The Arizona Republic 15 Feb 2017 JENNA MILLER
Help for police: Smart Firearms, a Tempe-based company, designs and manufactures police training weapons that are growing in popularity.  The goal is to cut down on accidental firings.

Kevin McCullar (left) and Tyler Pappas use Smart Firearms training weapons in a “clear the room” drill at
Chandler Gilbert Community College.

When under stress, people react in predictable ways. Pulses rise. Adrenaline spikes. And, fists clench.
It’s that last response that concerns Mike Farrell and is the reason why four years ago he created a new product with safety in mind.  Farrell is the founder of Smart Firearms, a Tempe-based company that designs and manufactures police training weapons. These training weapons are growing in popularity, with 300 weapons sold in just January of this year, already more than half the total sales last year.  Costing between $150 and $400, Smart Firearms are used in many of the police training programs in Phoenix, from college law enforcement programs to the Maricopa County Sheriff’s Department.  The goal is to cut down on accidental firings, a harmful and costly problem in police departments. Accidental firings can occur when an officer’s hand accidently clenches with their finger on the trigger, either due to stress or sympathetic reflex. The latter is a natural tendency for both hands to do the same thing. If an officer makes a fist or grabs an offender with one hand, the other hand will want to close as well.  The simple solution is to train officers to keep their fingers along the side of the gun until they are ready to shoot. But it’s not as easy as it sounds.
“From the time you were five years old and you looked up at a James Bond poster, or anything like that, where does everyone have their finger on a firearm?” explained Farrell. “It’s never where it should be, it’s always right on the trigger.”  So Smart Firearms react with a beeping sound when the user rests his or her finger on the trigger without the intention to shoot. This is a sharp and immediate notice to trainee and supervisor that something is wrong.
Like many products, Smart Firearms was born out of a gap in the marketplace. Officers practiced beginning gun-handling using hard plastic molded into the general shape of a gun. Many still train this way, but it isn’t very precise. And John Terpay, Director of Chandler Gilbert Community College Law Enforcement Academy, says it doesn’t teach important gun-handling habits.
“What you do in the real world is what you’ve done based on the training,” said Terpay, who uses 30 Smart Firearms in his training program with each class of recruits. “It doesn’t make sense for us to have molded guns . ... It’s unrealistic.”
Maricopa Sheriff’s Department deputies Rod Jackson and Jeff Hall believe that molded plastic guns have a place in training. They are cheap and can take a lot of daily abuse.
However, in combination with these plastic models they use Smart Firearms, as well as other training devices. They say the department is focusing on more than just how well recruits can hit the target.
“The thing always discussed when you think of firearms is, ‘how well can I shoot?’” Jackson said. “Our philosophy here at the Sheriff’s Office is that the mind-set, the gun-handling skills and the marksmanship all carry the same weight.”
Learning police department needs was imperative as Farrell began his new business. Without a background in gun manufacturing, he relied on feedback from customers.
“What we found is from a manufacturing point of view you really don’t need a whole lot of expertise in the field to do well,” Farrell said. “You really just need to figure out a way to get them to tell you their problems.”
Smart Firearm’s first big break was getting a contract with the New York Police Department. Farrell said the guns were so new, he worried they weren’t up for the task. But the NYPD loved the idea, and had plenty of suggestions to make it better.

The stories below are presented not to point out any individual officers or departments. The fact is we all know someone who has been involved in a negligent discharge. You will read of rookies and veteran SWAT Officers, military recruits and Special Forces. The circumstances are varied but the last crucial link in the chain of all these events was an unwanted trigger pull.


