Active Shooter: Coming to a Theater Near You? Advice From the Front Line

By Scott Buhrmaster | Calibre Press

The mass shooting at the Century 16 movie theater in Aurora, CO in 2012 stands as one of the most murderous events in recent memory. 12 people were killed and 70 were injured after tactically clad active shooter James Holmes opened fire on terrified theatergoers during a midnight screening of the Batman movie The Dark Knight Rises.

The incident was not only deadly, it was also tactically eye-opening. As law enforcement, EMS and fire responded to the theater, unexpected issues surfaced that every first response agency can learn from.

As part of this year’s Calibre Press-sponsored Patrol Tactics Conference, Aurora PD Commander Jad Lanigan and former Aurora SWAT Commander Mike Dailey—both key players in leading the response to this incident—shared the insider insights they’re now cleared to discuss. Their experiences and advice can help you and your partner first-response agencies be better prepared to navigate a crisis like this.

Here are a few areas of consideration they focused on:

Sound. Throughout the incident, the Batman movie kept running which added to the chaos. The high volume of the theatre sound system on top of the sounds of gunfire, fire alarms going off and terrified people screaming compounded the cacophony and contributed to overall confusion and sensory overload for both victims and first responders. On one of the 911 tapes, a terrified theatergoer yells through the phone, “You need to stop the movie!!!”

As would be expected, when the gunfire erupted, theater workers fled leaving no one to power down the sound/projection system.

When you’re planning for active shooter event response, consider what large venues might be targeted and what issues like this might surface. If there are theaters in your community, would you know how to access the control rooms? Do you know where the stereo controls are in your local nightclubs? How about the lighting controls? Think about the lighting nightmare officers and escaping theatergoers needed to navigate in that dark theater with a movie flashing.

Consider every possible factor that could make your job more difficult and intensify victims’ panic and determine ahead of time how you might control them. Take the time to check out locations like this and have a plan for quickly controlling the atmosphere as best you can in a crisis.

Gas. During his attack, Holmes deployed OC canisters in the theater which required officers to don gas masks which further reduced their visibility in the smokey, low-light situation. During their presentation, Jad and Mike noted that OC and smoke are becoming increasingly common tools to use against police.

During active threat training (as well as protest management etc.) be sure you’re training for reality. Use theatrical smoke and force officers to navigate chaotic situations while wearing gas masks. Being prepared to deal with the sensory oddities that come with wearing a mask can make a critical difference to the safety and success of your response.

And speaking of gas masks…where is yours? When’s the last time you practiced with it? It needs to be in your car, and you need to be ready to use it. “Gas can happen at any time,” Jad cautioned. Be prepared.

Command decisions. At the time of the incident, Mike was Aurora PD’s SWAT Commander. Prior to his arrival at the scene, Jad controlled incident command but Aurora’s departmental policy dictated that when the SWAT Commander arrives on scene, incident command is immediately transferred to that individual.

In this instance, Mike made a decision to have Jad remain in his command role in the interest of preserving leadership consistency and avoiding even the slightest tweak to the responding officers’ focus. “Jad was doing an excellent job and I didn’t want to distract our guys by suddenly adding a new voice to the mix,” said Mike. “There was no need. I’ve always felt it’s a bad idea to change horses in mid-stream if you don’t need to.”

Dispatchers. A couple of valuable lessons were learned regarding dispatchers’ roles in active threat response. The first dealt with threat recognition.

During their presentation, Jad and Mike played audio of one of the first 911 calls to hit the dispatch center. As the exasperated caller tries to explain what is happening you can clearly hear gunfire in the background.

32 rounds were fired during that call, which would be an immediate tip-off that a mass shooting was in progress…to those who recognize the sound of gunfire. Problem is, over the phone that dispatcher didn’t recognize those sounds as rounds being fired and the caller couldn’t be heard clearly enough to understand what she was calling to report.

Jad and Mike suggested that in an effort to ensure that your dispatchers can recognize the sound of gunfire over the phone, go to the range, call them and fire rounds in the background so they can hear what that sounds like. Do not assume everyone knows what gunfire sounds like, particularly over the phone.

The second lesson had to do with unintentionally asking leading questions. In another clip of 911 audio, a caller tells the dispatcher someone is shooting in the theater. That dispatcher can then be heard asking, “Where are they? Where did they go?” The caller then responds something to the effect of, “They’re at the exit door!”

By saying “they” the dispatcher unwittingly caused the caller to parrot her reference to multiple attackers. There was only one, but responding officers were now going to hear “they” and assume there were multiple attackers. Although you should always assume there are more than one attacker until it’s proven otherwise, ideally every piece of information that is relayed by dispatch is as accurate as possible. If the caller had been asked, “How many people are shooting?” or asked, “Tell me exactly what’s happening,” the inaccurate reference to multiple shooters may have been avoided.

Train realistically in every way. The officers who responded to this shooting were immediately blasted with an extraordinary amount of stress and forced to navigate hordes of panicked people—many who were in pain—while trying to locate the suspect. Jad and Mike shared that these officers had to cast aside terrified people who literally grabbed on to them and desperately pleaded for protection…including children (think back to the Sandy Hook grade school tragedy.) They had to step over bodies. They had to overlook the injured while trying to locate and engage the threat. The emotional stress of this on officers was incredible but unavoidable.

In an effort to be best prepared to deal with this kind of experience, Jad and Mike recommend adding elements to your training like people grabbing on to your responding officers and pleading for their lives, injured people screaming in pain and begging for you to help them, child victims, etc.

Imagine the most emotionally challenging scenarios you can conjure up and train for them.

Know what it looks like—and what to do—when an officer is mentally overloading. It goes without saying the stress of this attack pushed officers to their mental and emotional limits. At one point, Jad recalled looking over at an officer who was what he called “a rock star” and noticing the officer’s eyes and face looked different. “That officer was checking out,” he said. The officer was sliding into emotional overload.

