By David Tuma
The Central Texas Regional Law Enforcement Training Facility in Belton is fully operational. This state of the art modern training facility is for both lethal and nonlethal training.
Classrooms buildings have been in use for the sometime. The “Action Target System” for live fire training of police officers opened a few weeks ago. The training facility is available to law enforcement agencies in a seven county area around Belton. Over 13,000 cubic yards of dirt were donated for the berm behind the firing area. The facility is being regularly used. One of the first departments to use the facility were from the University of Mary Hardin-Baylor.
Advanced training for law enforcement response to critical incidents involving weapons such as the active shooter response training known as “ALERRT is being conducted on site. This system was provided through a $49,000 CJD grant in the second phase of the project.
The first phase was through a similar $30,000 grant for site preparation, berm, shooting slab, concrete walkway, loading and unloading area, fence and BISD buildings. Phase three is for a grant application for a covered area for pistol range shooting with lights and baffles. The Belton Independent School District donated portables but they had to be moved.
There is an orientation before officers can use the range. This range is not open to the public. Range rules were developed by the Belton Police Department using NRA Standards. An automated warning system was provided to homeowners living in the area when live fire will begin. They can choose between a phone call or text message.
The range is set up for up for officers who carry AR-15’s. The targeting system have ten targets set up with ranges varying. Those targets are controlled from one of the buildings behind the range.
Each target swivels and it may be an armed suspect or a civilian. They can turn five or one target at a time or ten. This is difficult because it creates hostage situations from different angles. The officer in the training is a standing position.
The training is all run electronically and each training pattern has a number. The number is sent to the control center by hand or walkie-talkie. This system provides shoot or don’t shoot training not found in the area.
There is a rail behind the ten targets. This rail has a targeting system that moves. This provides officers training using a pistol or rifle on moving targets. The entire system is protected by double reinforced hard plastic railroad ties.
Only trained personnel can operate the system. Local departments can’t just come in and set up what they want.
Belton Police Officers set up quarterly range training days. Most importantly the officers aren’t just shooting at paper. They are training on the use of force combined with accuracy under stress.
This is one thing the general public and social media does not consider when evaluating officers in the field. What is like to going into a dangerous situation at night and it ends up being a live fire situation.
This facility gives training to officers in those decisions. This isn’t just a few buildings and firing boards.
“You can train with more than just a piece of paper. We can better train our staff using this facility. The range has been two years of work” said Police Chief Gene Ellis.
Officers in Belton train at 25 yards and are required to fire 50 rounds with 80 percent accuracy. The area they are firing at is little larger than a bowling pin.
SWAT is required to be in the 90 percent range. The test is timed. The officers also train from 50-yards out. The state requires 70 percent accuracy compared to Belton’s 80 percent. Belton requires twice a year qualification, the state once a year.
For those unfamiliar with pistols 50-yards is a very, very long ways away with open sites. Most shootings are within seven yards.
Officers are required to use either hand. They have to be able to shoot kneeling or standing in Belton’s training. There is training shooting behind cover and simulated misfire rounds during a deadly arms confrontation. Officers are also given a magazine not all the way in situation. “The gun goes click what do you do? You will behave under stress like you perform in in training,” said Ellis.
They use dummy rounds in the training. There was a department way out west where officers were required to stack the brass of spent casings during training. The dead officers were found with stacked shells on the back of police vehicles. They were stacking the shells just like training except this was real life.
As with anything that requires action if you are not familiar with the situation you tend to think.
A study done by the Kansas City found that officers with their badges on their hips tended to be involved in more officer shooting officer situations. Belton switched to the badge in the center of the chest because of this study.
The officers also train shooting balloons. They do pushups then are required to fire with accuracy and with the use of the boards not shoot a civilian. The course provides fire arm decision making under stress.
Eventual plans is for a shooting house for lethal and non-lethal training, a driving course and rifle range up to 100 yards.
Most shootings happen within four seconds.
The shootings in Waco a year back worked something like this. Everybody was running from for a crazy situation with multiple armed bikers while officers were running into it.