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Old 11-13-2012, 01:09   #1
JDR
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Case law regarding training with issued rifles...

Currently, our rifles (M4's) are issued to vehicles, not officers. I am trying to get us to purchase additional rifles so we are all assigned one, or allow personally owned rifles. I know there is case law regarding using the same weapon you train with. For example, if I am involved in an OIS with the rifle that is in the car I'm driving tonight, but I qualified with who knows which rifle and drive different cars occasionally then there is increased liability for the city. My google is weak and has't turned up anything specific. Admin is receptive if I bring proof, so help me out if you can. Thanks.


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Old 11-13-2012, 01:22   #2
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Currently, our rifles (M4's) are issued to vehicles, not officers. I am trying to get us to purchase additional rifles so we are all assigned one, or allow personally owned rifles. I know there is case law regarding using the same weapon you train with. For example, if I am involved in an OIS with the rifle that is in the car I'm driving tonight, but I qualified with who knows which rifle and drive different cars occasionally then there is increased liability for the city. My google is weak and has't turned up anything specific. Admin is receptive if I bring proof, so help me out if you can. Thanks.


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I would really really hate to see what would happen in court when there is an OIS where officer used a weapon he is supposed to use but has never qualified with it. I thought all agencies were pretty much on board due to liability. I guess I'm wrong again.
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Old 11-13-2012, 02:03   #3
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We qualify twice a year, and all rifles are set up exactly the same way, but we don't always use the exact same rifle to qual with as is in your car.

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Old 11-13-2012, 04:28   #4
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So are you issued a personal shotgun as well? I'd think the same policy that applies to the shotgun applies to the rifle. But I don't know for sure.

ETA: Maybe the rifle is different because of the range. But if you have to switch out your handgun after you qualified. Do they make you go qualify with that specific handgun or does your previous qual suffice until it's time to qual again?

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Old 11-13-2012, 05:15   #5
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Handguns are issued to you personally so you always use your handgun. We don't have shotguns anymore except as less lethal weapons, but everyone gets an initial 16 hrs rifle course then 4 hrs update training twice a year and it is required to have a rifle when on patrol. They are in the rack, mag inserted, empty chamber on safe. Actually, they are really nice with aimpoint micro T1 optics, BUIS, VTAC slings and Streamlight light, and we only run PMAGS. I'm just looking to support the cost of buying a rifle for everyone or a policy allowing personally owned rifles.

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Old 11-13-2012, 05:51   #6
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Weapons issued to cars are not a great idea. My agency still did that when we first got hired. Issued a Mossberg 590A1 to each car. No one took care of them, they were rarely shot and never cleaned. One slacker used to tip his cigarette ashes in the barrel day after day.

The guns were in such bad shape they were replaced after only a few years. We are now each issued a 870P. I imagine mine will last the rest of my career.

As far as case law goes I cant really think of any. As long as its a good shoot I cant really see how it would matter. Anyone can raise a BS lawsuit looking for a check, doesn't mean it will go anywhere.

I have heard the "carry the same game you qualify with" and I dont agree with it in all regards. I often have several guys qualify with the same shotgun to save time cleaning at the end of qual day. Leaves more time for handgun shooting.

Lets say I break a trigger spring in my P226 and have to be issued a temporary replacement. Should I really be expected to be on admin leave until I can get to the range and qual with the temp gun? Would you not think a judge or a juror could understand why that was necessary.

I understand wanting each officer to have his own weapon issued to him, but I think you are looking at the wrong angle. Present it as more of a maintenance and longevity concern. Officers who are issued a weapon can be held accountable for its neglect. They are also more likely to shoot the weapon often and notice any problems with reliability.

You are also more likely to know what condition the weapon is in when it is retrieved in an emergency. Is loaded? Is the safety off or on? Is it stored with a loaded mag, safety on, and chamber empty etc...

Good luck. I'd be happy with a rifle issued to my car. We are not allowed rifles and have sent many write ups to the chief. All denied with no explanation.
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Old 11-13-2012, 06:02   #7
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Our rifles are mechanically zeroed and left in the vehicle. I personally hate this but a compromise is to allow personally owned guns. The downside is that we don't have a lot of officers eager to shell out the money to set themselves up with it.
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Old 11-13-2012, 06:03   #8
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Our rifles are mechanically zeroed and left in the vehicle. I personally hate this but a compromise is to allow personally owned guns. The downside is that we don't have a lot of officers eager to shell out the money to set themselves up with it.
How close to the bullseye they hit at 50yds, on average?
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Old 11-13-2012, 06:12   #9
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We have department Bushmaster M4A1 rifles assigned to a vehicle. During the last 5 years, every single officer has qualified out to 100 yards using various pool rifles with no issues. The rifles are zeroed by the firearms instructor (me).

