Former cop says training is key to averting some police-involved shootings

(WTNH)–Vincent Riccio is a former sergeant with New Haven Police, and he’s now certified by the state to train private security officers. The recent video released showing a Chicago police officer open fire on Laquan McDonald, 17, made Riccio question that department’s training.

“I don’t believe officers are aware how many bullets they’re actually discharging under the stress they’re under,” Riccio said.

Riccio joined the force when cops still carried six-shooter revolvers and they needed to be cautious about how many bullets they fired during an incident. In contrast, McDonald was hit by sixteen shots, all from the same gun, many of those coming after he falls to the ground.

“We were trained to fire twice and re-evaluate,” Riccio said. “I think that’s gotten forgotten in day and age of semi-automatic weapons, where instead of saying fire twice and re-evaluate, it’s fire until threat is over.”

During one wild night in 1991, Riccio was shot at by one suspect and stabbed by a different suspect, in two separate incidents. He wasn’t seriously hurt, but in both cases he decided not to fire his weapon. Riccio said the knife blade broke off in his bullet-proof vest. He credits good training for his restraint.

“It’s an awesome responsibility for officer discharging his weapon,” Riccio said. “So many decisions go into that, that it needs to be instinctively, rather than making a decision at the time.”

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