Be prepared to recognize what that looks like and have a plan for how you’re going to handle it. How are you going to ensure that the officer is safe and, if at all possible, helped back from the brink so they can continue to meet their professional responsibilities?

Another heartbreaking recollection Jad shared involved an officer who came upon the lifeless body of 6-year-old Veronica Mosher-Sullivan, the youngest of Holmes’ victims. Given the circumstances of the still uncontrolled situation, officers were forced to stay focused on locating the threat while delaying their ability to help the injured and tend to the dead.

This officer, however, simply couldn’t step over the body of this child. He picked her up and completely broke down. “He was completely gone,” Jad said. “Sobbing uncontrollably.”

Although deeply empathetic with this officer, Jad knew he needed to get that officer dialed back in, as painful as that would be. Jad’s response was to firmly order the officer to deliver this young girl to nearby EMS personnel and return to the scene.

“I can’t,” he sobbed. “I just don’t know what to do.” Devastating.

However, that officer was needed, so Jad increased the level of intensity of his demand that the officer relinquish Veronica to EMS and return to the mission of ending the threat and securing this scene. This time it worked. The officer mentally returned to duty.

When you’re discussing and planning for active threat response be sure to advise your officers that in the most severe cases, emotional breakdowns may happen. Cops are human. We all know that. The key is to quickly recognize when an officer is reaching, or has reached, his or her limit and be prepared to handle that.

Communication, communication, communication. James Holmes was in custody less than 10 minutes after the shooting started but dispatch and most officers didn’t know that. Not surprisingly, radio traffic was extremely heavy and that crucial transmission from the arresting officers was buried in the noise. When you’re training for active threat response, have a plan for making sure all critical announcements are heard.

Along those lines, both Jad and Mike strongly recommend wearing form-fitting radio earpieces that facilitate your ability to hear transmissions in high-volume situations. Relying on your ability to hear a radio strapped to your lapel is not a wise idea in their experienced opinion.

Working well with the others. Interoperability between fire, EMS and police proved to be lacking in this incident, Jad and Mike explained. Several serious issues surfaced that proved extremely challenging at the scene and caused considerable contention during post-event debriefing.

Among them were extended staging distances from the scene for fire and EMS, hesitation to share equipment, clashes and decision-making delays between the different departmental command structures and an inability/unwillingness for non-command level personnel to make spontaneous, discretionary decisions that impacted the handling of the injured.

Be sure your police, fire and EMS agencies are meeting regularly to discuss exactly how things will be handled in a crisis situation like this.

Consider things like:

Staging: How close to the scene are fire and EMS willing to come if police tell them it is safe and necessary for them to move in? Will they be so far away, transporting the injured to them will prove unnecessarily difficult?

Equipment: One problem in Aurora involved an officer who approached EMS and asked for a backboard so he could deal with one of the injured. EMS initially refused citing their need to always have their equipment in their possession and fully accounted for.

Command structure and decision-making: Jad and Mike explained that police officers are used to making immediate, independent decisions based on the circumstances of a rapidly changing, high-stress, high-demand situation like this. In this instance, decisions made by fire personnel were always dictated by the Battalion Chief who, given the magnitude of this incident, was quickly inundated with decisions that needed to be made extremely quickly.

Locate alternative entry/exit points before you need them. The parking lot at the theatre in Aurora was extremely chaotic and getting response vehicles through the front entrance was virtually impossible. Thankfully, officers were aware of alternative routes to get into the area surrounding the building quickly.

As part of your active threat response plan, make locating and utilizing alternative access/egress points at potential at-risk venues a priority. Also, be sure to share that information with other responding agencies – including fire & EMS. During the Aurora incident, that proved to be a problem.

Remember to have a way of indicating that a room has been cleared. Every one of the 16 theaters at the Aurora scene had to be cleared and officers quickly began that process. However, it became apparent that the clearing process became duplicative because there were no obvious indications that a theater had been cleared after the process had been completed.

As a result, officers cleared theaters multiple times because they didn’t know they had been cleared previously. To avoid this, consider ways to indicate a space has been cleared, like positioning a chair at the door or running tape across the entry.

Have a plan for reunification logistics. In Aurora, there were more than 1,000 people who needed to be temporarily held for interviews and their cars needed to stay in the parking lot. Aurora PD called in buses to transport them to a nearby school after which they could be reunified with their families.

That’s a lot of people coming to one location. Plan for that. Where are people heading to reconnect with their loved ones going to park? How are the lines of people going to flow? Be sure you have a plan for where and how mass reunification might work.

As with every tragic incident, looking for lessons that can help fellow officers and other first responders be better prepared and more effective is critical. The aftermath of the Aurora mass shooting was devastating for the families of those who were killed, the community of Aurora and many officers who, not long after the experience, found themselves dealing with considerable post-event trauma.

Thanks to the efforts of Jad and Mike who have completely dedicated themselves to sharing these lessons across the country, their suffering is not in vain. For that, we’re all deeply grateful.

Have additional tips to share or an experience that other officers can learn from? E-mail us at:

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About the Author

Scott Buhrmaster

Scott Buhrmaster is the CEO of Calibre Press, one of the leading law enforcement training and information providers in the industry. Scott’s tenure began in 1989 when he originally signed on with Calibre where he was involved in the creation and marketing of the organization’s popular training courses and award-winning textbooks, videos and online publications. At core, he was involved with the overall enhancement and expansion of the organization and he proudly continues that work today.

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Your tax-deductible contribution will go a long way to ensure the office of Sheriff in Missouri remains a strong, independent office answerable to those citizens that it is sworn to serve and protect.