I've been a firearms instructor for over 12 years and have never come across a case law stating you must carry the firearm you qualify with. Every officer has qualified out to 25 yards with a handgun that had the sights set at the factory.

There is no increased liability for properly zeroed pool rifles. Are individual rifles a better idea? Sure, but with ever shrinking budgets, do you honestly think a department can afford to buy a rifle for every officer? Personally owned rifles are a way around this, but many big wigs cringe at this thought.
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Old 11-13-2012, 07:47   #10
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I would think it would be required by the governing body who certifies LEOs in your state. Here is an excerpt from our POST Commission in TN regarding annual firearm training:

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1110-04-.02 FIREARMS REQUALIFICATION REQUIREMENT. Each in-service training session must include firearms training requalification with service handgun and any other firearm authorized by Department; at least eight (8) hours in duration. Each trainee must score at least seventy-five percent (75%) to qualify.
There might be case law out there, but it might be state specific. I will buzz around Westlaw for CA case law on it and get back to you.

I would definitely start with the POST folks though. They may require it as part of your annual training. If they do and your agency doesn't conform to it, then access to those weapons shouldn't even be allowed.

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Old 11-13-2012, 07:53   #11
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In my agency, shotguns are the only "pool" weapons. Anything else, we must qualify with the specific firearm carried or utilized. Every officer assigned to patrol is issued an M4, and personally owned rifles are allowed, as long as they are approved by the armorer and the chief grants permission on a case by case basis.

As the patrol rifle armorer, I want to keep individually issued AR's. As badly as our issued rifles are beaten around in and out of the cars, rattling around in the racks, I can't imaging how they'd look/work if there was no accountability because they were pool guns.
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Old 11-13-2012, 07:58   #12
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My agency (well, really only one sergeant, not sure if there's an actual policy) requires I be qualified on any serial number I carry. I think that's ridiculous. They're all gen 3 Glock 22, for Pete's sake. Not that it really matters as I don't really have an occasion to carry a different gun, but still.

Rifles are personally owned and a different situation altogether.
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Old 11-13-2012, 08:14   #13
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Mas Ayoob can probably point you in the right direction for appropriate info. He is active in this forum.


http://www.glocktalk.com/forums/forumdisplay.php?f=256
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Old 11-13-2012, 08:38   #14
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I can understand pool weapons for shotguns; no zeroing to them. For rifles, though, I've always been taught that they have to be zeroed to the individual shooting them (differences in eyesight, relief, etc). Would a pool rifle zeroed by one individual and shot by another be off enough to cause a miss (or worse, a hit to an innocent)? THAT, to me, could open up a major can of worms in an OIS. I know some of the "pool" SMGs that I've qualified with will shoot a nice little group, but shoot 4-6" right for me, with others shooting them and having them spot on, or low, or high (at 50 yards). To me, at least, that's unacceptable.
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Old 11-13-2012, 09:17   #15
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Originally Posted by JDR View Post
Currently, our rifles (M4's) are issued to vehicles, not officers. I am trying to get us to purchase additional rifles so we are all assigned one, or allow personally owned rifles. I know there is case law regarding using the same weapon you train with. For example, if I am involved in an OIS with the rifle that is in the car I'm driving tonight, but I qualified with who knows which rifle and drive different cars occasionally then there is increased liability for the city. My google is weak and has't turned up anything specific. Admin is receptive if I bring proof, so help me out if you can. Thanks.[/URL]
I have never heard of any such "case law", nor do I believe that the department truly sees any additional liability solely because pool weapons are used. What we are talking about is an argument that could be made by a plaintiff's attorney some day, in the relatively unlikely event that an OIS civil suit actually makes it to a jury without either 1) a summary judgement or 2) a settlement.
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Old 11-13-2012, 10:04   #16
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I can understand pool weapons for shotguns; no zeroing to them. For rifles, though, I've always been taught that they have to be zeroed to the individual shooting them (differences in eyesight, relief, etc). Would a pool rifle zeroed by one individual and shot by another be off enough to cause a miss (or worse, a hit to an innocent)? THAT, to me, could open up a major can of worms in an OIS. I know some of the "pool" SMGs that I've qualified with will shoot a nice little group, but shoot 4-6" right for me, with others shooting them and having them spot on, or low, or high (at 50 yards). To me, at least, that's unacceptable.
Why wouldn't it be an issue with shotguns, but be an issue with rifle?

Our range staff zero'ed the armory shotguns we used to qualify with, buck and slugs, and there weren't issues with the sighting.

Our range staff zero'ed the M16A1's they have in the armory, and are used to qualify, and there haven't been issues.

I believe the "everyone's eye sight is different" theory is true, but seriously overstated.

