Bill William Arganda Blog;
Although extremely tragic that a life was lost, the content of this blog focuses on how this occurred and why.
Who truly bares the liability?
Full time peace officers train certain ways to maintain the highest level of safety and effeciency possible. Repetition, muscle memory, mental preparedness, continuity are the primary attributes in creating well trained public servants.
How police train is how they will perform…it’s safe to say this in many other emergency services industries as well. So a significant question to ask when police error is, how well trained were they with the tool(s) they use that contribute to a tragedy? In this particular case, the deputy mistakenly went for his Taser….when determining fault and correction, it is crucial to ask and inquire into the ability, and agency culture that promoted, or minimized, training efforts. How much and well did this deputy train at the shooting range? How did he train when qualifying for Taser certification or recertification? Were their efficient means by the agency to address improvement needs? It would be beyond foolish for the agency not to have policy in place that dictates minimum training standards, but equally important is how well did the agency oversee and regulate enforcement of their training policy? Did cost play a bigger factor than competence? I am not talking about the deputy’s competence, I’m speaking specifically about the agency’s competence in proactive liability oversight. Perhaps that deputy performed exactly as he trained, or did not train. No competent policy would allow any personnel to carry a gun handled device on the same side as a handgun.
Training costs money, beyond payroll and must be shared with a limited general budget. Public funds are limited for any agency and must be creatively utilized to address all spending needs, including training. What training is most important, mandatory and optional?
In California training standards are developed by The Police Officers Standards & Training (POST). It’s the state recognized authority in determining minimum training requirements, the hours of training for each, as well as the frequency of such training. Their determinations are based not only on expert opinion, but realistic budgetary abilities as well. Of course when discussing police training we’d all sleep better at night knowing police had unlimited access to shooting training for accuracy, use of force training to avoid unnecessary injury, and mental training for more adaptive methods of public safety and awarness. Reality is, there isn’t that option. There has to be limits in training due to limits in training resources. With that, we get some ex cops turned politican, or just politicians that set boundaries on how well or not police are trained. Perishable skils training is is exactly that….if you do not continually train in a particular required skill one’s ability in that skill perishes.
As a former certified Taser instructor myself, i know first hand Taser recommends that police create policy, practice and training that requires operators to carry their Taser on the opposite side of their gun. Most proactive agencies follow that sound advice, some keep it discretionary. Shame on them!
It’s evident Tasers cost taxpayers a lot of money…add the extra cost of the cartridges (the attached compartment where the probes and wires shoot out from), up keep, software, and of course training (often overtime), and an agency can easily find themselves looking for means to limit the cost and time involved in having the device. As a result, agencies have to be diverse in their thinking and structure of training. What I mean is, certainly there are no unlimited resource to fund training, but there are cost free managerial avenues to maximize the limited training in order to minimize the inevitable risk.
Agencies must implement certain policy that not only adopts manufacturer recommendations, but take it a step further and enhance the recommendation as to coincide with training standards. In this example, if the agency had policy that prohibited anyone from carrying a Taser on the same side as a gun, I am certain there would have been no deadly force issue. Such a certain policy would have also eliminated the reserve deputy status issue as well. Because the deputy was a reserve, his exposure to training and police work all together is limited, infrequent and usually with less training than a full time peace officer. All the more reason to have sound policy in place that would have countered the limited Taser training time.
I can’t get in the mind of the deputy, I can’t say why he did what he did, but I can tell you that if that deputy was properly trained, enforced by sound policy, any errors of his due to lack of training would not of ended in the loss of life. Unless there is sound evidence that this deputy himself played a criminally intentional role in the act, I truly hope this is look at as the horrible mistake it is, and the blame rest more with those that placed the Taser in the ill trained hands of the employee.