Five Reminders for Dealing with Wheelchairs

There are several important points to remember when dealing with someone in a wheelchair.


By Calibre Press

Handling subjects in wheelchairs can be a sensitive and rarely discussed subject in law enforcement.  Yet encounters with people in wheelchairs can pose officer safety risks for officers. It’s important to remember that although most people in wheelchairs are generally regular people dealing with a challenging situation, that’s definitely not the case with all of them.

Recent statistics indicate there are roughly 3 million people in wheelchairs in the U.S., a number that will likely continue to grow. Just by sheer numbers, it’s increasingly likely you will have line-of-duty contact with a person in a wheelchair.

With that, keep these points in mind when dealing with a person in a wheelchair:

1. Not all people in wheelchairs are permanently bound to one. In some instances, the wheelchair is just used to assist them in getting around but is not absolutely necessary for them to move. Don’t assume that if you turn your back on a subject sitting in a wheelchair, they’ll be in the same position when you turn back around. A wheelchair is a piece of medical equipment, not a restraining device. The subject may be fully capable of getting out of the chair and moving to a position of advantage over you.

Also, remember that some individuals may use wheelchairs as a deceptive means of eliciting sympathy and donations. They may be fully capable of functioning without it. Don’t immediately assume the person in the wheelchair needs to be there.

In legitimate situations, wheelchairs are customized to fit the individual. By performing a quick visual scan to see if the chair is too big or too small for the individual, you may be able to recognize those who are staging their need for the chair.

2. Wheelchairs can be effective for hiding weapons. Knives and guns can be taped to the underside of the seat. Razor blades can be taped to the spokes of the wheels. Weapons can be hidden in pouches attached to the chairs or in purses, backpacks or other bags carried on the lap of the person. When searching, be sure to thoroughly check the individual AND the chair.

Also, be sure to watch the subject’s hands during your encounter. Be alert to any movements toward the bottom of the seat or the armrests, a carrying pouch or under the subject. Be sure to check under any lap blankets.

3. Even wheelchairs themselves can be used as effective weapons. They can pivot and accelerate very quickly, particularly if they’re motorized. Metal footrests can be sharpened to an edge which can cause serious injury to an officer if slammed into the shins. If a criminally minded person in a wheelchair knocks you to the ground, they may have the opportunity to jump on top of you. Keep in mind that many wheelchair subjects have incredible upper body strength. They can be just as capable, if not more capable in some instances, of seriously injuring or even killing you in a ground fight as someone who is fully mobile.

4. Lookout potential. On crime-in-progress calls, don’t overlook seemingly handicapped individuals. They are very capable of acting as lookouts…and may even be the suspect you’re looking for.

5. Consider a traffic stop-like approach. When approaching a wheelchair, use the same approach as you would on a traffic stop. Approach from behind and remain alert to suspicious hand movements or attempts to retrieve or hide something. As in the initial stages of a traffic stop field interview, consider remaining in a position of advantage behind the chair. If two officers are present, one should remain behind the chair acting as a cover officer watching the movements of the subject while the contact officer conducts business with him.

For more information, watch Calibre’s video Gun Grab from a Wheelchair! Life-or-Death Struggle Spotlights Crucial Survival Reminders

Have more thoughts on this incident to share? Additional tips? E-mail us at:


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Cannabis Training for Law Enforcement and Green Lab

With legalization, law enforcement officers will contact more drivers who have used a cannabis product.  By using live, legal cannabis consumers, this course trains officers to better understand and recognize cannabis impairment.

Cannabis Training for Law Enforcement and Green Lab is set for 8:15 am December 13 in St. Peters, Missouri.

Enrollment is now open!

This course is $325 per student and is limited to 20 students.

Missouri officers receive 2 technical, and 4 skill development POST hours.

Attendees will be in seat for the first two hours of this training reviewing the following topics:

Toxicology, chemical tests, and issues with legislating a number for THC in blood.
Marijuana Impairment Indicators (302 Study)
A brief review of Field Sobriety Tests (FSTs)

During lunch, students will be released to tour local legal medical marijuana facilities.

This is a unique opportunity for students to engage cannabis facility personnel and ask questions.  

While students tour these facilities, instructors will be monitoring the legal consumption of cannabis by Missouri Medical Marijuana Qualified Patient Volunteers.  Methods of consumption and product type will be documented and reviewed with the students at the completion of the course.
(All Department of Health and Senior Services Rules and Regulations are strictly adhered to)  

During lunch, students will be released to tour local legal medical marijuana facilities.

This is a unique opportunity for students to engage cannabis facility personnel and ask questions.  

While students tour these facilities, instructors will be monitoring the legal consumption of cannabis by Missouri Medical Marijuana Qualified Patient Volunteers.  Methods of consumption and product type will be documented and reviewed with the students at the completion of the course.

(All Department of Health and Senior Services Rules and Regulations are strictly adhered to)  

Once the consumers are transported to the classroom, students will be broken into groups.  Each volunteer will be assigned an instructor.  Students are able to interact with the volunteer consumers and will administer sobriety tests.  Each time a student administers tests, the results will be recorded and reviewed at the end of the course.

All observations during these tests are documented, kept on record, and used in future training.  (Hence the importance of administering tests correctly).  After the first session (1 hour), the volunteers will be transported back to the consumption location for a second dose.  Students will discuss the first lab session with instructors.

Students will again administer tests on the volunteers, after the second consumption.  All tests and results will once again be documented and reviewed at the end of the course.

Once the second lab is complete, there is a review of how much cannabis each volunteer consumed, how they consumed it, observations of the officers, and if the volunteer was believed to be impaired.  

This is a unique opportunity for Law Enforcement and Cannabis Industry Personnel to interact.  We encourage positive discussions from both.

Missouri Law Enforcement Officers will receive 6 POST hours, 2 technical, and 4 skill development, on completion of this training.