Might it mean you shoot a 1/2" right and the next person shoots a 1/2 left, yup.

Several inches seems unlikely and probably has more to do with the shooter.

For rifles that are capable of 600 yard shots, that are used for 100 yards and closer, the sighting isn't a real issue.

If you were trying to make 500 yard shots, or using the rifle as a "sniper", then yes it should be zero'ed to you individually.

But center off mass shooting, the trajectory of the round has more of an impact on point of impact than eyesight issues.
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Old 11-13-2012, 10:27   #17
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Why wouldn't it be an issue with shotguns, but be an issue with rifle?

Our range staff zero'ed the armory shotguns we used to qualify with, buck and slugs, and there weren't issues with the sighting.

Our range staff zero'ed the M16A1's they have in the armory, and are used to qualify, and there haven't been issues.

I believe the "everyone's eye sight is different" theory is true, but seriously overstated.

Might it mean you shoot a 1/2" right and the next person shoots a 1/2 left, yup.

Several inches seems unlikely and probably has more to do with the shooter.

For rifles that are capable of 600 yard shots, that are used for 100 yards and closer, the sighting isn't a real issue.

If you were trying to make 500 yard shots, or using the rifle as a "sniper", then yes it should be zero'ed to you individually.

But center off mass shooting, the trajectory of the round has more of an impact on point of impact than eyesight issues.
The 4-6" off groups were with a Colt 9mm SMG at 50 yards, and were personally seen by me. They were nice, tight groups, but almost off the silhouette. To me, that can be the difference between a hit and a miss/bystander hit at 100 yards. As to the shotguns, ours are mostly bead-sight; no adjustment to them.
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Old 11-14-2012, 01:24   #18
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The 4-6" off groups were with a Colt 9mm SMG at 50 yards, and were personally seen by me. They were nice, tight groups, but almost off the silhouette. To me, that can be the difference between a hit and a miss/bystander hit at 100 yards. As to the shotguns, ours are mostly bead-sight; no adjustment to them.
Your 1 experience, vs hundreds going the other way, isn't convincing evidence.

For years my department wouldn't allow scopes, because everyone's eyes work different..............

What actual EVIDENCE have you had presented to you to prove that theory?

If I had to guess why you had such different POA/POI with one carbine, and 2 shooters, I would guess that the shooters were not using the sights the same way.

I would also suggest, that if the theory was valid, it would create more problems with handguns, due to the shorter sight radius.

Yet most service handguns just have mechanically zero'ed sights.
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Old 11-14-2012, 09:53   #19
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I have never heard of any such "case law", nor do I believe that the department truly sees any additional liability solely because pool weapons are used. What we are talking about is an argument that could be made by a plaintiff's attorney some day, in the relatively unlikely event that an OIS civil suit actually makes it to a jury without either 1) a summary judgement or 2) a settlement.

I guess I read it wrong. I was assuming that officers were not getting the training on the rifles in the vehicles at all. I wasn't focused on the issue of using a different rifle depending on the vehicle you are in. I'm assuming all of the rifles are the same. I don't see a liability issue there either.


We have M4s in every one of our vehicles. All of our officers are trained on that particular rifle. Every rifle is the same make/model/setup with the same sights. I don't see the "sight" being an issue because they have EO Tech ghost sights. You put the dot on the target and fire. From 75 yds pretty much everyone was hitting groups no bigger than a pancake.
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Old 11-14-2012, 13:22   #20
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Currently, our rifles (M4's) are issued to vehicles, not officers. I am trying to get us to purchase additional rifles so we are all assigned one, or allow personally owned rifles. I know there is case law regarding using the same weapon you train with. For example, if I am involved in an OIS with the rifle that is in the car I'm driving tonight, but I qualified with who knows which rifle and drive different cars occasionally then there is increased liability for the city. My google is weak and has't turned up anything specific. Admin is receptive if I bring proof, so help me out if you can. Thanks.


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I dont think you will find case law that says an officer can not use a weapon they have not qualified with in an emergency.

If your PD was under attack and there was an MP5 on a desk, would you say "I am not qualified, I cant use that, I might get sued" or would you man up and use what is available?

Yes the PD is required to make sure you qualify, but if your duty gun is taken for a shooting and they give you the same make, you can go back to work with the replacement gun. If you need a shotgun from a patrol car and you grab it from a closer car than yours, you can still use it. Same for a rifle. I know what your saying and it would be great for every officer to get issued all the cool stuff, but at time you will need to share and use whats available.
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Old 11-14-2012, 14:05   #21
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In my agency, shotguns are the only "pool" weapons. Anything else, we must qualify with the specific firearm carried or utilized. Every officer assigned to patrol is issued an M4, and personally owned rifles are allowed, as long as they are approved by the armorer and the chief grants permission on a case by case basis.

