Two of four people to recently earn the new master firearms instructor certification from the Washington State Criminal Justice Training Commission work in the Spokane County Sheriff’s Office.
Sheriff Ozzie Knezovich said having master instructors helps save money and ensures that every police agency in the state follows the same standardized training.
“We no longer have haphazard training,” Knezovich said. “It’s a huge issue that has far-reaching liability implications if you don’t have certified training.”
Questions about firearms training are always asked in officer-involved shooting investigations, Knezovich said. “It’s vital. It’s one of the most critical areas that we deal with.”
Deputies Dan Knight and Brian Moen have spent nearly four years working on their certification. Not only did they have to take classes in every level for each type of weapon – handgun, shotgun, rifle and scoped rifle – they then had to teach each of those classes. “It takes a bit of time,” Knight said.
Knight spent a morning last week running a group of deputies through their quarterly firearms training in the pouring rain at the Spokane Police Academy gun range.
“Considering that we work in all weather, we train in all weather,” he said.
Having every department in the state working off the same curriculum, which Knight and Moen helped develop, is important, Knight said. “Won’t it be convenient that Lincoln County is saying the same thing I am, that Adams County is saying the same thing?” he said.
Having two master firearms instructors will benefit the area the same way the department’s training center at the old University City Mall does, Knezovich said. It saves the county money because deputies no longer have to travel to the West Side for the weeklong classes, and it will attract officers from other departments to Spokane for the training.
“It has a definite economic impact for us to be able to train the region,” Knezovich said.
Liberty Lake police Chief Brian Asmus said he will be glad to see the state have standardized firearm training. Three members of his department are already certified instructors through the state Criminal Justice Training Commission.
Asmus likes the idea of standardized training so much that he wants to have one of his officers earn the master instructor certification. Having master instructors next door may make that easier. “We’ll have them teach our firearms instructors,” he said.