Murphy Police Department Utilizes Multi-Faceted Training Program
Murphy Sergeant David Rodgers is one of the firearms instructors at Murphy Police Department. He has been a police officer for 27 years and with Murphy for six years. He explained the multi-faceted nature of MPD’s training programs.
There are currently 25 officers at MPD including Chief Cotten, Lt. Barber, detectives, student resource officers and court bailiff. Each of these officers attend yearly firearms training. Throughout the year, there are open range days as well as opportunities to attend nearby agencies’ training events. Rodgers explained that yearly firearms training includes officers running through scenarios and demonstrating which gear they should bring from their vehicle to the scene. Additionally, they practice minute details such as proper running methods while pursuing suspects, moving and shooting, wearing tactical vests and distribution of finger pressure when holding a gun. Open range days are similar to the yearly firearms training events, except on a smaller scale which gives officers additional opportunities to prepare via repetition. Rodgers said, “How you train is how you play. If you don’t train, you’re just winging it.” Firearms training and open range are held at Princeton Police Department’s gun range.
Firearms training is only one element of MPD’s well-rounded training program. They attend classes covering the following topics: mental health, de-escalation, self-defense, driving, warrant service, legal update, drugs, leadership, ethics and others. They have also attended active shooter training where they use simunition guns. Rodgers said that many of these classes are attended by members of neighboring agencies which allows them to strengthen communications between these agencies and it provides the benefit that different agencies, when working together, will respond in the same way. MPD has officers who are certified to teach some of these classes. They also incorporate Vincible, a Texas Police Chief’s Association program, which “…will focus on Officer Safety in the State of Texas, working to reduce line of duty deaths and injuries.” (texaspolicechiefs.org) Rodgers said the department reviews call video footage and discusses how they would have reacted if they responded to that call. He said, “Always put yourself in their shoes. This is how you prepare mentally and physically. Make a plan for different situations. The better prepared you are, the better you will be able to respond.”
Within a year after the shooting of Dallas officers in 2016, MPD purchased shields. Currently, each shift supervisor has a shield in their vehicle at all times. Rodgers said the goal is to have one in every MPD vehicle. All MPD officers have been trained on how to hold the shield and how to shoot and load their weapon while holding the shield. Rodgers reports that he has used the shield numerous times on calls when approaching houses and cars.
Rodgers said their biggest line of defense is their police presence. They are required to carry two weapons at all times. When on duty, they wear a bulletproof vest and bring patrol tactical vests with them. They have a hand gun, less-lethal gun, Taser and pepper spray. They have a ‘go-bag’ which contains some tools, flex cuffs, extra gun magazines, a tourniquet and basic medical supplies. (The ‘go-bag’ can be slung over the officers’ shoulder in hands-free fashion.) They have contact information for mental health and grievance counselors. They also have access to other officers.
In the past year, during calls responded to by MPD, no guns have been fired, a Taser and pepper spray was each used once. Bi-monthly, all vehicles are inspected to ensure all are stocked with the right equipment and in working order.
Rodgers explained why ongoing police training is important, “When you practice certain things, muscle memory becomes a reality.” He points out that society has changed in the last 10, 20, and 30 years. He said, “Training helps you open your mind to new situations and to how society is now.”