Upgraded weapons course for recruits
A GROUP of police recruits undertook an upgraded weapons course yesterday - the first rookie officers to be trained under a system designed to improve the way they react to dangerous firearms.
Police Training School Deputy Commandant Anthony McLoughlin said the group had completed the first part of the tactical weapons course, usually only offered to specialist units.
Mr McLoughlin said it was now considered necessary - given the growth in the use of high-powered weaponry - for all police to gain skills in advanced firearm techniques. From now on, all recruits will be offered the tactical weapons course to supplement their standard training.
''I think it was an upsurge in violent crime and the use a few years ago of grenades and semi-automatic weapons that led to us establishing this course,'' he said.
''We have had specialist units involved in this training before and we are progressively extending it throughout the force.
''However, this is the first time that we have offered it to recruits.'' Mr McLoughlin said the advanced course was an amalgam of training courses in other armed forces.
With a new target-range recently unveiled, recruits are given the opportunity of simulating the use of weapons in a variety of circumstances.
The advanced course is in addition to regular firearms training, which involves about 20 firearms lessons and unscheduled dry-fire runs. Recruits gain experience in handling a weapon with each hand, firing behind cover, using cover to advantage and the best method by which to approach a car or a flat.
Mr McLoughlin said strict procedures regulated the use of firearms by police under all circumstances.
The instructions warn a firearm should not be used where citizens are likely to be injured.
Training gave instructors the chance to stress the importance of abiding by such rules.
Every time an officer removes a firearm from his holster, an inquiry is launched to determine whether the action was justified.