Police departments throughout the country are using a unique training tool that was invented by a Tempe man. He calls it the Smart Firearm. "It's extremely important that our weapons are molded exactly like the live weapons," Mike Farrell, president of Smart Firearms Training Devices, explained He created the training weapon, which looks and feels comparable to a real gun, for law enforcement after seeing a need for a better tool. "What we do is have a weapon with a sensor suite built into that trigger guard, so people are forced to keep their finger indexed along the side of the weapon until they're ready to discharge that weapon," Farrell said. Those sensors provide immediate feedback. If a cadet moves his or her finger off the frame of the gun and onto the trigger before he or she is ready to fire, an alarm sounds signaling that a correction is needed. The idea, Farrell says, is to build proper muscle memory. "So, when they transition to live weapons, they're basically good to go; they're a safe shooter at that time," said Farrell, himself a firearms instructor. The smart gun is a huge improvement over the other simulated guns that police academies have used or still use. Those guns are simply plastic molded into the shape of a firearm, but there are no trigger and no sound effects. In fact, in various training scenarios, when cadets want to simulate firing, they have to make their own sound effect, saying, "Bang, bang," something Farrell calls shocking. "This is real training, 21st century, happening at police departments all over America," he said. He firmly believes poor training tools contribute to accidental shootings by officers. "If we count just law enforcement, we're looking at two accidents a day, and a lot of it goes back to the plastic training weapons that are being used in most training institutions, civilian and law enforcement that don't do anything," Farrell said his company is looking to change that. Farrell's training guns, each of which has a movable trigger, removable magazine, warning sensor and laser, are being used by nearly 100 departments across the country and locally, too. Instructors at Chandler-Gilbert Community College's Law Enforcement Training Academy were among Farrell's first customers. "It's very nice having this tool," Lt. Mike Bellows, a class supervisor, said. Bellows, who in addition to teaching at the academy works at the Mesa Police Department, says not only does it reinforce proper training for cadets but it also helps instructors be more effective. "In a place where I can't get a good eye on what my recruit is doing, this gives me that immediate response on whether he's doing his job or not," Bellows explained. Smart Firearms is still a young company, but Farrell, who has been a volunteer law enforcement officer since 2005, says he and his team have already seen an impact at departments that use the smart gun. "I use Smart Firearm weapons in my concealed carry class," NRA instructor Julianna Crowder said in a testimonial on Smart Firearms' website. "I start every class by laying the training pistols and wait to hear the alarm go off. From there it is a great transition into a discussion on the importance of trigger finger discipline." That "'trigger finger discipline" is exactly what Farrell created the Smart Firearm to teach. "On our count, based on what we've tracked, we've probably averted over 600 accidental discharges everywhere in the country with law enforcement," he said. Smart Firearms also is constantly improving the gun, too. Farrell says that's due largely to feedback provided by top-notch department instructors. With their input, Smart Firearms is on its third generation of the training gun.


“We’re seeing people who are scared to call the police because they don’t know what type of officer we’re going to get,”“ she said. “Are they going to get somebody who is willing to be patient with them, to de-escalate or are they going to get somebody who is going to escalate the situation and somebody ends up dead?”
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As the body count rises – nearly 1,800 civilians fatally shot by police nationwide the past two years – a growing number of law enforcement agencies are retraining their officers to minimize their use of force. Police are being trained on how to de-escalate volatile situations and make smart use of their firearms. It’s part of a policy and cultural shift intended to avoid the Ferguson-type scenarios that have rocked city after city the past couple of years. “Police departments really need to embrace this and get in front of this,” said Paul O’Connell, a policing consultant and professor of criminal justice at Iona College. Buffalo, however, is lagging behind this shift in American policing, an analysis by Investigative Post has found.Likewise, community activists and police union leaders agree the Buffalo Police Department needs to provide officers more training. “Police officers out there are starving, starving for the training,” said Kevin Kennedy, president of the Police Benevolent Association. “They feel frustrated because their ability to do their job effectively is adversely affected by their lack of training.” Caitlin Blue, an activist with Just Resisting, a local group focusing on social justice issues, said better training is key to fixing broken community-police relations.

