March 7, 2007
Charlottesville police trainees qualified in weapons handling and proficiency Wednesday afternoon. One week of their police academy training is focused on handling and shooting a gun.
"I was jerking the gun a little bit anticipating the shots but as the two days we've trained have gone on I have gotten better with it" said Christian Walter, Charlottesville Police trainee.
Trainees learn how to use different weapons, in different positions, and it's not as easy as it looks.
Officers in training are taught to shoot to center of the target or torso. Instructor Lt. Gary Pleasants says the idea of shooting someone in the leg or arm to disable them is not practical.
"You can't take a chance of trying to wound somebody most of the time it will not work, the officer or someone else can still then be killed" said Pleasants.
But officers are not taught to shoot to kill, they are taught to stop the threat.
"Hopefully none of them will ever be involved in a real shooting on the street and if it does occur what we want them to be able to do is to mentally handle the situation and physically as far as shooting the weapon be able to handle the situation" said Pleasants.
"Its something we don't want to have to use but if we do have to use we need to be able to do it effectively" said Jon Freivald, Charlottesville Police trainee.
Charlottesville trainees must complete 15 weeks at the academy and another 14 weeks of field training before they hit the streets on their own.