Posted on Jun. 13, 2023 by TJ Alioto

It’s something I say at the end of every training article: Stay safe.

Now, normally I am referring to all my fellow law enforcement officers out there to stay safe as they go about their duties. Drive safe. Interact with people safely. Arrest people safely. Today, I am asking you to train safely.

I believe training safely can sometimes be taken for granted. We would like to think that our fellow officers wouldn’t do anything to put someone in harm’s way while training. We would like to think that there is no way one of us would bring live ammunition into a training scenario. But that is exactly what happened in November 2022 when a Texas officer was shot in the face during an active shooter training exercise.

Officer Lina Mino of the Sansom Park Police Department was shot by an officer from another agency during an exercise that was not supposed to have any live ammunition. The bullet travelled through Mino’s eye, into her brain, and exited through her ear. Miraculously, she survived the incident. The company that was brought in to conduct the training may not. Mino is now suing Texas Police Trainers LLC and their CEO over the incident.

So, what is the takeaway? What can we learn from an incident like this?

 

Safety Checks

One of the most effective ways to ensure a safe training environment is to do safety checks. This should be a multi-step and multi-level process.

The first check should be on the training location. Make sure there are not any weapons or items that could be used as a weapon in the training environment. Knives, baseball bats, etc. might be grabbed by a role player or officer when the adrenaline is flowing during a high-level training scenario. Once the location is deemed safe, nobody should be allowed in without being checked.

That leads us to officer checks. As a trainer, you should be setting up an outer boundary that, if crossed, that person WILL be checked for weapons. It does not matter if it is someone that is just observing or is actively participating. If you want to come in, you get searched.

Officer searches should be complete. Depending on the type of training you are running, you may take guns, ammunition, knives, OC, ECW devices, and batons away from officers. If someone brings an item to your training site, have them take it outside of your perimeter and secure it. If an officer leaves the site for any reason, they get checked again when they come back. Oh, by the way, this goes for all the trainers and role players as well. Nobody is immune from being checked.

Finally, make sure you check the weapons or other items that will be allowed in training. If you are using sim guns, make sure they are sims. Make sure you do not have any live ammo mixed in with sim ammo. If you are using props or training knives, verify that they are the training ones.

VirTra simulators use real firearms that utilize our drop-in recoil kits. If you are permanently making some of your firearms part of your VirTra training program, you may want to consider painting the guns so they are easily identifiable as a training weapon.

As with any other type of training, students stepping inside of a VirTra simulator should be going through the above safety checks before they start.

I want all of you to be here for the next training article, so please…

Stay/Train Safe!

 

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