The friendly fire shooting incidents of 2 heroic NYPD Police Officers, Brian Mulkeen and Brian Simonsen, within a year brings into question the training of NYPD Officers.
First, let me be clear, the blame for the death of these officers goes squarely on the perpetrators.
I spent 20-plus years as a Police Officer in NYC, and I always thought that once you left the Police Academy, our training was inadequate. Yes, we qualified twice a year at Rodmans Neck with our weapons and sat through several hours of classroom lectures. We even had occasional training throughout the year, where you sat in a classroom all day listening to boring lectures.
The most recent friendly fire incident which resulted in the death of an officer was that of Officer Brian Mulkeen.
Officer Mulkeen reportedly chased an armed perp and tackled him and was then in a wrestling match with the perp for his weapon. Other officers opened fire to stop the perp, and several rounds hit Officer Mulkeen. This was an enormous tactical error; you never shoot from afar. When an officer and a perp are wrestling, they are on top of each other, and the chances of you hitting the perp would be a lucky one. The other officers should have also engaged in the altercation to help Mulkeen and, if required, then shot the perp at a point-blank range which would have saved Mulkeen from friendly fire. Why did this not go through the other officer's heads, what did they lack?
The first friendly fire incident which occurred in February of this year is that of Detective Brian Simonsen, who also was accidentally killed by fellow officers while responding to a robbery.
The problem with Police Departments and training is a lack of funds, and politicians are more concerned with wasting money than putting it to good use. Every time I turn around, politicians are screaming about the Police Officer's lack of training. However, they never give departments the money they require to train officers continuously and adequately.
Take, for instance, the case of Officer Daniel Pantaleo, who was fired for using a chokehold on Eric Garner. Now, whose fault was it that Garner is dead besides that of Garner? It was the department's, because it never adequately trained Pantaleo how to take down such a large man.
You look back at all these incidents, and proper, consistent training would have prevented these from occurring.
When you attend the police academy, you are taught some holds, boxing, and wrestling techniques. Once you graduate, you are never retrained on any of these.
Boxing is the most useless of them all — in the hundreds of altercations I have been in with perps never once did I ever box with a perp.
Police Officers are never consistently trained; therefore, in a week, you forget the useless techniques you learn at the academy. To be proficient in the tactics that will make it easier for you to take down a perp is long-term consistency. This requires two to three times a week, to where it becomes second nature. I know because I have taken all types of martial arts, and the only thing I recommend to all officers is Krav Maga and Jujitsu. I take both now, and to remember the moves and utilize them properly, you must train all the time. Police Departments and politicians are not willing to spend the money; therefore, we have unfortunate incidents.
Experience and training — that's my conclusion, and the lack of it is what killed these officers.
Do I think that the officers involved should be disciplined? My answer is no. Why? Because they acted in good faith. The departments must demand more funds from the politicians who keep on blaming the police for the lack of training, and if the politicians deny that money than the lives of officers and civilians are on their hands.
Harry Houck is a former CNN law enforcement analyst, retired NYPD Detective First Grade, and USMC veteran. Follow him on Twitter, @HarryJHouck, or Facebook. To read more of his reports — Click Here Now.
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