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N.C. Chief Loses Badge After Failing Firearms Qualification

April 11, 2012  | 

The Richlands (N.C.) Police Department chief has lost his badge and gun after failing the department's firearms qualification test.

Thomas Bennett, who has been the Richlands police chief since 1999, was suspended as a law enforcement officer by the state's Criminal Justice Standards Division on Feb. 7, reports the Jacksonville Daily News.

Chief Bennett scored well below a passing grade on the test, which is graded on a 1-100 scale. He recorded a 40. The chief, who is retiring in July, has also lost the privilege to drive a patrol car.

Comments (9)

Displaying 1 - 9 of 9

bpd3733 @ 4/12/2012 6:57 PM

Why was this made public? He should have received remedial training and retested. This all should have been handled privately. Sounds like somebody has a personal grudge against him.

Frank @ 4/13/2012 3:18 AM

I agree with bpd 3733! What is this all about? Nice way to handle a guy that served his community and is part of the Law Enforcement community.

GF @ 4/13/2012 5:39 AM

As a chief you become a target for some because you never can make a decision that thrills everyone! This man was retiring in July and they chose to humiliate him 4 months before retirement. I agree that this could have been handled internally and it is a demonstration of just how vengeful people can be. My sympathies to him. Even if he wasn't a great leader, he obviously served enough to receive the respect due the office in allowing him to retire in dignity. Shame on whomever let the information go viral. Was it really worth it?

Larry @ 4/13/2012 5:42 AM

Sounds like a witch hunt!

Random @ 4/13/2012 7:39 AM

If you are reading this Mr.Thomas Bennett. Thank you for the hard work. Enjoy you retirement. Sorry for the unpleasant politics at the end.

JAFO @ 4/13/2012 8:46 AM

More than likely it is because of a reporter wanting to take a slap at the police. I figure the chief is another victim of a freedom of information request or a state proceeding that has to be public. Thanks for all the hard work Chief!

Doug M. @ 4/13/2012 9:09 AM

I agree that it is kind of classless to make such things a big public issue, there is a legitimate public interest in our performance. There is also no excuse for being incapable of demonstrating threshold minimum performance ability (we all know that the standards and training for fitness, shooting, etc, are low). At least a command officer is being held to the same standard as the worker bees - a lot of agencies would never have even considered testing him, or that this is a problem.

Lee @ 4/13/2012 4:28 PM

This should not be public information at all...He should have been able to attend training and re-test. Chief Bennet, I truly hope your life is full of great moments after retirement!

R. G. Montgomery @ 4/17/2012 1:38 PM

Ladies and Gentleman, I have no interest in kicking the Chief while he's down, but 40% on a pistol qualification? That's bad. One wonders if he’s just not a shooter or are his eyes and/or hands failing?

My observation of qualifications is, "Qualification courses are designed to be passed by the greatest percentage of members with the least amount of bother." The minimum standard is met and the department has done ‘due diligence’. Qualification courses are not onerous, to save money and man-hours.

The agencies where I worked provide a minimum of three attempts to qualify on range day. One receives the highest score of the bunch. Non quals are scheduled for remedial training and qualification.

The article references the North Carolina Criminal Justice Standards Division as the authority pulling the Chief’s badge. Presumably they are the authority that establishes the criteria. Does anyone know the course of fire and the remedial procedure for North Carolina? I’d be willing to bet it isn’t ‘one try and you’re out’. I'd like to know how many attempts he was allowed under the North Carolina Criminal Justice Standards Division rules.

I looked up the Richlands, N. C. website. The PD has six full time officers, two part timers and auxiliaries. Chief Bennett is still listed as the Chief. He is retiring shortly; what would be the need to force him out or embarrass him? In a small department like this, how easy would it be for the Chief to fiddle the qual results? But he didn’t.

A manager who didn’t fiddle the rules for his own convenience? What a fine legacy. Enjoy your life, Chief.

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