of Sergeant required to qualify in front of others at Gila River, but instead have their peers evaluate them at Tempe PD’s air conditioned range? This includes range instructors too! They are all miraculously expert shooters.
How can the Chief look at these issues and think this system has any sort of integrity, is safe, and seems to be working? When you have people consistently failing to qualify, maybe as a leader you should look at the systemic issue, instead of dismissing it on an individual level.
Maybe instill confidence in your officers through adequate training instead of holding their jobs over their heads every time they head to the range?! That would be a good place to start.