Minnesota-based Law Enforcement Training Inc., a company with close ties to the Department of Homeland Security and numerous other law enforcement agencies has created a lot of questions with its new line of life-size practice targets.
The provider of “realistic” shooting targets that has received over 5 million dollars in contracts from the Department of Homeland Security in the past has now introduced a new line of what it labels “non-traditional threat” targets. These include pregnant women, mothers in playgrounds and elderly American gun owners.
When contacted by reporters and concerned citizens, the company reacted by claiming such unusual targets are used to help override “hesitation on the part of cops when deadly force is required on subjects with atypical age, frailty or condition,” and to “break that stereotype on the range, regardless of how slim the chances are of encountering a real life scenario that involves a child, pregnant woman, etc.”
The products in the new line of training targets are labeled “No More Hesitation” targets. When Mike Riggs of Reason.com questioned the company about the new line, a spokesman responded:
The subjects in NMH targets were chosen in order to give officers the experience of dealing with deadly force shooting scenarios with subjects that are not the norm during training. I found while speaking with officers and trainers in the law enforcement community that there is a hesitation on the part of cops when deadly force is required on subjects with atypical age, frailty or condition (one officer explaining that he enlarged photos of his own kids to use as targets so that he would not be caught off guard with such a drastically new experience while on duty). This hesitation time may be only seconds but that is not acceptable when officers are losing their lives in these same situations. The goal of NMH is to break that stereotype on the range, regardless of how slim the chances are of encountering a real life scenario that involves a child, pregnant woman, etc. If that initial hesitation time can be cut down due to range experience, the officer and community are better served.
The series contains seven targets, titled Pregnant Woman, Older Man 1, Older Man 2, Older Woman, Young Mother, Young Girl, and Little Brother. Each of the depicted subjects is armed. All of the targets represent Caucasians.
Retired Houston police officer T.F. Stern said:
There’s something wrong, seriously wrong here. If we start to desensitize law enforcement officers, have them disregard humanity, to feel nothing’s wrong in shooting a pregnant lady or an old man with a shotgun inside his own home…then what kind of society have we become? How will police officers react after they no longer believe they are part of the society which they have been charged with policing, when they have become used to shooting pregnant ladies and old men?
The fact that these targets are being used as preparation for civil unrest by Homeland Security as well as other federal agencies should raise concern.
As with the TSA and its well-documented frisking of the disabled and elderly at our nation’s airports, such training focuses on what has never been a threat and leads law enforcement to focus in all the wrong places.
This misplaced focus dove tails with a study conducted last year by DHS that characterized Americans who are “suspicious of centralized federal authority,” and “reverent of individual liberty” as “extreme right-wing” terrorists. The report, Hot Spots of Terrorism and Other Crimes in the United States was produced by the National Consortium for the Study of Terrorism and Responses to Terrorism, which got its start with a $12 million grant from, where else, DHS.
Among others, the report described possible new terrorists as:
- Americans who believe their “way of life” is under attack;
- Americans who are “fiercely nationalistic (as opposed to universal and international in orientation)”;
- People who consider themselves “anti-global” (presumably those who are wary of the loss of American sovereignty);
- Americans who are “suspicious of centralized federal authority”;
- Americans who are “reverent of individual liberty”;
- People who “believe in conspiracy theories that involve grave threat to national sovereignty and/or personal liberty.”
No wonder a growing tide of voices are questioning this latest addition to DHS’ training agenda.