We still lose a couple of officers a year in simulated force-on-force training. These accidents occur because live weapons are somehow introduced into the training area, which happens for one of two reasons: Either 1) no good safety protocol is implemented, or 2) a good safety protocol is implemented but insufficiently followed.
Why don t good safety protocols get implemented? Because way too many simulations are run off-the-cuff, with some half-baked safety protocol.
As for reason 2, with good safety protocols in place, why aren t they sufficiently followed? Here the fault lies with the safety protocols themselves. They may be 100-percent safe when followed, but if they consume too many resources (i.e., too many officers, too much space, too much time or too much equipment), or if they re just unworkable under the demands of a law enforcement trainer working with small budgets and too little time, they will fall by the wayside.
To address this problem, the Police Officers Safety Association (POSA) together with the Massachusetts Law Enforcement Firearms Instructors Association (MLEFI) developed a simulation instructor course. You can download it free from the POSA Web site at www.posai.org. The MLEFI/POSA protocol emphasizes keeping all real weapons, loaded and unloaded, out of the simulation area. An unloaded real gun is nothing more than a dangerous dummy gun, so you should use a dummy gun instead. At only $35 or so for a training gun, there s no excuse for not providing them.