Sunday, February 8, 2009

desensitization training?

"don't shoot!"

Hot Fuzz is "like this" (imagine me crossing my fingers) with the sniper team leader for the metro SWAT team. Occasionally, members of this team travel outside the state to go shoot prairie dogs for the purpose of desensitization. They invited him to come along the next time they go. When he told me about this, I unexpectedly felt sick to my stomach.

I'm by no means an animal right's activist, but I do believe in not killing animals unless you need to (i.e. food, protection, etc.). Does the sniper team really need to practice this technique as a training mechanism? If you are training to shoot the bad guy, and you've practiced the scenarios over and over again, wouldn't you be able to do that when you are in a real situation? I wouldn't think that you need to kill prairie dogs to see. Hot Fuzz said that he didn't think it was necessary, but supposedly if you can become desensitized to killing small animals, then you'll be able to shoot a person. If it's an effective way to help law enforcement, then that's fine. Shoot prairie dogs I guess. But I just want to know if it really is all that necessary. It seems so wasteful.

When I was a teenager, there was a knock at our door one day. I opened it and it was an officer saying that they had reports of a lot of dead birds in the area and wanted to know if we knew anything about that. I replied that I hadn't seen any birds or heard of it and that was that. When I shut the door, I heard my brother (who is now a cop in California) and his friend whooping and hollering in the backyard. I go out there and they are shooting birds with their bb guns. I wanted to vomit seeing all the poor birds scattered around the yard. So they were the neighborhood terrorists going around shooting birds and I'm pretty sure that our neighbors mentioned that it was probably "the boys that live over there" when calling to complain. They were always up to stuff like that.

Maybe I'm just overly sensitive, but I wonder what others think about this. Necessary training technique? Unnecessary? What are other options to becoming desensitized? Do you need to be desensitized? Aren't training scenarios enough?


Dori said...

So I read the first paragraph out loud to the cop husband and he's all, "WTH?!" Never heard of anything like that. Desensitization? That's how psychopaths do it. No. It's not an effective way to help law enforcement. That's not training. SWAT teams, EOD and the like train and train and train. That's how they come back home not dead. Hunting wildlife has nothing to do with it.

If they want to go shot prairie dogs, then fine. But don't call it "training". So, ahem (blushing), my opinion tends to come out sometimes. Sorry.

mrs. fuzz said...

aha, so then other places don't do this?! Now I'm weirded out. Maybe it's something like a redneck tradition for these guys?! Maybe an excuse to go on a little mancation and call it training? I'm going to do some more probing.

Anonymous said...

I'd say there are as many ways to look at training as there are agencies. Ok, maybe not that many, but you get the idea. That having been said, I've never heard of this before. Maybe it is just a little man bonding time. If so, is that so bad? I don't know about desensitization but they will be shooting at moving targets so that will be good practice.

I'm a total animal lover and get sick to my stomach thinking of that senseless killing too. But I also don't necessarily agree that the activity is comparable to "psycopaths", no offense Dori. If this is something he wants to do, I think he should be able to do it. It's not your cup of tea, but neither is being a cop.

Slamdunk said...

That is a new one on me as well. Not something I would be interested in, but I would be more concerned if they invited him to go snipe hunting...

mrs. fuzz said...

Ha Ha Slamdunk. I remember snipe hunting when I was little. I didn't figure it out until I was about 10 years old that it wasn't real.

Dori said...

Just to clarify...I wasn't calling HF's friends psychopaths. :D Just that the one similarity of the Jeffery Dalhmers of the world was that they started out torturing and killing small animals as children--desensitizing themselves--and then moved on up to people.

Target shooting, male bonding--totally different. But calling it "desensitizing" is really creepy.

I think when a cop is desensitized--it's time for him to hand in his gun and go find another job.

mrs. fuzz said...

I agree with you Dori. I told HF the same thing. That all the crazy killers on death row always say that they started by killing animals.

I don't think that a cop, even a sniper, should ever become desensitized to killing a person even when they have to.

Also to clarify, turns out this is a little male bonding trip. Whether they shoot at prairie dogs or not I'm not clear. But they go out to the middle of nowhere in a desert with their guns. And they do call this trip "desensitization training". At least that's what they've been telling him. Maybe their pulling his leg, because it does seem odd.

I'll just shrug my shoulders at it and let HF feel it out. He's a smart guy.

MeadowLark said...

Glad for the clarification. Husband had the same reaction as Dori's. WTF?

Oh, and people really do hunt snipe. (I produce an outdoor radio show. I'm dead serious. They do.)

Berserk said...

The "training" sounds like some redneck sh*t to me... entertaining, but not all that relevant to what we actually do. It is funny to think of a SWAT team in the middle of the desert with their guns. Just as long as they wait until afterwords to break out the beer... :)

As far as desensitization goes, it's a good thing. That's one reason that LEOs shoot at pictures of people during firearms training instead of at a series of concentric circles. It's probably also one of the advantages of FATS and simunition training- it gets us subconsciously used to the idea of pointing a gun at *somebody* when we pull the trigger.

One of my academy instructors was a former homicide detective who made it his personal mission to desensitize the entire class to violence and gore by repeated exposure to images from cases that he had worked.

Lisa E said...

My hub's desensitization involved lots of patrol car dash-mounted camera videos of stops that went very wrong.

But shooting animals? Never.