December 12, 2000 Tuesday Sunrise Edition Copyright 2000 The Oregonian The Oregonian December 12, 2000 Tuesday Sunrise Edition
(GRESHAM, Ore.) -- Police are reviewing a training exercise last week that left a Gresham officer with an injured eye from being hit with simulated ammunition.
Officer Joseph Ward, 39, a 13-year veteran of the Gresham Police Department, was struck in the left eye last Tuesday during a multi-agency Special Emergency Response Team exercise at Multnomah Greyhound Park in Fairview.
Ward remains off duty, and the extent of eye damage isn't clear, police officials said. A doctor will re-evaluate Ward's condition today.
Gresham Police Chief Bernie Giusto said Ward was injured during an exercise much like the one that killed a Clackamas County sheriff's deputy, William "Bill" Bowman, on Sept. 12 at Camp Rilea on the Oregon coast. An investigation of that shooting determined that live ammunition accidentally was loaded into a rifle used during the training exercise.
Giusto said Ward was not wearing safety glasses during the exercise and apparently was struck in the eye by simulated ammunition fired by another officer. The simulated round is a plastic-tipped projectile that contains a small amount of paint.
Not wearing protective glasses is a breach of protocol for such training exercises.
"That's just not acceptable," Giusto said. "Glasses have got to be worn."
Sgt. Jeff Hansen said team members were practicing an "active shooter" situation, which hones an officer's response to entering a building where hostages are being held.
"We were at the beginning of that phase of the exercise" when the accident occurred, Hansen said
Giusto said the review will focus on why the exercise continued if it was clear that Ward was not wearing the proper safety equipment.
"We should never be in that much of a hurry," Giusto said. "We're going to look at making sure there is a safety officer at the scene who has veto power over every aspect of the exercises.
"We have double checks and rechecks, but we don't have anyone whose specific task is safety. Obviously, every supervisor can stop the exercise at any time if he or she feels it's unsafe to continue."