SAN ANTONIO — An officer has been placed on administrative leave after school officials say his gun discharged inside a north-side middle school on Wednesday morning. Northside ISD spokesperson Pascual Gonzalez said the officer was inside his office at Jordan Middle School when the gun accidentally fired around 8:45 a.m. The office door was closed, Gonzales said, and no students reported hearing the shot.  Immediately after the gun went off, district officials said the officer called his supervisor and the school principal to report the incident.  The bullet reportedly found lodged in a wall inside the office.  District officials said the officer was preparing to leave the building to go to the gun range to work on his re-certification.  The officer has worked at Jordan Middle School for five years and has been with the Northside ISD for a total of 16 years.

Old-School Red Guns / Blue Guns Are Failing Law Enforcement
Smart Firearms Training is the Modern Answer

Defensive Tactics Training – A revolutionary change in 40 years
It’s a scientific fact. We lose our ability to perform fine motor skills when our heart rate skyrockets. The recognition of this fact has driven a revolutionary change in defensive tactics training over the past 40 years. Police academies and in-service classes once taught martial arts and hard-to-replicate moves that, while they may have worked in the class or in the mat room, just didn’t hold up will when transferred to a real-world situation that might include a perpetrator who rudely refuses to cooperate, a suspect’s pit-bull attached to an officer’s leg, or a rush of adrenaline that results from the very real fear of getting hurt or killed.  Academies now provide officers with the tools they need to respond quickly in any situation – techniques that work in a variety of situations and are easily repeatable by the average officer who goes home to a family and not to a dojo.
We Haven’t Come Far Enough
These changes were dramatic, overdue, and have likely been life-saving. However, we just haven’t come far enough. We now know even more about how our bodies and minds respond under extreme stress and we owe our officers the tools and training that fully utilize this knowledge. However, if you walk into many training schools and police academies today, you will see the plastic inert blue / red guns that have been around for the past 40 years. They are designed to replicate the feel of an actual firearm – and they are the root cause of the majority of accidental discharges in law enforcement today.
Everything We’ve Been Taught Is Wrong
One of the basic rules of firearms handling is to keep your finger out the trigger guard until you acquire a target and decide to fire. With the old red guns / blue guns still used in many training classes today, and without the benefit of a one-to-one instructor/student ratio, there is no way to ensure that this rule is followed. And in fact, everything we have all been taught up until we enter the training room conditions us to keep our finger on the trigger – James Bond is doing it in every poster, Special Forces Operators are depicted as always ready to shoot. All of this deep cultural conditioning needs to be unlearned for the real world. But unlearning doesn’t come easily. The law of primacy dictates that what we learn first is what we retain best, and we revert to it in times of duress and high heart rate.
Unlearning Isn’t Easy
Most trainers agree that repetition is the only way to unlearn these behaviors. But it normally takes more “reps” to fix a bad behavior than a training course has time to administer. With a normal 15/1 student / instructor ratio, the task of identifying these behaviors during drills is nearly impossible and there is no time to correct them.
A Revolutionary Change In Firearms Training
Now, identifying – and correcting – this potentially deadly behavior can be done easily and quickly with Smart Firearms Training Devices. They emit warning sounds whenever a student’s finger sits in the trigger guard, allowing instructors to recognize this habit in a student. The student can also begin to self-correct and move forward with proper handling as their default function.
It’s what we are all taught to verbalize in class to indicate a discharge. But it verbalizes what should be an action. With the old red guns / blue guns, which don’t have a working trigger or a sound to indicate a shot, it’s the only option – the only way to let instructors and training partners know that a shop has been fired. Numerous police gun fights have been initiated with “BANG, BANG, BANG!” This is again due to the law of primacy. When we are under stress, we simply revert to what we learned first. Smart Firearms – Training Officers To Succeed.  No one trains enough. There are not enough hours in the day to cover everything which might, in a live scenario, be important. However, we can give our officers and trainers the most up-to-date and effective tools available to maximize the time they have in training. A training gun with a working trigger that discourages bad habits is crucial. The time has come for Smart Firearms.

