Closer look at how police officers are trained - ABC 12 – WJRT – Flint, MI

Closer look at how police officers are trained

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(09/13/12) - One area sure to come under review in the Milton Hall police shooting case is the department's procedures when it comes to firing weapons.

ABC12's Terry Camp took a closer look at how police officers are trained.

"If you train properly, then you will react under stress like you trained, so you will survive," said Mike Brooks, a former Saginaw Police officer, who is now an instructor at the Delta College Police Academy.

Recruits at the academy go through various training programs to become a police officer, including the use of a firearm.

The recruits have to hit their marks each time before they can pass the academy.

Recruits will fire about 1,000 rounds from a handgun during the academy, even though there is a good chance these future officers will never fire a gun at a person.

"The only time I used mine was to dispatch an animal, like white tail deer, that were hit by automobiles," said Kevin Wirth, Delta College Police Academy.

Wirth worked for the Midland County Sheriff's Department for more than 31 years, and never shot a human being. But the recruits have to be ready, getting this training in a close-combat scenario.

"They have to work in accordance with their handgun retention skills, their close combat skills, and their hands on training for, we call it DT, defensive tactics, so they could have to step out of one line, and in a quick line of handgun firing, versus hands on training," Wirth said.

Once the recruits pass the academy, they have to continue keeping their shooting skills at a high level.

"Firearm training is a perishable skill, so unless you keep up and practice, your accuracy will deteriorate," Wirth said.

They will practice with shotguns and long guns as well, but handgun training is the most challenging.

"It's the hardest gun to maintain their accuracy due to their short barrel length, and their short sight radius," Wirth said.

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