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NYPD Needs More Firearms Training, Critics Say

While the training that officers do receive is high quality, it doesn't happen frequently enough, say critics.

Critics say that New York City Police Department recruits and officers receive high-quality firearm training, but it doesn’t happen frequently enough, according to the New York Times.

Outside of the police academy classroom, cadets only practice real-world situations with their firearms for three days, and full-fledged officers only head to Rodman’s Neck – the NYPD’s shooting range in the Bronx – twice a year. A third day is spent at the department’s “Tactical Village,” a mock streetscape where they role-play handling different violent scenarios.

“You have them out on the streets with a weapon, possibly taking someone’s life,” a former instructor at the Rodman’s Neck shooting range told the Times, on the condition of anonymity, “and they’re not receiving all that much in terms of real training.”

After the November 2006 death of 23-year-old Sean Bell, who was killed by police fire on the night before his wedding day, the NYPD hired the RAND Corporation to investigate their firearms training programs.

The 2008 report said that between 4,000 recruits and nearly 35,000 officers passing each year through Rodman’s Neck, training had been rushed.

“The size of the class in attendance ... and the limited amount of time allocated to the role-playing exercises meant that no single recruit participated in more than one exercise and that approximately half of the recruits did not have an active role in any exercise,” the report said, according to the Times.

Fortunately, police shootings, and those resulting in fatalities, are rare. According to the department’s Annual Firearms Discharge Report, out of 35,000 officers on the force, only 92 bullets were fired. Of those shootings, 19 led to injuries, and 9 resulted in death.

Because bullets are rarely fired, the NYPD doesn’t want to spend more money on more training, says the unnamed source at Rodman’s Neck.

But Commissioner Ray Kelly balked at the idea that the budget was the reason for a lack of extra training, and said the police department was doing the best they could with the available resources, according to the Times.

“You can always train more,” Kelly told the paper. “We can train people 30 days a year, 40 days a year. But obviously we have an obligation to get people on the street. We’re down 6,000 police officers already. How much training do you do?”

Gary L. Griffiths December 11, 2012 at 04:59 PM
I have always been critical of the lack of real training that force-on-force scenarios provide. Typically there is time for only three or four scenarios per day, and each involves up to five officers, of which only one makes the decision. In 30 minutes I can run an officer through five realistic scenarios on a judgmental use-of-force simulator for a fraction of the cost force-on-force training. There is no reason the NYPD couldn't provide this level of training to its officers at least quarterly, if not monthly.
Paraderest December 15, 2012 at 05:14 PM
NYPD firearms training is a joke. Twice a year they have their cops shoot 100 rounds at a paper target in a controlled enviornment. 78 holes are needed in the shaded area of the target (which is rather large) in order to pass. No tactical courses, no decision making, no variation...just a paper target and 2 boxes of ammo.
BRADY December 15, 2012 at 08:38 PM
and you say that all of the thousands of NYPD officers can be trained in thirty minutes in a simulator ,quarterly, if not monthly,then why isn't the NYPD doing this now why not buy these simulators and hire you to instruct them all
BRADY December 15, 2012 at 08:47 PM
NYPD firearms training is a joke! if you know all this info on their lack of training why haven't you done anything to change it and exactly how many cops can you take off the street and for how long before there trained properly. OH WAIT it could be done in thirty minutes

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