Note: the uniform for NCDOC has changed
This is not an attempt to speak negatively about the North Carolina Department of Corrections. But let's face it: Firearm training for the North Carolina Corrections Officer is absolute garbage - and many Correctional Officers and Administrators know it (which makes them co-conspirators). So the question is "Why do they continue to let their Officers perpetually backslide into oblivion?" I honestly don’t know as it beyond me. But when it comes to firearm training NCDOC is so garbage in fact, that I can bet 10 to 1 that an Inmate Transport Van can be hijacked by a minimally trained bad guy.
Many people will disagree with me on this but I have often made the prediction to people that it’s only a matter of time before an Inmate Transport Van will be hijacked. There have been times when Correctional Officers have actually lost Inmates for whatever at the hospitals here in North Carolina (imagine that).
I can say the firearm training of NCDOC is garbage is because not only was I there to empirically observe this fact. It’s also because I can also say without a shadow of doubt that the training is seriously outdated; by at least 30 years. Going back in my mind I can recall when I took the firearm qualification course (2014) and qualified with a Smith & Wesson M&P .40 pistol with a magazine drop safety – which for all intensive purposes are a God damned abomination.
But even more than that I was seriously astounded by how far out of the loop the instructors were when it came down to teaching firearms. Not to say that they were bad people and unread, but they would in fact be what a VODA Client calls "textbook robots". During the block of firearm instruction, I noticed when the instructors were asked various questions by Officers, especially questions being asked by the female Correctional Officers within the class; their reply was always "let's stick to the script".
The lesson plan for the NCDOC Correctional Officer in reguards to firearm training consist of the following:
"LESSON PLAN # HOURS LAST UPDATED 116 26 6/1/2006 FIREARMS Firearms safety procedures in handling and using firearms during training and when on duty. The purpose, characteristics, capabilities, and limitations of the three (3) standard weapons including handgun, rifle, and shotgun are discussed and demonstrated. Trainees fire formalized courses of fire for all three (3) standard weapons in light and low/limited light situation. In addition, some chemical agents and chemical weapons are presented."
Although this direct quote from the NCDOC training syllabus is vague, I can however, guarantee you that the vagueness present here is a direct reflection of the firearm training given to the Correctional Officers wihin North Carolina department of Corrections.
Smith & Wesson M&P
The block of instruction for firearm training was approached not from what I do at VODA Inc. which is teaching from an Applied Gun-Fighting Method and Application, but rather it was only approached from a stand point of Marksmanship and safety (hell you can Google that). It was then and still being my professional position that the mechanics of pistol deployment were not taught extensively enough for North Carolina Correctional Officers. It should also be understood that the deployment of the pistol was taught from a basic "safety" stand point.
And to be honest with you, I actually really feel bad for them because these Correctional Officers are out on the street performing their transport duties and possibly conceal carrying on their off time and they really don’t know how to effectively and efficiently operate the firearm in their possession. This potentially (more likely than not) makes the NC Department of Corrections Officer a high-risk liability when it comes to effectively operating a firearm.
For those that want to know what my score was on the range; it was 97% out of 100% (not bragging because I'm actually not proud of that because I was not challenged). SIDE NOTE: I must say I found it strange that the Adminstrator
Mr. Dunkin (Office of Staff Development and Training Administrator) exclusively stood over me for the entire shoot and personally scored my target way before I was known in the capacity that I am.
But even though I Scored a 97% and not 100% because they [NCDOC] would not count the head-shots I took instead of counting them as "two points" which were due in part to the three times we had to perform mandatory combat reloads during the qualification process. I still managed to piss people off without saying a word. It was during this time and only this time in which the firearm training actually "felt real". Furthermore, it is also my assessment that the Correctional Officers that generally perform Inmate Transports Duties (mostly hospital visits) ARE NOT ADEQUATELY TRAINED ON THE FIREARMS THAT THEY CARRY TO DEFEND AGAINST ANY CREDITABLE THREAT.
Now as you well know I'm not about complaining rather I’m always about seeking to provide Solutions - I'm a Consultant, and providing Applications and Solutions is what I do. In order to fix the issues that the Correctional Officers face in North Carolina I would recommend the following Corrective Actions:
Getting rid of all the old Administrators over the firearm instructional program
Getting rid of the "Good Old Boys Club"
Getting rid of the current block of firearm instructors
Possible implementing actual Police firearm training (attending BLET period)
If not the implementation of Police firearm training (as they are not always a good source either) at least be open to seeking consultation for the implementation of another shooting standard from either myself (VODA) or another external source
Require firearm qualification twice a year
Make firearm training as real as possible
These are just some of the recommendations I would suggest when it comes to training for the Correctional Officer. It should also be noted that the firearm training should be made more challenging and require not only mental and physical strength, but skill, cognitive development and ability.
Now I cannot speak on what the S.O.R.T. Team does because I have had limited interaction with them, but I have a hunch that this perspective may roll over to some of their members as well. It should also be stated that this doesn't mean all Correctional Officers are shitty Shooters but, I have to say that most of the ones I have seen actually are.
The good news is that many Correctional Officers are seeking outside help (from myself and others). So, this lets me know that there is a light at the end of the tunnel! For those that are seeking outside help they are doing so because they either know and or feel that they are getting shitty training when it comes to firearms; especially when its time for qualification time.
But there is also another side to the coin. It was once said to me by a Correctional Officer that had some years on me:
"You don't want to shoot too good."
Taken back by his words I was compelled to ask "Why?" He stated:
"Because they look at you as being either too aggressive, or they see you as wanting to kill someone".
A Correctional Sergeant also once said to me:
"We don't carry guns like that so we don't need all that training."
Another interesting thing happened while I was on the range. An Administrator once told me:
"It's obvious that you know way too much, I need you to pretend you have a G.E.D.."
And although she was a very nice and respectable woman I couldn't help but think in my mind: "What the fuck?" Whatever happened to "Do the best that you can?" It was these two statements that were made that revealed three things to me in regards to NCDOC:
North Carolina Department of Corrections promotes mediocrity
North Carolina Department of Corrections doesn't encourage the Correctional Officer to be the best that they can be
When there is an Correctional Officer that has a strong desire to achieve more he or she is seen as a "problem" and is often times ridiculed, alienated, stigmatized or subjected to be sent to either Master Control or Central Control "fishbowl" as a form of indirect retaliation.
Here's the thing, YES, I have learned and experienced a lot but it doesn't make me want to "kill" anybody, I will however, definitely shoot to stop someone if warranted. In addition, even though Correctional Officers here in North Carolina “don’t carry guns like that” which is ass backwards if you ask me considering the fact that Correctional Officers are considered Law-Enforcement here in North Carolina. When it comes to carrying a firearm, I professionally always have, currently do and will always carry a firearm. Lastly, I have spent over $90,000 to obtain multiple College Degrees, it is just way too insulting for me to pretend to only have a motherfucking G.E.D.
But even more than them [NCDOC] needing to consider scrapping the current firearm training and replacing it something new. I would recommend first and foremost assessing the mental state of the Correctional Officers on hand. Remember, it does not matter how well you shoot (or in this case the lack thereof); if the attitude of the Correctional Officer is not corrected then NC DOC will continue to have the perpetuation of issues pertaining the substandard Shooters that it faces within the current ranks of Correctional Officers that they currently have.
Note: Updated NCDOC uniform (if most only showed up to work actually looking like this)