Join the Missouri Sheriffs’ Association and proudly display your support for your local law enforcement and Missouri sheriffs.
Your tax-deductible contribution will go a long way to ensure the office of Sheriff in Missouri remains a strong, independent office answerable to those citizens that it is sworn to serve and protect.

‘Do something. Do the right thing.’ An Evaluation of the Impact of Active Bystandership Training

Story from the National Police Foundation, Advancing Policing Through Innovation and Science


In this article, we present part of an ongoing evaluation of Active Bystandership (AB) training that has been conducted in the Baltimore Police Department (BPD) through the recently-launched Ethical Policing is Courageous (EPIC) program – an agency-level initiative designed to facilitate and empower officers to effectively intervene during potentially harmful situations.

To evaluate the impact of EPIC training within the BPD, and to inform potential future AB training in other police departments, we conducted an officer survey immediately post-training, which resulted in 1,753 responses. Overall, EPIC training was perceived positively by respondents. Respondents generally found the training to be useful and indicated that it would promote and facilitate ethical conduct. Respondents indicated somewhat less confidence in intervening with their supervisors compared to peers. Written comments indicated that officers wanted more AB training and more scenario-based training.


A bystander is defined as a witness who is in a position to know what is happening and can take positive action; an active bystander is someone that recognizes when action is needed, decides to act, and consequently intervenes. It is believed that active bystandership can be a facilitated or encouraged behavior. In law enforcement, AB training is designed to enhance peer intervention and (1) prevent misconduct, (2) avoid mistakes and (3) promote officer health and wellness.

The first known implementation of AB training by a law enforcement agency was in the New Orleans Police Department (NOPD), who initially created the EPIC program in partnership with researchers and community partners. The training was developed to teach officers peer intervention skills, promote an organizational culture of transparency by engaging the leadership staff and normalize AB by establishing protections for officers who intervene.

Most recently, building upon EPIC, the Innovative Policing Program at Georgetown University Law Center developed the Active Bystandership in Law Enforcement (ABLE) Project to provide police agencies with practical, scenario-based training in the principles of AB and strategies for effective peer intervention. The stated goals of ABLE training include:

  • Reducing unnecessary harm to civilians
  • Reducing unnecessary harm to officers
  • Reducing the risk of officers losing their jobs
  • Reducing the risk of lawsuits against the department, the city, and officers
  • Improving police/community relations
  • Improving officer health and wellness
  • Improving officer job satisfaction
  • Improving citizen satisfaction with their law enforcement agency.


A survey was designed to assess the following dimensions: perceptions about the training, application of the training to the job, willingness to address ethical challenges, confidence in the ability to intervene in a variety of situations, and an open-ended section to capture general comments about the use and quality of the training.

The survey was disseminated to the officers after completing EPIC training. A total of 2,029 participants completed EPIC training; 1,996 surveys were submitted (98.4% of the total trainees); 1,753 submissions (87.8% of survey responses; 86.4% of all training participants) provided useable data.


Was the training likely to promote active bystandership and ethical behavior?

  • More than 80% of the respondents indicated that they thought the training was likely to promote ethical conduct (81%).
  • A large majority of respondents indicated a greater likelihood of intervening after completing the training (82%) and having confidence in their ability to intervene with peers (86%) and supervisors (79%).
  • Most respondents were confident that fellow officers would support them in intervening (76%), but the percentage of respondents indicating they would receive support from a supervising officer was slightly lower (70%).
  • As a result of training, most officers were thinking about the benefits of intervention to prevent misconduct (82%) and promote the health and safety of their coworkers (84%).

When would officers intervene?

Officers indicated a willingness to intervene across a wide variety of scenarios, including confronting fellow officers who had violated departmental policy, appeared to be making an unjustifiable search, or were demonstrating unusual behavior or moods. They were also likely to refer coworkers to behavioral health services. Agreement with these questions ranged from 73% to 84%. Officers were slightly less likely to report willingness to intervene with supervisors, but the difference was small (usually less than 10%).

How willing are officers to confront moral challenges?

Officers indicated a strong willingness to face moral or ethical challenges. Most respondents (70%) were willing to take on ethical challenges even if they might incur negative consequences, hold their ground on moral matters (85%), and think they acted morally even in conflicts with supervisors (80%). Two-thirds of respondents indicated that they were never or seldom swayed from acting morally by fear or other negative emotions (69%). Forty-two percent of respondents indicated that they would bring moral issues forward even if it put themselves or others in jeopardy.

How confident are officers in intervening?

Officers indicated considerable confidence in their ability to intervene in a wide variety of situations. They were most confident in responding to co-workers using excessive force (86%) and in peer-to-peer verbal altercations. There was slightly less confidence reported in responding to supervisors that show up for work hungover (66.7%).


Officers generally perceived the training as useful and likely to promote ethical conduct. They consistently indicated that they felt more confident and willing to intervene because of the training. Respondents also indicated that they recognize the benefits of AB for the health and safety of their coworkers.

Officers indicated that there were more concerns with intervening with supervisors compared to peers. The strongly hierarchical nature of law enforcement agencies makes it understandable that people may find it challenging to intervene up the chain of command. It may be necessary to better emphasize, in-class and reinforced through future communications, the application of peer intervention in a way that is agnostic to rank. It is also likely that an organizational perception of willingness, and appropriateness, of intervening with supervisors may take considerable time to develop. A longer-term follow-up on this issue is warranted.

Open-ended respondents suggested that many participants were interested in more training on AB and more scenario-based training specifically. Future iterations of the training should ensure that participants have sufficient time to practice intervention skills in a controlled setting. AB training should also be integrated with other training that is part of routine academy or in-service training. For example, use of force, de-escalation and procedural justice training are opportunities to reinforce key concepts associated with AB.

