Three shooting sessions per year: police training, enriched but still “insufficient”


    “You have just been called by panicked passers-by: an armed individual has been reported in a vehicle in a parking lot”, launches Grégory, police trainer in techniques and security in intervention (FTSI), starting a video.

    On the film: the car, where we guess a silhouette. Very quickly, an armed man opens the door and points his weapon in the direction of the police. “Get out!” shouts Cyril, standing facing the screen, noise-canceling headphones over his ears and goggles over his eyes.

    “Tock! Tock! Tock!” At his side, Laure (first name changed) a lieutenant, has just fired, after warnings, three cartridges with her service weapon. Cyril two, all in less than five seconds.

    Once the video is over, the trainer does not focus on recording the impacts. The purpose of the session: to work on the “discernment” of the police officer, to evaluate the situations in which to shoot or not, or even the coordination between team members, aspects that have been increasingly worked on in recent years.

    “In what legal framework do you find yourself?”, continues Grégory, the trainer.

    “Self-defense,” replies Cyril. “Article 435-1 of the CSI (internal security code, editor’s note)”, specifies Laure. The two officers have been questioned about the content of the text governing their use of weapons since 2017. It stipulates that the police can only shoot “in case of absolute necessity” and “in a manner strictly proportionate” to the threat.

    Here, “their physical integrity was in danger, so the use of the weapon was justified”, explains the trainer. But impossible to give the police a list of situations in which to shoot or not. “We give the main general principles of security and, from there, the police officer makes his operational choice”, explains Commander Ludovic Delenclos, deputy head of the training department of the national police.

    – “A few seconds” –

    He refuses to comment on the recent cases of roadside checks, which have put this question back in the debate, while four people were killed by police fire: one in the 18th arrondissement last weekend, two on the Pont-neuf in Paris in May, another in March in Seine-Saint-Denis.

    “The police officer only has a few seconds to analyze a situation which puts him in a possibly mortal danger”, he observes, specifying that “it will be up to justice to say whether to shoot or not”.

    Today, after being trained in the use of handguns in a police school, each police officer must perform three shooting sessions a year, with 90 cartridges fired in total. These sessions are part of the 12 hours – increased to 15 since the beginning of 2022, according to Commander Delenclos – of continuous training in “techniques and safety in intervention”.

    “Insufficient”, judges the trade unionist of Unite-SGP, Linda Kebbab. “No one can claim to be a good shooter with three shooting sessions a year”.

    The latest official figures communicated in 2017 reported 51% of police officers who had not benefited from the three regulatory sessions, according to a report by the Court of Auditors.

    – “Less fear” –

    However, “a better trained policeman is less afraid on the public highway” and can better ensure his safety and that of citizens, explains to AFP Thierry Collas, trainer at the Nîmes police school and UNSA zonal delegate.

    He notes, however, that “the situation has evolved a little” since 2017 and that “the civil servants, in their vast majority, are doing their three shooting sessions”.

    But, he adds, the hierarchy does not always manage to free them up enough time for the “ethical reminders, self-defense” section or the other “exercises in intervention techniques”. “The operational takes precedence over all that”.

    “We have a problem recruiting police trainers”, also underlines Yvan Assioma, of Alliance. The union is demanding a bonus for these agents “who eat lead and gas all day” and whose work rates have increased with the authorizations to pass to police officers equipped with heavy weapons since the attacks of 2015.