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Special Report: Preventing Training Tragedies

January 01, 2003  |  by - Also by this author

In this issue of POLICE magazine, we address one of the greatest pressing concerns of police executives and law enforcement: the growing number of serious accidents and even deaths in police training.

No one agency or governmental body maintains records and statistics of police training accidents; consequently, much of our data is anecdotal. But we talked to a lot of people for this report, all of them veteran trainers with long and distinguished careers in law enforcement or law enforcement instruction, and none challenged the basic assumption that training accidents have taken their toll on the lives of police officers.

Some training accidents rank among the greatest of tragedies in law enforcement. In the last three years alone, there have been several cases of cops being killed at the hands of their buddies who mistakenly fired live ammunition during force-on-force simulations.

Other training accidents are seemingly trivial, unless they happen to you. Twisted knees, broken fingers, chipped teeth are not going to make newspaper headlines or result in grand jury investigations, but good trainers worry about such things because they are by definition preventable accidents.

Of course, not all training accidents, even those that result in crippling or even fatal injuries, can be prevented. Experienced trainers will tell you stories of freakish things that have happened in their programs that no one could have expected.

But inevitable accidents are not the concern of this report. Our motivation for dedicating so much space to this topic was simple: helping officers train more effectively and more safely. In a truly dangerous world that requires skilled and professional law enforcement, we can think of no better use for our pages.

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