Citizen’s Academy Students Conclude Training with Firearms Practice

LPD Chief Gary McCrea Explains Some Gun Laws During Classroom Time

“You do a lot more than just eat donuts.” “Now I know why so many police show up at the same call sometimes.” “I never realized you had to make so many decisions so quickly” “This lets me put a name to the face when I see you at work.” “Going through this course has helped me to feel safer at work.” Those were some of the comments made by the eleven members of the Lamar Police Department’s Citizens Academy which concluded their course of studies this past Saturday, March 31.

The twelve week course began with twelve members this past January, and concluded with a live fire, training exercise at the LPD’s gun range, accompanied by a class BBQ at the site. Lamar Police Chief Gary McCrea summarized the course, saying, “We wanted to have the department become more familiar to the community, and the lessons help bring an understanding of basic police and law enforcement work to the students.” Weekly classes were held for two hours each Thursday night, covering some of the basics of police work, including ride-alongs, legal issues, weapons firing using a training simulator and live weapons fire to cap the three month course. One student volunteered for a handcuffing and was even tased at their request to get a feel for the actual experience. That part of the course was optional.

Lamar Librarian Deb Reynolds Draws a Bead While Chief McCrea and Chief Cook Observe

 On the last day, the final classroom instruction consisted of a general outline of safety rules for handguns. The Lamar Police Department uses Glocks, and the weapons would be adapted to shoot .22 caliber rounds to cut down on expenses. McCrea explained, “We use the adaptor kits to save money when the officers hold their practice shoots. It only costs about a penny a round, a lot cheaper than firing .223 caliber rounds. I have to stay within my budget, but when we shoot to qualify, we use the real thing. It only takes about 42 shells for our qualifying round.”

Over the Shoulder Look at Firing Range Targets

There may have been a few stomach butterflies in the first five shooters from the course, and each had their own instructor by their sides to provide instruction. The students gained some confidence after their first few shots. Some shooting a handgun for the first time in their life. After a final safety explanation, the students walked to their firing line and practiced on targets layed against a berm about 30 feet downrange, and under the guidance of the range instructor. They gradually went from single shot firings, up to three at a time, to get the experience of a real situation. Some really got into the moment, exclaiming, “Fire in the hold” before they pulled the trigger. “Been watching too much CSI,” remarked Chief McCrea.

The police officers at the exercise were off-duty, but volunteering their Saturday to help with the last day of training and others drove out to help take part when their shift had ended. Lamar Fire Chief Marshall Cook was on hand, as well as Prowers County Emergency Operations Director, Stefan Warn. McCrea explained that Cook was designated a TEMS, for Tactical Emergency Medical Service. “Cook,” he said, “is trained to go on assignment with our SWAT team primarily to provide medical services, but if the situation becomes life or death, or in defense of life, he is trained how and when to shoot.”

McCrea said certificates will be provided to the students at the upcoming City Council meeting on April 9, where he will explain more of their training to the council at large. He noted that a second class will begin May 10 and applications will be accepted until May 3. Students must be 18 and live in the Lamar area, be able pass a background check and have no felony or misdemeanor convictions on their record for one year. Contact the Lamar Police Department for more information at 336-4341. There is no charge for the course.

By Russ Baldwin



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