Tag Archives: firearms

ASUPD’s firearms training is far from “professional”

In the past, we’ve briefly mentioned some issues surrounding ASUPD’s firearms training unit, and its professional standards (we are discussing the unit as a whole). The problems surrounding firearms training at ASUPD have been already extensively documented within the department, through both formal and informal complaints. Unfortunately, the issues at hand have yet to be even broached within the department, and are still ongoing.

This list is by no means conclusive, but touches on the major issues department personnel have with ASUPD’s firearms training.

  1. ASUPD’s line-level officers must utilize an outdoor range, while ASUPD’s firearms instructors are allowed to utilize Tempe PD’s indoor range.
    • This is self-explanatory. Line-level officers have to suffer through 110+ degree weather and no shade to qualify, while the firearms instructors (and occasionally, an officer tight with the firearms crew) use Tempe PD’s indoor, air conditioned range.
  2. ASUPD’s outdoor range has no restroom facilities, no access to water or shade. 
    • The outdoor range in the summer time is like being in hell. It’s dirty, very hot, and very dry. Have to use the restroom? Hope using the open desert as your toilet is acceptable. One officer previously filed a complaint with OSHA regarding the lack of bathroom facilities. Did we mention the broken glass and garbage scattered around the range as well?desert
  3. The range is a very long commute for nearly all of ASUPD’s officers…and that commute doesn’t come with reimbursement for mileage (most officers use their POV).
  4. ASUPD’s officers aren’t provided ammo for practice before qualification.
    • Officers already don’t make very much, but having them bear the additional burden of paying for their own ammo to practice is ludicrous. Tempe PD’s officers make more than ASUPDs’, AND they still receive a box of ammo for training purposes per month.
  5. Some members of the firearms staff create a hostile training environment on the range.
    • While handling a firearm, the last thing an officer needs to be concerned about is being treated like a scolded child. Even in emails sent out to members of the department, some of the firearms staff come across as condescending and rude. Qualification is already stressful enough–you shouldn’t be assing up your employees BEFORE they even get to the range.
  6. The firearms training unit is similiar to a fraternity!
    • It is essentially a “good ole boy’s club”, and if you are not part of it, you are treated like an outsider. The mission and focus should be on making sure all your officers can successfully qualify, reinforcing good habits, emphasizing marksmanship…ie, TRAINING! The mark of a good instructor is measured by the officers that succeed.hay

ASUPD Firearms Frolic

These pictures are NOT indicative of a “professional” firearms unit, and convey how serious some of the instructors take their jobs.

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Firearms proficieny at ASUPD: why it’s a critical issue the Chief isn’t addressing.

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.

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