Police performance: Developing a culture of accountability

Police performance: Developing a culture of accountability

Download Police1’s latest digital edition to learn how agencies can weave the duty to intercede throughout their policies and training


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Your tax-deductible contribution will go a long way to ensure the office of Sheriff in Missouri remains a strong, independent office answerable to those citizens that it is sworn to serve and protect.

DOJ’s Proposed 2022 Budget for Grant Funding Reveals Focus On Police Reform

Body cameras, anti-bias training and restrictions on police use of force are all items for proposed funding in DOJ’s FY22 budget


Story By Sarah Wilson for Lexipol |


The House of Representatives Committee on Appropriations approved their funding bill in July for Commerce, Justice, Science, and Related Agencies for the fiscal year ending Sept. 30, 2022. We spent some time going through the 168-page report to identify emerging trends for federal law enforcement grants in 2022.

Below are some highlights. Note: At the time of publication, the FY22 budget has not been approved by the Senate and therefore not signed by the president. A continuing resolution has been proposed to maintain continuity of service. Expect more to develop as the FY22 budget is finalized and as grants impacting law enforcement departments are released (typically in the spring).


Perhaps the most obvious trend in FY22 proposed funding for the Justice Assistance Grant (JAG) and COPS hiring grant is a focus on police reform. Both programs require jurisdictions to certify through the U.S. Attorney General that the jurisdiction satisfies nine key requirements “aimed at improving police practices.” These practices target issues including racial profiling, excessive force (including choke holds), “no-knock” warrants, and sexual contact between officers and people in their custody.

Several of the nine requirements make reference to the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act, as passed by the House of Representatives on March 3, 2021. As bipartisan talks on this legislation have broken down in the Senate, passage of the George Floyd Act looks unlikely at time of publication. Therefore, it’s unclear whether these requirements will be part of the final appropriations bill. Regardless, all agencies should be on notice that the administration is clearly seeking ways to encourage agencies to adopt common police reform measures and consider this when preparing grant funding requests.

Additional stipulations in the funding request also point to the DOJ’s interest in police reform. The bill requires each applicant’s Byrne JAG formula funds to be spent in the following ways:

  • 10% to develop and implement best practices to eliminate racial profiling, including training to prevent racial profiling and to encourage more respectful interaction with the public, the acquisition and use of technology to facilitate the accurate collection and analysis of data, the development and acquisition of feedback systems and technologies that identify officers or units of officers engaged in, or at risk of engaging in, racial profiling or other misconduct, and the establishment and maintenance of an administrative complaint procedure or independent auditor program
  • 5% to assist law enforcement agencies in attaining or maintaining accreditation from certified law enforcement accreditation organizations
  • 5% to study and implement effective management, training, recruiting, hiring, and oversight standards and programs to promote effective community and problem-solving strategies for law enforcement agencies
  • 5% to purchase or lease body-worn cameras; fund body-worn camera programs in order to deter excessive force or improve accountability, transparency and evidence collection; or implement policies or procedures consistent with requirements as described in section 382 of H.R. 1280


JAG and COPS aren’t the only grant programs mentioned in the DOJ FY22 proposed budget, but as with the JAG and COPS funds, the focus is again on police reform and accountability measures. Highlights include:

  • $35 million for the competitive matching grant program for purchases of body-worn cameras and related expenses

  • $42 million to train law enforcement officers on racial profiling, implicit bias, de-escalation, use of force and the related duty to intervene, and procedural justice
  • $100 million to assist states in conducting “pattern and practice” investigations of law enforcement
  • $7.2 million to support state and local law enforcement in complying with reform efforts as a result of litigation including, but not limited to, consent decrees, out of court agreements, memoranda of understanding, findings, technical assistance, and recommendation letters from reform authorities
  • $250 million to assist in implementing statutes providing for independent investigation of law enforcement officers
  • $5 million for the National Task Force on Law Enforcement Oversight, which is designed to coordinate the detection and referral of complaints regarding incidents of alleged law enforcement misconduct nationwide, in consultation with professional law enforcement associations, labor organizations, and community-based organizations
  • $5 million for continued development and implementation of a first-of-its-kind National Police Misconduct Registry, designed to serve as a central repository of data with respect to all federal, state, and local law enforcement officers, to be compiled and maintained by the DOJ


The DOJ FY22 proposed budget isn’t only focused on police reform measures. For programs funded under the Violence Against Women Act, the bill provides $753 million an increase of 48% above fiscal year 2021. This includes new grant programs specifically for communities that are underrepresented and underserved, including the deaf and transgender communities.

For school safety, the bill provides $140 million, an increase of $15 million, to fund the STOP School Violence Act of 2018. In addition, the bill increases funding for other activities that will address school violence, including strong funding increases for youth mentoring grants and grants for juvenile justice and delinquency prevention. The bill also funds a new program aimed at providing alternatives to incarceration for parents as well as juveniles.

The bill also proposes funding two grant programs aimed at developing new strategies to enhance police/community trust and reduce crime through community approaches. The Public Safety Innovation Grants program would receive $5 million for the development of best practices for, and the creation of, local task forces on public safety innovation. These task forces would be created from partnerships between community-based organizations and other local stakeholders to explore and develop innovative strategies to enhance just and equitable public safety, repair breaches of trust between law enforcement agencies and communities, and enhance officer accountability. And nearly $103 million is allocated for Byrne Discretionary Community Project Grants to prevent crime, improve the criminal justice system and provide victims’ services.


The committee recommended further investigation and research into several emerging issues, including:

  • Access to mental health services for law enforcement

  • Technology-facilitated harassment
  • White supremacist infiltration in law enforcement

The next step in budget approval is the Senate’s appropriation bill approval. Stay tuned!



