QUESTION: Not one of [our] 10-full time deputies has qualified or even fired their firearm in (three) years. In addition they have had no Taser training in almost two years.
Upon checking our ammunition supply I learned the reason why there has been no firearms training, we have no bullets.
I requested from the County Board of Commissioners a line item for ammunition. I was turned down. How do I address this issue. What are our liability problems if a shooting occurs. Am I opening myself to possible civil problems, or have I covered myself do to the fact I have requested the ammunition to re-qualify my staff?
If officers are not being properly qualified with weapons or tasers, there is certainly a liability issue. Every proper policy on weapons includes a provision that indicates that officers must be trained and certified with that weapon. As you know, shooting is a perishable skill and thus must be trained on a regular basis. Newer cases have indicated that there must also be training on the when to shoot rather in addition to the how to shoot.
Taser now recommends re-certification every two years, I take that as the minimum standard and think a plaintiff can make headway on a failure to train claim if such is not done. As far as your personal liability is concerned, if you have taken steps with the commission and have been turned down, it is unlikely that you would have liability because you have not been deliberately indifferent. I would encourage you and the sheriff to document the steps you\’ve taken to try to resolve any training deficiencies. I would also encourage that you do what you can with the limited resources you have to try to conduct some training on these high-risk critical tasks even if that means using water pistols and doing some shoot/don’t shoot training.