What should administrators consider when developing their department’s patrol rifle policy that is often overlooked?
Start with equipment
Don’t skimp in this area. We made some serious errors with our base patrol rifle setup. Our administrators chose an A2 version because it was $150 cheaper per unit. We have been fighting that system. A department’s patrol rifle program should start with a platform that is adaptable to future needs; flat-top variants will allow for most upgrades they will need. Also, officers will need a rail system to mount accessories. For example, a mounted light on the patrol rifle is an absolute must. Additionally, each officer must be issued at least 3 magazines with their patrol rifle. 20 round magazines are ok but 30′s should be the standard. An officer also needs to have some type of magazine pouch to hold the extra magazines. Get something of quality. If you stay with standard/quality items then you will have less issues in your future.
An effective law enforcement training plan is the basis for the entire patrol rifle program. You can have the best equipment in the world but without the proper training on how to use it, it will be useless! Each officer will need training in how to field strip the weapon and make sure that each part is not worn. (Operators Armorer Course) This will breed confidence in the use of the weapon.
The patrol rifle training should include the foundation of how to effectively fight with the weapon. Another fundamental is how to obtain a zero and determine which distance is the best zero for them. The training should include, standard positional shooting, use of cover and concealment and how to reload and unload. These core skills can take up to three days for the officers to learn. Lastly, you need to develop a qualification program and update the patrol rifle training program.
Obviously this article only covers the basics. I would love help out any LEO teams out there that want help setting up their patrol rifle program. There are so many little details that need to come into play and I could type about this for the next three days.