APD to Increase Weapons Training
By Era Sundar, KUT News
The Austin Police Department is ramping up weapons training in April. Officers will be required to train monthly with service weapons. Right now, they have to show gun proficiency just once a year.
“Basically, in this state, the only requirement is that you qualify with your service pistol once,” said Austin Police Chief Art Acevedo. “To me, that’s just not enough.”
Acevedo said the switch to monthly training will ensure that APD officers are ready to perform when lives are on the line.
“The monthly training is not just going to be marksmanship; it’s going to actually be tactics, scenerio-based training that will prepare our folks for what they’re going to encounter on the streets,” he said. “We actually, when I first got here, purchased – we were the first department in the nation to – what’s called a Laser Shot trailer… that teaches officers critical-thinking skills, helps them work on escalation [and] de-escalation tactics, and most importantly, helps us as a department.”
Robert Bossey is executive director of the International Association of Law Enforcement Firearms Instructors.
“We recommend that they qualify at least on a semiannual basis,” Bossey said. “We also strongly recommend that they do dim-light training with those weapons systems at least twice a year and [that] they perform in-service training over and above their annual training qualifications on a quarterly basis.”
The APD is also requiring that all officers use the same type of weapon. Lt. Joseph Chacon said this saves money and increases efficiency.
“Every officer is going to know exactly what the officer next to him is carrying,” Chacon said. “If they get involved in a critical incident and somebody has to pick up somebody else’s weapon or has to provide ammunition to them, then we’re all carrying the same thing.”
Chief Acevedo said the department in Austin uses deadly force 50 percent less than the national average. But the Justice Department did conduct a probe into the APD’s use of force policies following instances of officers shooting suspects under questionable circumstances.