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LEO Near Miss: SWAT operator nearly shot during shoot house training

Operators must be given detailed and consistent instruction to always stay in their lines of fire

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Law Enforcement Officer (LEO) Near Miss is a voluntary, non-disciplinary officer safety initiative that allows law enforcement personnel to read about and anonymously share stories of close calls or “near misses,” which provide lessons learned that can protect fellow officers in similar situations.

Event Summary

We set up a live-fire training scenario designed to keep operators focused on their line of fire and to teach them to rely on other operators to do their jobs.

The scenario was set up in a 360-degree shoot house. We covered a target with a piece of furniture so the officer who entered and ran his wall would not see it. The target was intended to be picked up by the third operator to enter the room, whose assignment was to move off-center and control the room.

As the exercise proceeded and the team entered the room, the officer running his wall came off the wall to engage the target. As he did so, he started to step into the line of fire that the third operator, who was controlling the room, was putting on the target.

I saw this error occurring from my position on the catwalk, and I screamed for a stoppage. Thankfully, the operator wasn’t shot in the back.

Lessons Learned

  • The operator should not have come off his wall and should have stayed in his area of responsibility. Training staff could have set up the situation in a manner that would have been safer.
  • Training staff learned to anticipate the natural movement of operators and learned how to set up scenarios that minimize the risk of injury during live-fire drills. Additionally, training staff now walk through the scenarios before having the operators participate in them.
  • Operators must be given detailed and consistent instruction to always stay in their lines of fire and recognize the lethal risk of stepping outside their lines.

HOW TO SUBMIT YOUR NEAR MISS

Support this critical officer safety initiative by reading and sharing the near-miss stories and lessons learned that your fellow officers have shared, and consider sharing your own near-miss experiences at LEOnearmiss.org.

NEXT: Read more from the LEO Near Miss archives here

Established in 1970, the National Policing Institute, formerly the National Police Foundation, is an independent, non-partisan, and non-profit research organization, sometimes referred to as a think-tank, focused on pursuing excellence in policing through science and innovation. Our research and applied use of research guide us as we engage directly with policing organizations and communities to provide technical assistance, training, and research and development services to enhance safety, trust, and legitimacy. To view our work, visit us at www.policinginstitute.org.
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