Join the Missouri Sheriffs’ Association and proudly display your support for your local law enforcement and Missouri sheriffs.
Your tax-deductible contribution will go a long way to ensure the office of Sheriff in Missouri remains a strong, independent office answerable to those citizens that it is sworn to serve and protect.

How Evidence-Based Training Developed and Evolved

The goal of evidence-based training is to research and then implement the best practices to create and sustain a functional officer. (image/VirTra)


EDITOR’S NOTE: This article is reprinted from “Why Law Enforcement Needs to take a Science-Based Approach to Training and Education,” a digital report from IADLEST and its Partner Advisory Committee (IPAC). Click here to download the complete report


“Of all the ideas in policing, one stands out as the most powerful force for change: police practices should be based on scientific evidence about what works best.” ‒ Lawrence W. Sherman

Twenty-two years ago, Professor Lawrence Sherman gave birth to the idea of evidence-based policing. Sherman believed that just researching policing practices was not enough and that proactive efforts were needed to put the research findings into practice through national and community guidelines.

His 1998 paper, Ideas in American Policing: EvidenceBased Policing, became the core of evidence-based policing and presents a framework of thinking that is paralleled in what we call evidence-based training.


Evidence-based training involves implementing research and best practices to create sustainable and functional training that enables officers to meet the needs of their job tasks and, more importantly, the needs of the communities they serve.

When looking back nostalgically at old firearms training photos, we can immediately see how firearms training has evolved over the last 50 years. This is partially due to the influence of competitive shooters who innovated to obtain better performance. That innovation came from testing to see what was truly faster or more accurate. In the words of Wyatt Earp, “fast is fine, but accuracy is final.” Competitive shooters designed experiments, conducted research and made changes from findings. The “square range” allowed them to collect evidence that was needed to really evaluate human performance and how to enhance it. However, many realize that the “square range,” like many sterile labs, does not always mirror the real world.

The invention of force-on-force technology allowed for an evolutionary step in experimentation and more realistic testing environments. Force-on-force technology allowed the use of role players to interact, requiring more from the participants than just shooting paper or steel. Another evolution was the development of high-fidelity simulation, of which some systems support wearable measurement devices. This allows for the measurement of not only external performance but also the internal process of cognition and physiology that takes data collection much further than seen in the past.

These changes allow for an experimental design that can collect the evidence needed to make the best choices of tactics and training methodologies based on the science of human performance and ability.


When it comes to training, law enforcement struggles with the push-pull of operational and budgetary requirements. The demands of answering common calls for service and specialized investigations drains a large chunk of resources that generally pushes training into a second-place position.

Training of officers can take them from their primary assignments decreasing the resources available to accomplish department missions. This push and pull includes substantial time commitments from officers and financial investment in equipment and other training resources such as continued education for trainers, logistics (ranges, shoot houses), trainer prep time, etc. Purchasing updated training equipment may be sacrificed because of a need for better operational gear. Agencies must often meet federal and state training mandates. These mandates are one of the pulls that take officers away from operational tasks, but they can also pull away from other desired or required training. This has led more than one organization to significantly restrict training and others to conduct what is known as “check-the-box” training, where the training is of low or questionable value but could be checked off on a list of requirements if the department is audited or called into court.

Adding to the complexity of the situation is a concept captured in the old saying, “The only two things people don’t like are change and the way things are.” This speaks to the resistance found in any culture/ system to change; and training programs are often not immune to this. “This is the way we have always done it” is a phrase that often echoes in mat rooms, ranges and training centers. Change is hard, but in the struggle is where we grow, the challenge is where we bring out the best of us.

Unfortunately, culture makes changes to training paradigms difficult. Culture is more than a policy; a policy can change with the stroke of a pen, but culture may never change without the right influence and champions. Also, many state curriculums are governed by an administrative or political process that can make adjustments or change very challenging and labor-intensive.


With all of the challenges mentioned above, here are some key considerations for a successful transition.

First, when an agency makes the decision to embrace evidence-based training, it should be done correctly the first time otherwise you can undermine future attempts and waste valuable training resources. Early failures could fuel the negative attitudes of detractors creating a mindset of, “See, they don’t know what they are doing.”

Often, a leader is selected to spearhead these kinds of changes. Develop the right champions to push the cause. This leader must be well-trained and able to explain the “why” at the most basic levels.

The leader is only part of the equation. All trainers must be willing to adapt and change. Many times, training programs can be influenced by one of the 3 Ps: personality, preference and performance.¹ Trainers who have been in place for a long time may prefer to maintain the current process. Instructors unwilling to push for change can undermine efforts.

The goal of evidence-based training is to research and then implement the best practices to create and sustain a functional officer. This is done with a critical analysis of training methods and selecting the most efficient for creating needed and lasting change.


1. Bartel L. The Three Ps: What Drives your Training Program? The Firearms Instructor, 2012.


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Sign Up Now for ‘High in Plain Sight’ Training



Tall Cop Says Stop™ was created by Officer Jermaine Galloway, an Idaho law enforcement officer since 1997. Regarded as one of America’s top experts in various drug and alcohol trends, he has specialized in underage drinking and drug enforcement for more than 15 years.

Since 2009, Officer Galloway has won four national awards and one international award for his work. In addition to his numerous talks at conferences and other events, he has personally trained more than 105,000 people nationwide.

Officer Galloway’s many years of experience have taught him one thing above all else. In his words, “You can’t stop what you don’t know™.”

Perry County will be hosting the training in October.

The training is for law enforcement, probation officers, school administration, treatment providers, and counselors. This session is unique, in that it provides over 120 visual aids for attendees to hold and become familiar with. In today’s culture, everything is person-specific and has different meanings to different individuals. For each person to help prevent youth and adult substance abuse, you MUST know what is going on in your community. These new trends are very popular and it is important for all who are involved in prevention, education, treatment, or enforcement to understand these sweeping changes in the drug culture.


