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!



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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.

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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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.

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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Applying Science to the Art of Detection Canines

Minimizing Contamination & Extraneous Odors


By Battelle Staff Members K. Good, N. Knebel,  S. Lawhorn, L Siers, D. Winkel  | Working Dog Magazine

Use of improper or lackadaisical techniques when handling items in a training exercise can have disastrous effects on your canine’s real-world performance. If your targets are tainted with a different target odor, a distinct nontarget odor (e.g., that sandwich you had for lunch), or a unique human odor, your canine can be inadvertently conditioned to respond to that contaminating odor instead of the actual target odor. As a result, they may perform superbly in your training only to miss actual threats in real searches. Fortunately, the problems associated with contamination and extraneous odors can be minimized when personnel are mindful of the issue and employ appropriate practices. The key is to always think critically about your handling, set-up, and storage protocols.

The strict use of disposable gloves, such as polyethylene food service gloves, is essential for reducing contamination. Wear clean, new gloves every time you handle a target; even one occasion of mishandling can ruin an aid. Don gloves and use them quickly. If you put on new gloves but then get distracted (e.g., answer your phone or make a note in your log book), replace those gloves before touching the target. When done handling the target, immediately discard that pair of gloves. Also, think critically about the handling of unused gloves. Store them in a suitable container; never co-locate them with targets or distracters; and do not transport them in your pocket, because they too are subject to being contaminated.

As another precaution, keep target and non-target (e.g., distracter) materials isolated from one another when establishing training exercises. Separate work areas/stations should exist for these two general categories of training articles. Furthermore, if you are going to use multiple targets in the same exercise, take measures to ensure that the designated target work area does not contribute to cross-contamination. Do not open two containers of different targets next to each other. Also, if you will use a surface in the preparation of targets, cover it with clean barrier paper before target preparation and replace the paper before preparing a new target.

Incorporating these suggestions and others that you identify on your own into your routine training will ensure your canine maintains the real-world, real-threat detection capability you require to be successful.

Avoid These 10 Range Habits That Can Get LE Officers Killed

Maintain your level of proficiency through regular practice. (Photo/Tyson Kilbey)


By Duane Wolfe for

What you do consistently will become your habit. The range is a long way from a gunfight, and all too often officers adopt range behaviors that can lead to serious injury or worse. Here are 10 quick tips to improve your abilities in a gunfight and correct a few bad behaviors I have seen in my time on the range.


In order to draw or reload faster, some officers will release one or more of their retention devices to speed up their draw. The Force Science Institute has determined that if you undo a snap it slows you down because you are programmed to follow a certain sequence. When you change that sequence your brain gets confused and works slower. Train the way you fight because you will fight the way you train. If you train with one device deactivated when the fight comes and that device is in place you will be fighting with the holster, rather than with the suspect(s).


All too often shooters are so concerned about putting one bullet on top of the other that they never push themselves to shoot fast enough for a gunfight. A score is nice as a gauge of progress to meet a qualification standard, but qualification and a gunfight are two different worlds.


Disregard the scoring rings, as many of them bear no resemblance to the human body. Work on placing the majority of your rounds in an area about four inches wide from the base of the throat down to the bottom of the sternum. The heart and all of the arteries and veins leading to and from it are concentrated in that area. That is the area you want to hit to stop a suspect quickly. More than likely your target doesn’t have the 10 ring in that area. I have seen targets with the “X” down in the stomach – bad practice, bad training, expect a bad outcome.


Most qualification times are very generous. In a gunfight, officers fire around five rounds per second. If you haven’t trained to shoot and hit at that rate of fire in practice, don’t expect a visit from the ballistic fairy to guide your rounds in a gunfight. Realistic training must include realistic rates of fire.


When your gun goes dry, reload fast every time like your life depends on it (because it does). If you ever find yourself standing with an empty gun and counting the holes in your target, kick yourself. The bad guy probably won’t be showing any bullet holes. If your gun is empty, ammo is your priority.


