Firearms Training And The Conservation Enforcement Officer

The Conservation Enforcement Officer is today faced with a challenge that all law enforcement officers face. This is the growing trend of disrespect and disregard for our laws, law officers and the rights of others. This is a trend that we have seen developing in this country, particularly over the past decade. We have seen several of our major cities torn by violence. Our college campuses have become a place for many of our young people to demonstrate and make demands, and when these demands are not met, these same young people go on burning, pillaging and looting sprees. We have seen sniping, ambush and outright murder of enforcement officers and other officials. In Alabama approximately nine percent of our Conservation Officers have been shot. Several more officers have been shot at, but luckily were not hit. Our courts seemingly are giving all rights to the criminal and taking away the rights of his victim and the law officer. Public apathy towards the violator seems rampant, yet the public continually demands better law enforcement. The Conservation Enforcement Officers in Alabama have been called on several times over the past few years to assist other enforcement agencies in quelling disturbances, patrolling strife-torn areas and enforcing curfews. In most of these cases officers were not called on to use their sidearms, and very seldom do Conservation Officers find it necessary to use their weapons in the every day enforcement of Game and Fish laws. However, if an officer is forced to use his weapon to defend himself or his partner, the degree of trainingin the use of the weapon becomes a most important factor. This brings me to the topic I wish to discuss with you today — Firearms Training and Proficiency for the Conservation Enforcement Officer. As Conservation Enforcement Officers we face a situation that is unique in law enforcement. When a State Trooper, Deputy Sheriff or City Patrolman approaches a subject to check for a misdemeanor, he does not face a loaded firearm except in rare instances. However, when we approach a hunter, whether he is a violator or a legal hunter, we almost always fac e a loaded firearm. While it would be foolish to say that the average hunter or fisherman is dangerous, the small percentage that is not law-abiding presents a challenge to the officer. This is where a well trained officer is a necessity. Some of our officers have the initiative to acquire firearms training on their own, many by participating in schools conducted by other enforcement agencies to train their own men. This is very good as far as it goes, but does not satisfy our overall need for firearms training.

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