This training covers alcohol and drug clothing, alcoholic energy drinks, alcopops, alcohol and drug concealment methods and containers, drug paraphernalia, drug related music and groups, logos, stickers, new technology, youth party tendencies, party games, non-traditional alcoholic beverages, social networking sites, synthetic drugs, OTC drugs, inhalants, concentrates, E-cigarettes, and popular party drugs.


Instructor/Trainer: Officer Jermaine Galloway “Tall Cop Says Stop”

Class Cost: $25.00 per person

Registration Required – Class Limited to 150 Attendees

Class Date / Times

9:00 am- 3:00 pm

Tuesday, October 12, 2021 

Location: Robinson Event Center Address: 2411 Walters Lane, Perryville, MO 63775

For more information on the program, visit

For more information, contact Deputy Auston Turner at

Applying Science to the Art of Detection Canines: Surface Area and Concealment of Targets

By Battelle Staff Members: K. Good, N. Knebel, S. Lawhon, L. Siers, D. Winkel for Working Dog Magazine

When establishing training scenarios, it is common to vary the amount (i.e., mass) of target used. One session may involve several ounces of the target material, while the next session involves several pounds. Although this is good practice, it has resulted in narrowed thinking: Many canine trainers and handlers think solely about target mass when attempting to vary odor intensity. In reality, surface area and concealment of the target are much more important factors.

During olfaction, canines are detecting the gaseous molecules and/or microscopic particles that are released from the surface of the target. If environmental factors (e.g., room temperature) are held constant, the larger the surface area of a given substance, the greater the number of molecules/particles being released. Consider, for example, a drinking glass filled with water. Evaporation occurs only from the surface of water exposed to air. When sitting on your kitchen counter, that glass of water will take weeks to evaporate. If that same glass is spilled onto your kitchen floor, however, the surface area of the resulting puddle is many times that of the water in the glass. As a result, that same amount of water evaporates overnight. In the context of explosives detection work, one pound of black powder in an open bottle has significantly less odor than that same mass of powder distributed across several scent bags.

Furthermore, for detection to occur, those molecules or particles released from the surface of the target need to be physically transported to an area the dog will sniff. The distance and degree of obstruction of the path to the dog’s nose will have a marked impact on odor intensity. As these factors increase (e.g., deeper hides and/or forms of additional containment), odor intensity is reduced. This reduction occurs because the molecules/particles are diluted by the (larger) encompassing volume of air, and some are even “lost” due to chemical or physical interactions with surrounding surfaces.

Understanding the role of surface area and concealment is valuable, as it allows handlers and trainers to better manipulate standard targets and common training exercises to expose their canines to a greater range of target odor intensities, ultimately better preparing the team for the infinite number of scenarios they may encounter operationally.

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New Study: Grip Strength and Shooting Performance

Researchers recommend agencies examine the adoption of pistols with lower trigger pull weights to mitigate grip strength-related shooting issues. Missouri Department of Conservation Photo.


By Lewis “Von” Kliem, MCJ, JD, LLM Originally published on the Force Science Institute websiteRepublished in Police1 with permission.

A new study led by Ph.D. student Andrew Brown [1] examined the effects of grip strength and gender on shooting performance. [2]

Brown and fellow researchers sought to verify independent studies showing that grip strength was directly related to a person’s ability to manage aim, recoil and trigger pull. These skills are widely recognized as some of the key components of superior shooting performance.

This latest study was designed to replicate previous research relative to grip strength and to identify what range of strength might be required to achieve shooting test standards. The resulting data was used to examine the relationship between grip strength, gender and shooting scores.


According to the researchers, a standard-issue 9 mm pistol might have between 4lbs-6lbs of trigger pull weight. A double-action-only pistol might be closer to 9lbs-12lbs. Still, trigger pull weight can depend on the type of gun, the hammer mechanism (e.g., single-action vs. double action), and whether mechanical adjustments have been made. As a rule of thumb, the amount of pressure required to pull a trigger and fire a round (“trigger pull weight”) is roughly equivalent to a firm handshake.

Researchers explained the influence of trigger pull weight: “Trigger pull weight appears to impact shooting performance as triggers that are too heavy [for the individual shooter] seem to activate additional muscles in the hand.” They continued: “If the trigger pull of a firearm exceeds the force of a handshake, isolation of the index finger becomes difficult, causing the hand to engage in the use of additional muscles to complete the task of pulling the trigger. The overcompensation of unnecessary muscles, in turn, negatively affects shooting performance through involuntary hand movements.”

The questions remained, how much strength is needed to avoid these grip-related issues and pass a standard police pistol course, and will an officer’s gender predict negative shooting performance related to grip strength?


Researchers had 118 active police officers, ranging in age from 22-62, conduct a standardized police pistol qualification using a double-action-only pistol with a trigger pull weight of between 8lbs-12lbs.

Before attempting to qualify, the participants completed a demographic questionnaire to document their age, rank, gender and years of police service. Researchers then measured and recorded the participants’ dominant hand maximum grip strength.

After their grip strength was measured, participants performed the police pistol qualification with stationary targets between 10 and 82 feet. The results of the tests were analyzed and compared to the grip strength measurements and officer demographics.


Male officers in this study had, on average, higher qualification scores than the female officers: 21.9 % of the female officers in this study failed the qualification compared to 8.1% of the male officers. Researchers theorized that insufficient grip strength would negatively impact shooting performance, and that female officers would, on average, have lower grip strength than male officers. Both theories were supported by the research results.

First, researchers determined that grip strength in the range of 80lbs and 125lbs was needed to score approximately 85% and 90% on the pistol qualification test. The average grip strength for the female officers in the study was 77.5lbs, while the average for the men was 121.5lbs.

