An Omaha police officer is the recipient of an international award for his training skills. Officer Dave Staskiewicz was recognized Thursday as the 2012 "Range Master of the Year."
The award is given out by Action Target, a world leader in shooting range technology and facilities. Staskiewicz received the honor for his training for more than two-dozen local and federal agencies at the city's Safety Training Center near 116th and Rainwood Road.
It's the last thing a peace officer wants to do, discharge his firearm. "Society's changing and we want them to be able to react if that situation ever occurs," Staskiewicz said. "Officers have to pull their weapons out unfortunately on a regular basis." And occasionally use that weapon.
Staskiewicz trains Omaha police officers for the rare occasion where an officer will have to use deadly force. He says officers find themselves facing the unknown in countless situations. It's his job to make sure those officers stay safe.
"Our biggest weapon is our mouth. If we can de-escalate something that's awesome, but unfortunately in our society not everybody has that intent and they're not going to listen to that and sometimes you're going to have to use force."
Staskiewicz says shooting is a perishable skill and regular training is necessary. So he puts officers in real world situations.
One session places officers in the dark with just a flashlight and lights from a cruiser. Suddenly, a suspect turns and shows a gun. Staskiewicz says officers experience physiological changes in heightened situations. "We try to do drills to get their heart rate up and see how they are going to react and shoot with their heart rate up."
Staskiewicz says there's an 18 to 20 percent hit ratio so officers are trained to shoot for the upper torso. The goal in that split-second is to end a situation.
"We always get asked well, why didn't you just shoot the gun out of their hand? And if a person can hit the human body 18-20 percent of the time, how are you going to hit an arm? The math doesn't add up."
He said gun training is done with one goal in mind, keeping everyone safe. Officer Staskiewicz said situational training has changed over the years. Officers used to train for domestic violence calls being the most potentially volatile. He says these days, every situation is potentially fatal.