Police Sergeant Charged After Gun Goes Off at Mall
Bullet blows hole in pants at pretzel stand

A Milwaukee police sergeant whose gun went off inside Southridge Mall in Greendale on Nov. 2 was charged Thursday with endangering safety by use of a dangerous weapon, a misdemeanor.  Michael A. Edwards, 45, has been on the force since 1986. He also is the president of the Milwaukee Police Supervisors’ Organization, the union that represents sergeants, lieutenants and captains, according to the organization’s website.  If convicted, Edwards faces a maximum possible penalty of nine months in jail and a fine of $10,000. According to a criminal complaint released Thursday, Edwards was in line at Auntie Anne’s pretzel shop when he reached into his back pocket for his wallet. As he did, his gun slid out of his waistband and down his pants. As he reached for the weapon, it went off, blowing a hole through his pants. The gun was not in a holster and did not have a safety, the complaint says.  A woman standing nearby heard a loud bang and felt a stinging sensation on her leg, where she suffered a welt, the complaint says. According to earlier reports, the bullet hit the marble floor and disintegrated. It was not clear from the complaint whether the bullet ricocheted off the floor and hit the woman’s leg, or whether she was hit by a piece of shrapnel. Chief Deputy District Attorney Kent Lovern did not respond to messages seeking clarification Thursday. Not guilty plea Edwards appeared Thursday afternoon in Milwaukee County Circuit Court, where he pleaded not guilty and was allowed to remain free on a $500 signature bond, according to online court records. His next court appearance is scheduled for Jan. 5. Edwards’ attorney, Michael Guerin, did not return a telephone call Thursday.  The .40-caliber Smith & Wesson was Edwards’ duty weapon, according to Anne E. Schwartz, department spokeswoman. Police officers are allowed to carry weapons off-duty.  Pending the outcome of the criminal case, Edwards will be on administrative duty with the Neighborhood Task Force, Schwartz said. While doing the desk job, he will retain his full police powers, which means he is still allowed to wear a badge, carry a gun and make arrests.  In a written statement, Milwaukee Police Chief Edward A. Flynn said: “I am disappointed the District Attorney has decided to use the overburdened criminal justice system to address a situation that is best and most appropriately handled as a training and disciplinary matter.” Edwards has not yet been disciplined in connection with the case, and there is no previous discipline listed on his personnel record. A misdemeanor charge or conviction does not preclude someone from serving as a police officer in Wisconsin. At least nine Milwaukee police officers have misdemeanor convictions on their records, according to a Journal Sentinel investigation published in October.  An officer loses the right to serve upon sentencing of a felony due to a federal law that prohibits felons from carrying guns.

New Haven Officers on Leave After Shots Fired
Internal Affairs is investigating the incident.

Three New Haven officers are on leave after shots fired, in public, while they are off duty. If this had happened to a private citizen, they’d lose their permit on the spot. This is why laws need to be changed to force officers to have a pistol permit in order to fulfill their duties. Loss of permit, loss of job – period. This could also end the issues with layoffs and union issues as they are not able to fulfill their job duties.  Long story short, three officers are having a night on the town. Shots are fired, 911 calls are made. New Haven PD Chief Esserman has said their weapons and badges have been turned in, and the officers are on administrative leave. There is a pending Internal Affairs investigation.

Canadian Forces Officer To Face Court Martial For Accidental Discharge in Kabul
ANDREW DUFFY of the Ottawa Citizen has the latest on this court martial:

A Canadian Forces lieutenant-colonel will face a court martial in Gatineau next month in connection with the accidental firing of a rifle at Kabul International Airport. Lt.-Col. Gilles Fortin is the second senior officer to be charged with mishandling a firearm while in Afghanistan.  In March 2010, then Brig.-Gen. Daniel Ménard accidentally fired his C8 assault rifle twice into the ground as he was about to board a Blackhawk helicopter at Kandahar Airfield with his boss, Gen. Walt Natynczyk, chief of the defense staff. Ménard was commander of Canadian troops in Afghanistan at the time of the incident, which occurred as he was loading his carbine.  Ménard  was fined $3,500 for the negligent handling of his weapon.  It was the largest fine ever imposed on a soldier for such an offense.  Lt.-Col. Fortin, a signals officer, was in Kabul last September as part of his work with NATO’s Joint Warfare Centre. A member of the centre’s joint training division, Fortin helped prepare incoming staff officers to take over jobs at ISAF headquarters in Kabul. Military prosecutors allege that on Sept. 1 last year, Fortin accidentally fired one round from his 9mm pistol at Kabul International Airport.  He is charged with one count of neglect to the prejudice of good order and discipline, an offense under the National Defense Act.  Andrea Cameron, a communications adviser with the Department of National Defense, said “this case reinforces the need for continued vigilance in the training of our soldiers and the importance of stressing safety and responsible weapons handling at all levels.” Every year, hundreds of Canadian soldiers are convicted of mishandling their weapons. Most of the incidents involve inexperienced soldiers, many of whom are charged because they pull the trigger on a gun range before a firing command is issued.  Between 2007 and 2009, the last years for which statistics are available, 918 Canadian soldiers faced summary trial for the negligent discharge of a firearm. Only a fraction of the cases — 29 in 2008-09 — involved gun incidents in operational theatres such as Afghanistan. Mishandled weapons can have deadly consequences. In March 2007, a Canadian reservist serving in Afghanistan, Cpl. Kevin Megeney, was shot dead by Cpl. Matthew Wilcox during a game of quick draw.  Wilcox, who had forgotten to unload his weapon, was found guilty at the conclusion of his court martial last year and sentenced to four years in prison. Cameron said weapons safety “is of paramount importance in the Canadian Forces and is stressed at all levels at all times.”  Lt.-Col. Fortin, former commander 2 Canadian Mechanized Brigade Group HQ and Signals Squadron in Petawawa, remains posted to NATO’s Joint Warfare Centre in Stavanger, Norway.  His court martial is scheduled for Feb. 28.

Quick-draw Practice Puts Bullet in Neighbor’s House

CENTRAL KITSAP — A Central Kitsap man accidentally fired a bullet into his neighbor’s Hickory Place home while practicing his quick-draw techniques Friday evening. The bullet nearly struck the head of a teenage girl in the neighboring home, according to Kitsap County Sheriff’s Office reports.  The neighbor called 911 just before 7 p.m. to report a possible drive-by shooting. The bullet struck the side of the house and went through two interior walls and a hollow door near where the girl was standing. The bullet continued to travel down a hallway before lodging in door jamb.  Based on the trajectory, deputies determined the bullet came from the neighbor’s house. An exit hole was found in the home’s siding.  The shooter initially denied he had fired a gun. Only after deputies showed him the bullet hole in his house did he admit to the shooting. He explained he had been practicing pulling his Springfield XD .40-caliber pistol from its belt holster. He left a loaded magazine in the gun for weight and balance but did not realize there was a live round in the chamber.  The man served in the military for 10 years and has extensive firearms training. He told deputies he often carries a concealed pistol. Deputies removed the pistol and a Glock pistol the man admitted he admitted he also owned.  A report was forward to the Prosecutor’s Office for possible charges.

SWAT Stumble Fatal
Grandfather’s kin reel as cops admit ‘accident’

A stumbling Framingham SWAT officer accidentally fired his rifle and shot a beloved grandpa to death as he lay face-down on the floor of his own home, authorities admitted yesterday, sparking incredulous outrage by the 68-year-old retiree’s family.  “Eurie Stamps’ death was the result of a fundamentally unjustifiable shooting by law enforcement officers who are charged with protecting public safety,” said Anthony Tarricone, a lawyer representing Stamps’ children. “When an innocent man dies this way at the hands of police, there really are no excuses that can satisfactorily explain the tragedy.

