Pakistan News

225 cops to be trained as ‘sharpshooters’

225 cops to be trained as ‘sharpshooters’

LAHORE: A group of 225 constables has been initially selected from the operations wing of Lahore police for training in shooting and other professional skills to improve their firearm proficiency with a view to equip the force with “sharpshooters”.

Some 15 certified instructors from Elite police have been hired to train these policemen. They will also impart special skills to the constables to help improve their concentration, patience, discipline and confidence, besides training them in gun handling, so that they could quickly and effectively respond in case of any terrorist attack.

For the purpose, a Fire Practice Range has been upgraded at the District Police Lines, Qilla Gujjar Singh, declaring the shooting practice mandatory for all the front line police officials even if they had completed their departmental courses.

A senior police official told Dawn on Thursday that the need to improve the professional skills of police officials was felt, particularly in firearm specialty, following some recent major terror attacks in which the law enforcement agencies personnel were the prime target.

Seeking anonymity, the official said the Lahore police high-ups later realised that some of the terrorist attacks could have been averted through timely response by the armed policemen but unfortunately many of them lacked confidence and shooting skills.

In this regard, he cited terrorist attack on District Police Lines, Qial Gujjar Singh, on Feb 17 where a sufficient number of policemen were stationed and all were fully equipped with the weapons. During the attack, the policemen on guard duty did try to retaliate but some of them missed their targets due to poor shooting skills.

He said such lack of professional training had also been reported during various police encounters, raids, ambushes and chase of criminals. In many cases bullets stuck in the barrels of guns when the police tried to shoot outlaws or fire shots, and on some other occasions they faced issues while reloading their weapons, he added.

The official said such issues prompted the police high-ups to focus on improving firing skills of police.

He said the first batch comprising 225 constables belonged to the police commando force and after that the scope of the firing drill would be extended to personnel of Quick Response Force and those deployed at sensitive installations and for VIP duties. The training would be introduced at the police station level later, he added.

He said though all policemen were given compulsory shooting training at the time of their induction in the force, it was learnt that in later stages of field posting many of them did not fired even a single bullet.

Headquarters SP Umar Saeed said the firearm proficiency had been one of the critical components of the police training. He stressed the need for improving police skills given the challenges like increasing crime, public order problems and terrorism etc.

He said to overcome the shooting flaws in police it was decided to upgrade the existing Fire Practice Range facility in accordance with international standards, declaring the firearm training almost “mandatory” for all the operations staff.

He said the constables would be trained in using all official firearms, including sub-machine guns (SMGs), rifles, 9MM and Beretta pistols at the upgraded facility complete with noise cancelling headphones and ear plugs.

Sufficient arrangements had also been made at the Fire Practice Range for the cleaning of the weapons, he concluded.

Published in Dawn, May 8th, 2015

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