I’ve lost track of the number of times I have seen shooters freeze up or quit a course of fire when a gun malfunctioned or they fumbled a draw or reload. There are no alibis in a gunfight. Fix the problem and finish the fight even if things don’t go perfectly. There is no such thing as a perfect fight, so train to win regardless of the obstacles that you face. Fine motor skills can deteriorate under stress, prepare for it in your training.


If you always stay in your comfort zone, then you are not training for a fight. A gunfight will be very uncomfortable. You can’t predict the time, the date, location or opponent(s). Push yourself out of your comfort level on the speed of your presentation and your firing rate. Once you find your failure point (the majority of your rounds start going outside the high chest area), slow down, identify the problem and work on fixing it as you continue to speed up.


Practice side stepping on your draw to teach you to get off the line of attack. If you don’t have cover, side step on your reloads. Practice shooting moving sideways, forward and back. If the range you normally practice at won’t allow it, find a different range to train on.


The use of cover or concealment will increase your likelihood of surviving a gunfight. As you approach the site of a call, are you identifying your available cover and concealment? A pre-planned response will be faster than having to do an environmental survey before seeking cover when bullets start to fly. Use cover so that the least amount of you sticks out while you locate and shoot at your threat. Practice using cover at all of the levels: standing, crouching, kneeling and prone. A vertical line of cover is better than a horizontal line of cover because less of your head is exposed. In a gunfight you get what you get, make the most of it.


A range is usually a 180-degree world and, as a result, a lot of training is done using only half of the world. Threats and bullets can come from any direction once you step outside the range. Once you finished shooting, check the world around you before you put your gun away. Draw quickly, holster reluctantly. All too often a scan turns into a fast head whip in all directions. Understand that when you move your head quickly from side to side your vision actually shuts off. When you scan, look carefully for any additional threats. In practice have someone stand and hold up their fingers to show a number between one and five. That way you are always looking with the intent of seeing your environment.

Ammo is cheap, lives are expensive. Maintain your level of proficiency by regular practice.

This article, originally published 11/09/2016, has been updated. 


In February 2014, Duane Wolfe retired from his career as a Minnesota Peace Officer after more than 25 years of service (beginning in 1988). During his career, he served as a patrolman, sergeant, S.R.T., use of force and firearms instructor. He is also a full-time instructor in the Law Enforcement Program at Alexandria Technical and Community College, Alexandria, Minnesota. Duane has a Bachelor of Science Degree in Criminal Justice from Bemidji State University and a Masters Degree in Education from Southwest State University.

Make Training Fun (Again)

By Lt. Frank Borelli (ret) for

Do you remember when you went through the academy? A lot of the training, while very intense, was also a lot of fun. Why was that? Because it was new; it was competitive (to some extent); it was something you wanted to excel at and “be the best.” Veteran instructors, as they develop mandatory training, need to keep such concepts in mind. If the training can be formatted and delivered in anything resembling an entertaining fashion, with the feeling of it being new and—most especially—if it can be formatted to be competitive, the training will almost always be more enjoyable.

Making it entertaining

Entertainment is all in the presentation. Now, don’t misunderstand, law enforcement training is serious business and many instructors might argue that there should be nothing entertaining about it. It should be delivered and received with as much seriousness as the skills and knowledge taught will impart when used. That’s a given; however, if the instructor in a given program is acting like the learning is a death sentence, then no one wants to be there. The outlook and attitude of the instructor during the course presentation largely sets the tone for how it will be received. Too many student officers come into the training grumbling because they have to be there and there’s always someplace they would rather be—even if it’s working the street.

From the very opening moment when the instructor introduces him/herself and begins the presentation—which usually opens with the administrative stuff of “how long, will or won’t be a test, here’s where the bathrooms are, and this is when we should be done”—the tone is set. Jokes may not have a place in many training programs, but a cheerful happy approach to being there can change how the next few hours go.

Almost all training is given for one (or more) of three reasons:

  1. skills maintenance
  2. policy change, or…
  3. case decisions.