Bodega Worker Killed When Officer Fired By Accident

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) – A police officer’s gun “accidentally discharged,” killing a bodega worker who was fleeing a robbery in the Bronx, Police Commissioner Ray Kelly said Friday.  Store clerk Reynaldo Cuevas died earlier in the day after fleeing from Natalie Grocery at 169th Street and Franklin Avenue in the Morrisania section, Kelly said.

Transit Cop Holstering His Gun Accidentally Shoots Harlem Suspect in the Leg

The suspect, Richard Pearson, 47, was taken to Harlem Hospital and expected to survive.
Two transit cops went to collar Pearson after witnesses said he swiped $40 from a table outside Picante Mexican Bar & Lounge on Broadway near W. 140th St. about 11 p.m., police and witnesses said.  “Police, don’t move. Get down,” the officers told Pearson.  Pearson — who earlier allegedly tried to snatch a cell phone from a woman nearby — tossed the wad of stolen cash and dropped face-down on the sidewalk, cops said.  But Pearson then tucked his hands under his body as the officers tried to cuff him.  As one of the cops struggled with Pearson — who is homeless and has an extensive rap sheet that includes busts for assault and weapons possession — the second cop went to holster his service weapon to help, police said.  But the Sig Sauer 9-mm. pistol went off, firing one round into Pearson’s right calf, cops and witnesses said.  “It happened like an accident, he tried to put the gun back and bang — it went off,” one witness said.  “I thought my finger was off the trigger,” the cop allegedly said after the accidental discharge.  The 30-year-old cop, who has been with the NYPD for five years, then helped the wounded Pearson by tying a T-shirt around his bleeding leg.  “The officer was helping the guy that [was] shot,” said Danny Nunez, 38, who was standing nearby when the shooting happened. “He was putting a white shirt on his leg.”  Pearson was later charged with petit larceny and resisting arrest. He was also hit with criminal possession of a controlled substance after police found what they believe to be a crack pipe in his pocket.  The officer was placed on administrative duties as cops continue to investigate the incident.

Huntington Beach Officer Injured When Weapon Accidentally Discharges

HUNTINGTON BEACH (CBS) — A police officer is recovering from surgery Thursday after being shot in the leg when a fellow officer’s weapon accidentally discharged. “He’s already out of surgery and he’s resting and recuperating in the hospital with his family and friends,” Huntington Beach Police Captain Russell Reinhert said. The incident took place around 10 p.m. Wednesday when officers were cleaning their weapons at Huntington Beach Police Department headquarters following a SWAT training session.  “The firearm was pointed at the ground, but the round ricocheted off the floor and struck another officer in the leg,” Reinhert said.  SWAT paramedics from the fire department and a reserve doctor were there when the 20-year veteran was hit and. They were able to treat him before he was rushed to the hospital and underwent emergency surgery.“When one of our own is hit, obviously it’s a little bit different because police officers are experts in weapons.  But it goes to show that accidents can happen in any walk of life,” Jim Amormino of the Orange County Sheriff’s Department said.  Police say the officers are friends, and the 13-year veteran, whose gun accidentally discharged, will not be placed on leave and feels terrible about what happened.  Authorities are unsure how a bullet was still in the handgun while it was being cleaned.  “Whatever happened it’s part of the investigation that we’re looking into on how the firearm was discharged but no, when firearms are cleaned, they’re empty, there’s no rounds kept in them,” Reinhert said.  Both the Orange County Sheriff’s Department and the Huntington Beach Police Department are investigating the incident.

BGSU Chief of Police Reprimanded for Discharge

BOWLING GREEN, Ohio – The chief of BGSU campus police will receive a letter of reprimand after an accidental discharge of her firearm.  According to a university statement, Chief Monica Moll’s weapon discharged last Thursday while she was dismantling it for cleaning.  The process required her to pull the trigger, but she had mistakenly left a live round of ammunition in the gun.  It happened inside an off-campus location after a training session. Two officers were in the room at the time, but no one was injured.

