Boxborough Wicked Local – Boxborough police undergo gun training using special trailer
By Becki Harrington-Davis –GateHouse News Service
Boxborough, Mass. – Blue lights were flashing while Boxborough police barked instructions: “Drop the gun! Get down on your knees! Do it now!”
The two officers then made the split-second decision to fire. Then the video froze.
The exercise was part of a firearm training session Boxborough police officers underwent Aug. 12 using a specialized trailer they rented from Blue Line Corporation. The training included video scenarios depicting armed suspects, which was projected on a paper screen. Officers watched the videos, yelled commands to the fictional suspects and shot bullets at the screen when appropriate.
Compared to their usual firearm training with paper targets, officers said the video scenarios were more realistic.
“They make you think much more, because when a woman comes out of the house running at a full sprint, you have to act very quickly,” Detective Robert Romilly said after the training session.
In some of the scenarios, the suspects complied with the officers’ commands to disarm. In others, they ignored them and fired. During the training session, officers had to judge the situations and guess whether a suspect had an additional weapon.
When they shot at the screen, the bullets hit a metal bullet trap at the back of the trailer. Only muffled shots could be heard from outside the trailer, which was insulated with foam, but the participants inside wore ear and eye protection. After an hour of training, the trailer smelled like gunpowder and the floor was littered with bullet casings.
Detective Benjamin Lavine said the videos showed how difficult it is to shoot a fast-moving target in an arm or leg, which would injure the target less, rather than the torso. When suspects are running away or holding hostages in front them, Lavine said an officer’s best chance is to aim for the largest target—the middle of the body.
“It shows the idea of shooting someone in the arm or leg is unrealistic,” Lavine said.
The Boxborough Police Department rented the trailer for the first time this year. Romilly, who trains other officers, said the department would probably rent the trailer annually in addition to their standard gun training every six months.
Another training exercise involved shooting at paper targets with the lights off, using only flashlights or flashing blue siren lights to see. Seventy-two percent of all officer-involved shootings occur in diminished light, Blue Line Corporation Operations Manager Jerry Tilbor said, so the low-light training is crucial.
“That’s what Blue Line’s all about, as real as you can get without being there,” he said.
Romilly said firing a gun when lights are flashing made it more difficult to aim.
The officers demonstrated several shooting stances. Romilly said he prefers a stance called modified weaver, in which he has one foot set back from the other and angles his body slightly toward the target. Lavine uses an isosceles position, which keeps his body square and facing the target directly. The officers explained that holding the pistol farther away from their face helps them aim more accurately.
But despite the frequency of their training, neither Lavine nor Romilly said they have ever had to shoot someone. Lavine said he has come close twice, however — once in Boxborough and once in Harvard.
Copyright 2010 Wicked Local Boxborough. Some rights reserved