All three can be dry and boring because…

  1. It’s tedious and repetitive
  2. It’s boring but mandatory
  3. It’s perceived as inevitably restricting how we do our jobs.

The job facing an instructor is to remove the tedium; craft it as interesting and explain how it’s going to make doing the job easier.

Now, we freely admit, the last one may take a bit of…creativity. Quite often, especially of late, new policies being handed down, whether ultimately from a governing body (city council, county council, state legislature) or from the agency commander (chief or sheriff) seem unnecessarily restrictive. Many officers (our editorial director included) look back and think: “We’ve done this job this way for decades without complaint. Why now?” These new policies often add a new task or control on how we do a different task.

The goal of the instructor is to show how this new additional piece will ultimately benefit the officers and further assist in convicting the offender. Consider body worn cameras as the example. When they first hit the market and were pushed hard “to protect the civil rights of suspects,” law enforcement moaned. Another thing to wear. Another camera monitoring our every movement and word. But, years later, body worn cameras have proven to be excellent tools for evidence collection and have served to increase conviction rates—so much so that some civil rights organizations now claim they are an infringement of personal privacy. As an instructor, figure out what your “spin” is going to be and build the course accordingly.

Making it fun

Hands down, the most boring class you can teach is report writing. Inevitably we make it so and undo our own efforts to some extent. Yes, the part about filling in blocks and picking the correct identifier from a pull down menu is tedious and can be boring. That recognized, how often does the sergeant have to correct something from a pull down menu? More often than not, the bigger challenge is the narrative section. Too many officers today have a challenge with writing in general; any type of creative writing, descriptive text, tense, conjugation and more.

But improving writing skills in general doesn’t have to be boring. It’s about the skills, not the text. Making a report writing class more fun, as the example, could be as simple as giving the student officers a writing assignment such as, “Give me 500 words describing your dream car and why it is.” It’s a topic many of them will enjoy. “Write me a 500 word description of the coolest house you’ve ever been in.” “Write me 500 words about the best vacation you’ve ever had.” What you want to correct isn’t the topic; it’s the way the writing is produced.

Most other topics can be managed the same way to some extent. Every instructor has enough time on the street to have anecdotal stories that can be shared about something related. Make it appropriate. Tell the story as if someone from the command staff was sitting in your class and someone from HR was sitting next to them. Entertain…don’t just instruct.

Making it competitive

This is actually the easiest one. All you need is a prize. It can be something tangible like a new equipment organizer for a patrol vehicle seat, or a flashlight the agency has a spare of. It can be something less tangible like a half day off or attendance at some highly desired training program. The point is that if there is something for the students to compete to receive, then they are more motivated to do well in the program.

Obviously this is something that might need to be worked out with the command staff. Depending on the size of your agency, that might mean approval from a sergeant or lieutenant. If the agency is smaller, it might mean getting the chief to agree. Whatever it is, get it in writing and create a gift certificate good for it. At the end of the class, you want “the winner” to be handed something tangible, even if the prize won isn’t. “This gift certificate is good for four hours of paid leave, without reduction in the officer’s leave balance, upon prior approval of the time by the officer’s supervisor.”

Whoever gets the highest score on the test, wins. If there’s a tie, be prepared to hold some type of tie-breaker. If it’s defensive tactics or a firearms qualification day, set up a competitive course for score-vs-time and let those in attendance compete (with due consideration for safety). Give away a hat, a pair of gloves, or a gift card from the local favorite eatery (that the eatery management is usually happy to donate).

If you can manage to catch the attendees’ attention at the beginning of the course, entertain them throughout and give them something to win at the end, the training won’t be just another tedious boring class they are forced to attend. And a happy side effect of that will be your improved appreciation as an instructor. Instead of student officers dreading having to attend your courses, they’ll look forward to it. As that outlook compounds, the job gets even easier.  