Accidental Discharge Kills Ga. Probation Officer

ATLANTA — Probation Officer Tiffany Bishop was accidentally shot and killed at the Georgia Diagnostic and Classification Prison in Jackson, Georgia on Wed. during a training exercise.  A loaded weapon was accidentally discharged during a firearms training exercise, fatally wounding Bishop, according to ODMP. Bishop was transported to a nearby hospital, but died on on the way. Twenty-four-year-old Bishop had served with the Georgia Department of Corrections for six months.  The Georgia Bureau of Investigations is investigating why the instructor, who is reportedly a veteran, used a live firearm in the training session.  “He’s traumatized by the whole thing; it’s impacted him greatly,” said the GBI’s John Bankhead in an interview with MYFoxATLANTA.

Sherwood Police Officer Shot by Another Officer

SHERWOOD, AR – A Sherwood police officer is recovering from a gun shot wound after accidentally being shot by another officer during a domestic disturbance on New Year’s Day. Early Sunday morning Sherwood police responded to a home on West Shore Drive in the Austin Lakes on the Bay subdivision, first around 2 am, then returning about an hour later. Police say while one officer was trying to subdue a domestic disturbance his service weapon accidentally discharged hitting the other officer. Police say the officer’s injuries are not-life threatening.  Neighbors say they heard multiple shots at the house even before officers arrived. Hayley Ward lives next door to where the disturbance happened. “We love our cops in Sherwood, and we definitely feel safe, we just hate that this happened so close to our home.”

Milwaukee Police Chief Defends Officer in Accidental Discharge Case

MILWAUKEE, Wis. (WSAU) – Milwaukee Police Chief Ed Flynn is defending one of his sergeants who had his gun go off in Southridge Mall. Sergeant Michael Edwards is charged with putting the public at risk when he carried his gun in his waistband with the safety off. It went off last month, leaving a woman injured. Flynn says the sergeant has been forthcoming in explaining what happened. He says it was an accident and the situation should have been handled as a training and disciplinary matter.  Edwards has had no disciplinary incidents in his 25 year career. The chief objected to the filing of a misdemeanor charge.

Barnsdall Officers Injured by ‘Friendly Fire,’ Accidental Discharge

BARNSDALL, Okla. – Two Barnsdall officers injured during a friendly fire incident Monday evening in Barnsdall have been treated and released. According to officials, another officer’s gun accidentally discharged, sending shrapnel into the two officers.  Osage County Sheriff Ty Koch told 2NEWS the incident happened between 4:30 and 5 p.m. when Osage County deputies were assisting the officers in executing a search warrant on the 400 block of S. 4 th Street.  As an officer was putting his AR-15 into his vehicle, the weapon accidentally discharged, firing two rounds.  While the bullets struck no one, shrapnel from those bullets striking the vehicle lodged in one officer’s leg and in another officer’s abdomen and neck.  Both officers, one sent to St. John’s and the other, Jane Phillips Medical Center in Bartlesville, have been since released and “have no serious wounds.”  Koch told 2NEWS he does not know the status of the officer who was handling the gun, nor does he know why the weapon fired.  “We are conducting an investigation,” he said.  The Osage County Sheriff’s Office now has the rifle in its evidence room where it will be held until inspected by federal firearms experts.  The Barnsdall Police Department was not willing to give 2NEWS any statement at the time of this posting.