Seventy-eight percent of the females and 92% of the males passed the qualification test (22% and 8% failed respectively). Researchers observed that, for every pound below the average grip strength required to score between 85% and 90%, the odds of an officer failing the pistol qualification increased by 2%.


Shooting performance is influenced by a variety of factors, and it appears that grip strength is certainly one of them. Andrew Brown provided the following observations: “In our study, higher rates of failure appeared to be correlated with lower grip strength. Agencies should consider minimum grip requirements based on the issued duty pistol trigger weight. Although grip strength issues might disproportionately impact female officers, strength training may help to mitigate grip-related deficiencies regardless of the officer’s gender.”

A recent article reported that NYPD is moving toward lighter trigger pull weights for their recruits. This move is consistent with Brown’s recommendation that agencies “examine the adoption of pistols with lower trigger pull weights to mitigate grip strength-related shooting issues.”

Dr. Bill Lewinski, executive director of the Force Science Institute, supports Brown’s recommendations and was encouraged by the NYPD’s move to a lighter trigger pull weight: “We often hear that higher trigger pull weights can provide increased decision-making time for officers. The research does not support that position. Even the heavier triggers can have a travel time as quick as 6/100 to 8/100 of a second. If the decision to pull the trigger has already been made, the travel time of the trigger isn’t going to result in sufficient time to change your mind and stop that action.”


Dr. Lewinski addressed another concern that often accompanies lower trigger pull weights: “Agencies are always looking for ways to reduce the number of unintentional discharges, and trigger pull weights should always be a part of that discussion.”

Lewinski cautioned, “Researchers have observed officers unintentionally and non-consciously touch the trigger of their firearm while they were engaged in vigorous physical movements during a simulated high-threat robbery scenario. About 6% of those officers unintentionally applied sufficient pressure to pull a 12 lbs. trigger weight. More importantly, nearly 20% unintentionally applied enough pressure to fire a gun with a 5 lbs. trigger pull weight.” [3]

Dr. Lewinski reiterated what remains the most important consideration for avoiding unintended discharges, “In our research, we saw that around 31% of the unintended discharges involved striker-fired weapons. Of those, well over half of the unintended discharges were the result of intentionally pulling the trigger before clearing the chamber during disassembly [i.e., field stripping the weapon]. To mitigate unintentional trigger pulls and subsequent discharges, including cases that involve muscle co-activation, startle response, or routine weapon handling, keeping the finger outside of the trigger well is a critical safety protocol regardless of the trigger pull weight.”      


1. Andrew Brown is a Ph.D. student in Psychology at Carleton University, Ottawa, Ontario, Canada, He has a B.A. and M.A. in Psychology.

2. Andrew Brown was joined by fellow researchers and Ph.D. candidates Simon Baldwin and Brittany Blaskovits, as well as Dr. Craig Bennell, Ph.D. in Psychology. 

3. See Heim C, Schmidtbleicher D, Niebergall E. (2006a). The risk of involuntary firearms discharge. Human Factors, 48(3), 413-421.

About the author

With nearly 30 years in the criminal justice profession, Lewis “Von” Kliem, MCJ, JD, LLM, worked as a civilian police officer, attorney, educator and author. Von is the executive editor of Force Science News and co-owner of Von Kliem Consulting, LLC, where he trains and consults on constitutional policing, use of force analysis, crisis communications and trauma-informed interviewing.  


The Force Science Institute (FSI) is comprised of a team of physicians, lawyers, psychologists, scientists, police trainers and law enforcement subject matter experts dedicated to the advancement of knowledge and training in criminal justice matters.

FSI conducts sophisticated scientific research studies into human behavior documenting the physical and mental dynamics associated with the societal demands of the peace-keeping function, including high-pressure situations and use-of-force incidents. Its findings apply to citizen-involved uses of force, as well as impacting investigations of officer-involved force applications. FSI research when applied to training enhances officer performance and public safety.

Applying Science to the Art of Detection Canines: Blind Searches

By Battelle Staff Members K. Good, N. Knebel, S. Lawhon, L. Siers and D. Winkel for Working Dog Magazine

When training, do you slow down your search when you know a target is present? Do you present the area containing your target more thoroughly? Do you change the grip on your leash as you approach the target location? You may be answering “No,” but your canine partner may answer differently…

Handlers must realize that the elimination of subtle, unintentional cues is nearly impossible when target hide location is known. These cues are problematic because dogs, and animals in general (do an internet search for “Clever Hans” sometime), are excellent at recognizing patterns and cues, which quickly become part of their conditioned response. Since these cues will be absent during actual operational searches (where target placement is not known), it can lead to confusion, nervousness, missed targets, and an increase in false identifications.

To avoid such issues, it is essential that training exercises frequently be conducted “blind” – the condition in which the handler has no knowledge of target placement.

To incorporate blind exercises into your routine, develop a buddy training system, and take turns in the lead role. As the lead, you will be responsible for establishing an exercise that includes some combination of targets, controls, and distractors – the number and location should be unknown to your partnering colleague(s).
In some cases, the training area should be void of targets to ensure that there is no expectation of finding something. While establishing the scenario does require more effort/time for the lead person, the partnering handler(s) can simply arrive and conduct the training. Thus, the overall efficiency of training for the group as a whole is greatly improved.
The lead person should accompany each team during the search and provide assistance when necessary (e.g., prevent the “blind” handler from inadvertently removing the dog from target odor). At the end of the blind searches, the lead person is still able to use the established scenario for critical training; he will be conducting it as a “known” problem, but such situations are ideal for correcting previously identified issues or deficiencies.
Blind searches are one of the most powerful and impactful tools available to detection canine programs. Only under such conditions can trainers/handlers fully eliminate cues, understand true level of competency, and make improvements to real-world detection capability.
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