Free Drone Pilot Training for First Responders Nationwide

Police officers and firefighters will learn how to fly drones like the Spartacus Max in Aquiline Drones’ Flight to the Future online program. The Connecticut-based company is offering tuition-free enrollment to first responders from now until the end of the year. Photo Courtesy of Aquiline Drones.

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From raging wildfires out West to devastating building collapses in the East, police and firefighters constantly rise to the challenge of keeping Americans safe. Now, Aquiline Drones (AD), a commercial drone manufacturing and cloud technology company in Connecticut, is returning the favor. Specifically, AD is offering free drone pilot training in the company’s Flight to the Future (F2F) program to all police officers and firefighters nationwide from now until the end of the year. Several police and firefighting squads in the state have already enrolled in the proprietary program, which costs $1,299 for other participants.

“We originally created Flight to the Future as a way to provide new high-tech skills in a burgeoning industry to unemployed workers during the pandemic to fulfill everyday services such as asset inspection, videography, smart farming and land surveying and mapping,” said Barry Alexander, Founder and CEO of Aquiline Drones. “But using drones to help better society and save human lives was the impetus in creating our company and we’re excited to do our part in arming those in the line of duty with crucial training to keep them safe and secure.”

The interactive online course teaches police and fire professionals how to safely and effectively utilize drone technology in their daily missions. The educational content is available on-demand at any time, so participants can take the course at their own convenience. Besides earning their FAA Part 107 commercial drone pilot certification, F2F program participants will also learn about cloud computing, AI, the Internet of Things (IoT) and other technologies transforming the unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) industry.

Interested parties may apply for free enroll by sending an email with full contact information to: For a detailed summary of the curriculum, please visit:

Alexander notes that drones have long been thought of as eyes in the sky to assess emergency situations, including search and rescue, crime scene analysis, mapping, active shooter investigations, event monitoring, and accident reconstruction from their portrayal on TV and film.  More detailed, real-world applications for police and firefighter officers include:

  • Emergency Response – When seconds count, drones can be sent ahead of the first responders to assess the situation on the ground, give responders a critical heads-up and also be used to deliver lifesaving supplies and equipment to victims that are not readily reachable by a human in time.
  • Law enforcement – When emergency calls are received that involve criminal activities, drones can be deployed ahead of police arrival to provide first-person viewing (FPV) and real time situational awareness, thus capturing crimes in action, providing first responders with live footage of the scene and even recording footage/images of criminals that may have left the scene prior to the arrival of the authorities. This has the powerful potential of reducing law enforcement costs from pursuing criminals through prolonged investigations, improving conviction rates, reducing wrongful arrests and convictions, and ultimately saving taxpayer dollars on processing arrestees and court cases. In this context, drones can be outfitted with audible devices i.e., sirens and flashing blue and red lights indicating the arrival of law enforcement on the scene, thereby serving as deterrents to crimes or escalations, while improving response rates for cities. Subsequently, police authorities will be safer on the job and more effective at solving or fighting crimes that truly necessitate their involvement.

“We envision a world in which humans and drones live and operate in harmony, using their real-time control, autonomy and analytics to enhance safety, increase efficiency and prevent unnecessary deaths,” adds Alexander. “It is our corporate responsibility to ensure that all first responders partake in this essential training to become the best drone operators in the world.”

About Aquiline Drones

Aquiline Drones is the leading American drone company founded by highly experienced aviators, systems engineers, and IT gurus. With a customer-centric model, US-based manufacturing, and world-class MRO services, the company offers innovative ways of using drones in commercial activities. Supported by a dedicated UAV cloud, autonomous drone operations with real-time control, and dynamic on-field decision-making capabilities, Aquiline Drones’ full-spectrum of technological solutions provide increased applicability across countless industries and environments by delivering real-time data insights. Aerospace-compliant processes for software, hardware manufacturing, and systems integration, along with best-in-class mission capabilities, are being planned and designed. The company continues to forge relationships with federal, state, and private organizations, developing and collaboratively launching new drone applications. Visit for more information and follow all exciting company news and updates on AD’s social platforms.