(GA) Realistic training for Police Officers


March 17, 2003, 05:31 PM
The Augusta Chronicle

March 13, 2003 Thursday, FINAL EDITION


LENGTH: 471 words


BYLINE: Timothy Cox; Staff Writer

Gunfire crackles and half-inch holes scatter around the head and torso on the cardboard target.

Twenty-six bullets out of 30 fired must strike the chest and head areas for a passing score.

Tim Allen, 39, a relative newcomer to the Richmond County Sheriff's Department, wears red ear guards and goggles as he fires his weapon. The former soldier is a good shot but realizes there's room for improvement. He's not alone.

On an unseasonably warm, sunny February day at the Richmond County Sheriff's Office Training Center off U.S. Highway 1 in Blythe, Deputy Allen joins about 30 men and women who also are honing their marksmanship.

Expertise in this area can mean the difference between life and death, Deputy Allen said.

He said the M-16 rifle used by the Army is easier to master than the Glock .40-caliber handgun, the semi-automatic pistol used by the sheriff's office since 1995.

"With the M-16, you can rest your arm or the barrel on a bench - there's room and time to steady your aim," said the three-year deputy. "With the Glock, the sight is farther away from you and you must line up the sights. It's a lot more difficult and it takes practice to get it right."

Capt. Ray Meyers, who's in charge of the facility, said the firearms training is invaluable for new recruits and veterans alike.

"It helps them make split-second decisions on the streets," the captain said.

Handgun training comprises a variety of skills, said Sgt. P.J. Fogle, the county's lead firearms training officer. The average gunfight occurs in three seconds, with 2.3 rounds being fired.

To ensure the safety of officers and the public, deputies are trained to hold the weapon in either hand and aim for the chest or head.

"A deputy never surrenders his or her weapon," Sgt. Fogle said.

Since the Blythe facility opened in the early 1980s, it has become one of the premier sites of its kind, said Maj. Ken Autry of the sheriff's office.

"It's unique that we have our own state-of-the-art facility," he said.

The facility also provides deputies a training area for safe driving, using radar guns, and physical and self-defense training.

The training facility also houses the Georgia Peace Officer Standards and Training certification agency for law enforcement personnel statewide.

Other agencies training at the 500-acre facility are the Georgia Bureau of Investigation, Federal Bureau of Investigation, SLED and police departments from Blythe, Waynesboro and Wrens.

Former Richmond County Sheriff Charles Webster came up with the idea to build the center around 1987, said Sheriff Ronnie Strength.

"We're fortunate to have this. It's a benefit to train daily without sending our people outside the county. Our instructors do a great job," he said.

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March 17, 2003, 05:41 PM
Some training is better than no training.

March 17, 2003, 05:49 PM

How did you hear about l'il ol' Augusta Ga . way out there in Moscow? This article is in my hometown newspaper. Although the article is a lot of fluff, the facility mentioned is top notch. Some of my LEO friends rate it very highly. Next door to this range is a world class skeet/trap/sporting clays facility with an excellent 150yd shooting range. If you're interested, next time you are in the area and have some time to shoot I would be happy to send a few down range with you.:)



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