As the patrol rifle armorer, I want to keep individually issued AR's. As badly as our issued rifles are beaten around in and out of the cars, rattling around in the racks, I can't imaging how they'd look/work if there was no accountability because they were pool guns.
One agency I worked at issued pool rifles, SMGs and shotguns as needed. I always wondered when I checked one out, if I needed to test fire it, since you really didn't know who had handled it before, if they had cleaned or dissembled it, and possibly left something important out when doing so.
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Old 11-14-2012, 18:30   #22
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One agency I worked at issued pool rifles, SMGs and shotguns as needed. I always wondered when I checked one out, if I needed to test fire it, since you really didn't know who had handled it before, if they had cleaned or dissembled it, and possibly left something important out when doing so.
What the heck did you need rifles for hanging out at the pool sippin pina coladas?

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Old 11-15-2012, 00:15   #23
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First what we have. Colt 6920s with EOtechs and GG&G flip up BUIS that we now leave up due to a nearby large agency having an EOtech die at a critical moment and the flip up sight was down. They also have a 6P and VTAC sling. Pretty conventional. They are zeroed by 1-2 officers at 50 yards. Unforntunately they are zeroed with the small aperature and then placed on the large aperature. They are then checked out by officers every day.

I suspect a lot of this is a hold over from when we had MP5s. We only had a few officers that were trained to instruct them and they were only zeroed by those instructors. Since they were short range weapons it didn't really matter as much.

Since I had to qualify everyone in the department required to qualify with them (85 people at that time) a few years back I saw a wide range people shooting off the zero. About 80% were right on target. About 10% were close enough that it didn't matter that much. The final 10% made me think they were better off not trying for anything other than COM outside of 25 yards.

I think some people, like me, have significant vison problems in their dominate eye. For them a pool rifle is going to be a glorified shotgun.

My recommendations for rifles would be to issue a low cost but high quality rifle such as a Colt 6520 with a good sling and light. Tritium front sights and same plane aperatures might be nice too. You could probably do that set up along with a half dozen mags for $1,200 or so. I would issue one per officer. I would allow the officers to buy either a personal upper or their own rifle if they wanted to add glass, different lights, or other useful things. If they went the upper route they would have to keep the lower stock.

If we were going to have shotguns on patrol then it would be either an optional, personal shotgun or we would go whole hog and buy everyone a shotgun. The issue shotgun would have GRS, light, and sling. If you want more, buy your own.

I am big on one weapon, one officer due to having seen even pistols needing to be adjusted for some officers. It isn't as common but it does happen.

I would be surprised if they was case law buy Mas might have case studies. I would not be surprised if there were an ooops or to due to pool rifles. They are the kind of things that would get paid out fast.
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Old 11-15-2012, 01:18   #24
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I shouldn't have to tell anyone who has testified in court, the scrutiny you endure. You can have an airtight DWI case, and when you leave the court with your tail between your legs, you'll be wondering if law enforcement was really was your calling. I would think that if a defense attorney or a trial lawyer gets wind the rifle or pistol you used to shoot the DEFENDANT and/or their client was not sighted in by you, bad bad things would happen. Again, I might be terribly wrong on this.
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Old 11-15-2012, 15:19   #25
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I shouldn't have to tell anyone who has testified in court, the scrutiny you endure. You can have an airtight DWI case, and when you leave the court with your tail between your legs, you'll be wondering if law enforcement was really was your calling. I would think that if a defense attorney or a trial lawyer gets wind the rifle or pistol you used to shoot the DEFENDANT and/or their client was not sighted in by you, bad bad things would happen. Again, I might be terribly wrong on this.
Like a radar gun or Lidar, the user must know the equipment, check its function and insure its "calibrated". No need to explain how it was made and exactly how it works. No need to adjust the sights perfect, just need to be able to hit the target and qualify within set standards.

Duty guns dont come with adjustable sights, they come with fixed sights (I would hope all are night sights). At the range the most I see is a basic adjustment of sights if way off. The pistol is never zeroed in for perfect windage and elevation, the officer gets a ball park and goes with that.

Shotgun's get bead sights for the most and any officer should be able to qual with any gun.

States set min qual standards in most places. Now if you want a law suit, set a high standard for qual and shoot a M4 out to 300 Meters, that way if you miss at under 300M you can be sued. Make everyone shoot at least a set score and record that score so it can be brought to trial to show how good or bad you shoot.

Most smart places have a easy qual thats pass/fail. There is a reason for it. It protects officers/supervisors/admin/departments/cities.

I agree every officer should get their own rifle and have it zeroed to them and it be their propertry. But I also get the way most places work and how most laws work.
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