Ready, Aim, Ready?

The New York Times has a great article "Ready, Aim, Ready? that discusses the importance of not only traditional firearms training but the need for scenario based training. Firearms skills are perishable and decision making skills the same hold true, the skills are perishable. Combining the physical skills with the cognitive ability to decide under pressure even more so. The article does not question the quality of the training but it does raise important questions as to the quantity of training needed to stay on top of our game. This type of training includes free play force on force, tactical decision games or decision making exercises and after action reviews. It's an important article for law enforcement to read.

Ready, Aim, Ready?

Armed with cap guns and the usual apprehension, two recruits from the New York Police Academy knocked on the door of a set in the Bronx meant to resemble a down-at-the-heels apartment. They had just received a radio assignment from an instructor: 911 had taken a complaint about an “E.D.P.” — an emotionally disturbed person — in their sector. They were told to report to the location and advise.

As they entered the apartment last week — “This is the police!” — three more instructors in blue jeans started to enact a not-uncommon situation: The disturbed man, rejecting pleas to take his medication, suddenly pulled a knife on the officers and his own family. With hands at their holsters, the trainees had to improvise: They talked the armed man down, radioed for backup and hurriedly escorted the family out the door.

All the while, injecting real stress into the simulation, 30 of their classmates watched from above. Ringed around the railings of a balcony, their fellow cadets were looking down at them as if from the mezzanine of an Elizabethan stage.

The drill took place in what is called the Tactics House at Rodman’s Neck, the Police Department’s firearms training center in the Bronx, and it ended that day with nothing graver than a few bruised egos and some pointed words from the instructors. But in late September, a chilling similar situation in the real world did not turn out as well.

An elite team of officers in Harlem responded to a call at the home of Mohamed Bah, a taxi driver holed up naked in his apartment with a 13-inch knife. When the officers forced the door, Mr. Bah attacked, the police said, stabbing two officers in their protective vests. The rest fought back with Tasers, rubber bullets and, eventually, their side arms. Mr. Bah, 28, was killed.

Although events like this receive outsize attention, police shootings — especially those resulting in fatalities — are rare. Last year, according to the department’s Annual Firearms Discharge Report, an exhaustive analysis of each police bullet fired during the year, the 35,000 officers on the force encountered an estimated 23 million civilians, and on 92 occasions, a bullet was actually fired. Of those shootings, 19 led to injuries and a smaller number, 9, resulted in a death. According to those odds, you are much more likely to be killed in New York City in a car crash or by a heart attack than you are by the police.

Read the rest of this article here: