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  • #16
    Originally posted by Blackdog F4i View Post
    SURF - Do you have any particular case law cites regarding training vs. qualification. I think our firearms training section may have forgotten that since we have not had any "training" for regular officers in the last year. It was all quals and they seem to feel that is adequate. It would be nice to wake them up with court findings.
    The biggest thing we need to be aware of is Title 42, U.S. Code Section 1983. Next at an instructor level our biggest concern is first and foremost for the the safety of those that we train and providing the best possible training to help them survive an encounter on the street. Next we need to be concerned about Vicarious Liability and how it applies to us.

    Next up is "Deliberate Indifference" which usually applies to the agency at the admin level. Basically in several case histories the courts have ruled that there are certain training minimums that an agency is obligated to provide to their employees. Disregarding these training needs that have been deemed by the courts as so "Patently Obvious", specifically when a constitutional violation is a "highly predictable consequence" of the failure to train, is almost an automatic loss. We very much don't want to see our Officers or ourselves on the losing end of a Civil Rights type of case. Sucks for everyone involved.

    The USSC have already recognized and pointed out that municipalities and LE agencies have an affirmative duty to train the officers that they employ. Any breach of this duty to train, which may cause injury or death to a person can result in personal liability of the admin. Some of the court noted training topics and procedures that are so vitally important, that a failure to address them would constitute a failure to train include:

    - Moving Target Training
    - Reduced Light Training
    - Shoot No Shoot / Decision Making Training
    - Simulation / Scenario based training
    - Off duty specific training
    - A clearly defined firearms policy
    - Simulations that teach how these policies are applied in real situations

    Some court noted weaknesses include:
    - In-service firearms training only once per year
    - Disciplinary procedures inadequate
    - Initial training over 10 years ago

    As for qualifications, the USSC has already stated in commentary that qualification cannot be documented or accepted as training. Qualification only provides for an "achievement standard" as a test of the training that is provided. In other words the Quals in any topic are only there to validate and document the performance of the individual of the training that must be provided, and the quals in and of themselves does not equate to training. Many cases have hinged on this basis of whether or not there were any signs that indicated more training was needed in any particular area, for either the individual or the agency as a whole. I do know of several departments who count quals as training and even give ongoing training credit for these qual hours. This is however a big mistake. If anything were to happen and end up in court, the likelihood of bad outcome is high.

    Since we are in the Firearms section, as an example, in Popow v. Margate, firearms qualifications were held twice a year. The courts in this case stated that this was NOT enough qualification time to validate provided training. So we at least have a court opinion and ruling on the fact that at least 2 quals per year are not enough. My PD falls into this category and as a whole we only have annual departmental firearm qualification, however my division qualifies on a quarterly basis. Since I run our divisions program, I write the quals and ensure that they are conducted quarterly. I am not flexible on set standards, as a lot may come back directly to me. I am also one of the guys that has, or will have to take the stand to testify on behalf of the employer / Officer so firearms policy and proper documentation of training is very critical. We didn't exactly re-invent the wheel so to speak. We looked at other PD's of similar size with similar sized full time SWAT units, within our circuit and see what they do. You can pick and chose what may fit your needs. This is a good place for you to start also. Look to other PD's in your area.

    In any event the following are also a good place to start for case law. There are pages and pages of case law, but this is the meat and potatoes, and these cases will always be cited in similar circumstance.

    Popow v. Margate
    Canton v. Harris
    Zuchel v. Denver
    Belcher v. Foley
    Brown v. Gray
    Young v. Providence
    The comments made herein are those solely of author and in no way reflect the opinions of any other person, agency or other entity.

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