Blue Line


October 20, 2015  By

110 words – MR

Thanks for the great magazine. I read it all the time and frequent the forum!

I was under the impression that the standard three mags per officer was to allow for pistol malfunctions as it is almost always because of the magazine – and the Tactical Reload that is supposed to occur after an engagement. While 45 rounds might seem excessive, I was under the impression that it was more about being able to keep the pistol operational by changing magazines.

The best part of your article is your mention of plain clothes officers not being armed – it’s an epidemic.


Keep up the great work!

Jason Forbes
Edmonton, AB


I am writing in response to the publisher’s commentary from the October issue (<Mission creep in firearms training,) written by Morley Lymburner. He suggests that a creeping militarization of police firearms training and equipment has occurred in Canada and ultimately poses the question; ” …have we gone too far today?” The answer is No!

Allow me to address a few of Mr. Lymburner’s points one by one:

{Mr. Lymburner suggests that “military training styles may have crept into policing”}

There is no doubt that both the police and military have experienced advances in the science of shooting over the past few decades. The data driving them has come from a variety of sources including, but not limited to, law enforcement, military operations, studies in human kinetics and yes, even competitive shooting. Unfortunately much of what we’ve learned has come as a result of officer fatalities in firearms related encounters. Fortunately agencies such as the FBI have amassed this data for our collective benefit. As a member of the Canadian Forces in the early and mid 90s I can tell you that the firearms training then was light years behind what was being taught to Canadian police officers during the same period.

{“Officers are trained to fire two or three consecutive shots in rapid succession each time they use their weapon”}

This is categorially false! Officers are trained to have the ability to fire one, two, three or as many shots (or none as the case may be) as are deemed necessary to stop the threat in a particular encounter. This is done to provide the officer with the skills to shoot accurately should multiple rounds be required, and is reinforced with reality based training simulations. Trainers cannot prescribe specifically how many rounds will be required for any given situation.

{Officers are “required to carry two extra magazines on their gun belts, despite the negative effects of carrying this extra weight over a 25 year career”}

What negative effects? Considering that in the revolver era we carried two speed loaders of six rounds each, we are now only carrying an additional 12-15 rounds (assuming .40 cal ammunition). Is he suggesting that this extra few ounces is the straw that is breaking the proverbial camel’s back? As an officer approaching my 20th year in policing, virtually all operational… I have to say I’m feeling pretty good. I would probably suggest those “negative effects” are likely related to poor physical conditioning. That or the additional less lethal and intermediate weapons we are now required to carry. Should we dump those instead?

{“Police rarely if ever need 45 rounds”}

Police rarely if ever need any rounds, statistically speaking. But when you do need them it sure is comforting to know that you have more than enough. I would describe getting killed because you ran out of ammunition as a “negative effect”.

{Police are far more accountable for their use of force on an individual basis than soldiers}

This is a popular myth within policing and frankly insulting to our military service personnel. Soldiers, particularly in modern military operations, are often deployed to non-permissive operating environments (that means you can’t just shoot who you want when you want), and subject to rules of engagement that are more restrictive, in some cases, than the legal framework governing police use of force.

While many senior police leaders have their hands poised nervously over the panic button in response to a growing, and in my opinion, unfounded fear of the (perceived) militarization of police, a very different picture emerges at the ground level among front line officers.

What I see is well trained, professional women and men who are now growing increasingly hesitant and apprehensive about using justifiable and necessary force of any kind for fear of possible legal repercussions, losing their jobs and or criticism. I encourage them to ignore the armchair quarterbacking and focus on their training and duty. Do that and everything will be all right, I say, but it is getting harder and harder to reassure officers that are inundated with over played, media fueled criticism.

Mr. Lymburner asked if we’ve gone too far. My answer is no. Not even close.

The world has changed, but don’t take my word for it. Watch the recently released video of Vancouver Police Officers fighting for their lives in a shootout with a crazed gunman near the seawall last year. Ask those officers if we’ve gone too far with our training and equipment. Better yet, ask the families of recently fallen officers in Canada if we’ve gone too far. I think you know what their answer will be.

James Flewelling
Vancouver, BC

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