Police firearms and the 'surprise readiness' drill

Officer survival mindset is all about being properly prepared and knowing that all your equipment is good to go each and every time

A total of 45 officers were in roll call. I was giving out assignments, reviewing policy changes, reading memorandums, praising fellow officers, doing a visual check of each officer’s readiness, listing recent crime trends and providing time away from the public view for each to bitch. It is important to send the officers out on a positive note.

After the troops hit the bricks, I completed the supervisor’s paperwork and took time to think of ways to ensure the shift was always prepared for the job. Keeping the edge sharp on survival was always a priority for me.

Approximately four hours into the shift I advised dispatch, by telephone, to randomly request six officers to respond to my office. Just respond without giving any reason. Once all six were present, I asked them to follow me. The police building has a firearms range on the first floor. I was about to hold a surprise readiness drill.

All them were provided with eye and ear protection and requested to fire four rounds into a target. Prior to their arrival I had set up targets in all six lanes. They were instructed not to touch their firearms, just put on their protective gear and enter the range. All were to fire on my command.

Startling Results
All six officers had semi-auto pistols. One officer’s weapon was not charged, one officer’s weapon jammed due to having too many rounds in the magazine, and one officer when unholstering his weapon, two pens fell out.

The other three officers fired without incident. After each had fired, I checked all their magazines to ascertain if each had the proper department issued ammunition and that all magazines were loaded to capacity.

Each of the three who performed less than satisfactory had a number of excuses. I accept no excuses for weapons not being properly in the ready mode. Their reasons were not important. They apologized for their actions. I told them not to apologize to me but to direct their apologizes to their fellow officers for not being ready and not taking their profession seriously. They should also apologize to their families for letting them down.

Each officer who failed this readiness drill was scheduled for remedial firearms training and informed that spot checks would become part of their lives. One more mistake such as this, and it would be time to find another line of work.

Seldom a Second Chance
This is serious business requiring one’s full attention and dedication. Life and death, yours, a fellow officer, a victim, or an innocent bystander rest in the balance of officer preparedness, safety and survival skills. In an environment that is based on action verse reaction seldom is there a second chance to perform a function that needs to be done correctly the first time.

By the time these officers realized their weapons were not ready, it would be disastrous and too late. There are too many possibilities to process as to why the weapon was not firing when the trigger was pulled.

A police sidearm not charged is a useless piece of metal. It is some sort of impact weapon and not an appropriate choice in a deadly force situation. A magazine with one round too many would cause the officer to take his or her attention from the crisis at hand. The weapon had a double feed. This brought up questions about the officer’s ability to clear malfunctions under fire.

I happened to watch the officer with the pens in the holster remove his firearm. He realized something was falling out of his holster and he looked to the ground, away from the threat.

Officer survival mindset is all about being properly prepared and knowing that all your equipment is good to go each and every time.

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