Army Tragedies Lead to Weapons Training Reform

WASHINGTON — Army Capt. James Shull died of a gunshot wound to his head as he was on a routine patrol in Baghdad on Nov. 17, 2003. The fatal wound came not from an Iraqi insurgent but from one of his own men, who, an Army investigation determined, had carelessly tossed his M-16 rifle into the back of his Humvee without activating the rifle’s safety switch. The gun went off, shooting Shull, who died instantly.  The account of his death was provided by Sandy Shull, his mother, who said she hopes that by speaking out she can help prevent future incidents.  Her son, 32, left a wife and three children.  “Can you imagine, killing someone like that?” Shull said during a telephone interview from her home in Kamiah, Idaho.  Shull said she wrote the soldier a letter of forgiveness and, through religious faith, is looking forward to the day she and her son are reunited in heaven.  “I don’t have any animosity toward the soldier who did it,” she said. “Of course, we wish he had been more careful.”  In the 18 months since Shull died, the Army has changed its training methods to cut down on such deadly incidents, known as “negligent discharges.” Enlisted recruits now go through new safety programs at all training bases, and new officers perform new weapons-handling drills. (Related story: Army revises weapons training)  Since 2002, as many as 16 U.S. troops have been killed in Iraq and Afghanistan by negligent discharges, including 11 Army soldiers, according to Pentagon statistics. An additional 121 in Iraq have been wounded. The Army began looking into ways to stress weapons safety four years ago when Lt. Gen. David Barno, then a training commander in South Carolina, recommended that recruits carry their weapons at all times.  Hampered by old rules  Cold War-era regulations stymied the initial efforts of Barno, who went on to command U.S. troops in Afghanistan. Soldiers had long been prohibited from keeping control of weapons for long periods of time. Concern that rifles would be either lost or stolen led the Army to keep them locked up. Those rules were eased about six months ago, and now Army recruits keep their weapons 24 hours a day in a program called “weapons immersion.”  Officials at Fort Jackson, S.C., Barno’s old base, said the new procedures seem to have made a difference with recruits. Col. Jay Chambers, who commands a training brigade, said there has only been one negligent rifle discharge in his brigade since he took command last summer.  Besides the emotional costs for the families of soldiers killed by accidental shootings, the accidents can also crush morale, said Col. Kevin Shwedo, a senior Army training official at Fort Monroe, Va.  While Shwedo was a young captain commanding armored troops in Germany in the early 1980s, a young soldier carrying an M-60 machine gun stumbled while running up a flight of stairs and inadvertently fired his weapon, instantly killing one of his buddies a few feet away. The incident devastated the entire unit, Shwedo said.  Driving the point home Now, the Army issues blanks with new recruits at boot camp as part of a new policy to drive home the consequences of sloppy habits. When recruits fire their weapons accidentally, even with blanks, they must write a letter home to the family of their “victim.”  Commanders in Iraq have taken steps as well.  David Martin, a safety manager for allied troops in Iraq, said U.S. forces conducted a “safety stand-down” in February to stress safe weapons handling. Martin said the most recent fatal accidental shooting in Iraq occurred about a month ago. Martin said he did not know whether the new emphasis has resulted in a drop in injuries or deaths.  Many of the incidents have occurred, Martin said, when new units arrive and face immediate stress from fighting a 24-hour-a-day insurgency.  Capt. Todd Lindner, who commands a Kentucky Army National Guard MP company, said his unit had two negligent weapons discharges shortly after deploying, with no injuries.  Fatigue has been a problem, Lindner said. His soldiers typically work 15- to 16-hour days

Navy SEAL Accidentally Shoots Self in Head

SAN DIEGO — A 22-year-old Navy SEAL was on life support Friday after he accidentally shot himself in the head while showing off a pistol to a woman he met at a bar, police said.
San Diego Police Officer Frank Cali told U-T San Diego officers were called to a home in Pacific Beach about 2 a.m. Thursday on a report that a man had shot himself in the head while playing with a gun.  Cali says the man was showing guns to a woman he’d met earlier at a bar and put a pistol he believed was unloaded to his head. Cali says he then pulled the trigger.  A Navy spokesman confirmed to U-T San Diego that the sailor had completed SEAL training last week and was assigned to a West Coast-based team. The Naval Criminal Investigative Service is investigating the shooting, a Navy spokesman told the San Diego newspaper.  Commodore Collin P. Green, commander of Naval Special Warfare Group One, released a statement saying, “On behalf of the entire Naval Special Warfare community, we are deeply saddened by this unfortunate incident and extend both our hearts and prayers to our teammate’s family during this very difficult time.”  This post includes reporting from staff and The Associated Press.