Sarasota police officers worry about lack of training - WFLA News Channel 8

Sarasota police officers worry about lack of training

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SARASOTA COUNTY, FL (WFLA) -

A recent report finds many officers inside the Sarasota Police Department are concerned about the lack of firearms training. 

The city conducted an assessment report of the police force and found that officers felt more could be done to train them for dangerous scenarios.

They're called first responders for a reason. Police officers have to be ready at a moment's notice to dive head first into danger.

But a recent report found Sarasota police officers were not trained as well as they would've liked.

For years, officers were put through firearms training eight hours a month. But the department says a couple of years ago, budgets became tight, and the training was stopped. Instead, the officers were simply allowed to meet minimum state requirements for handling firearms.

Former Sarasota police Chief John Lewis said, "I believe they kept hoping that the budget would improve."

Lewis filed the report last month.

He said, "I don't think it put a risk to public safety. What it did is sometimes give the appearance that the officers aren't being trained as well as they should."

Police spokesman Captain Paul Sutton said the department was left with little choice.

Sutton said, "That was never something that we wanted to do, that was something we had to do in order to save money."

Sutton says even though the department cut back on training hours, the officers here were still well above the standards required by the state.

Sutton said, "FDLE requires that an officer qualify with their weapon once every two years, we continue to have our officers qualify every year."

Sutton says officers were never ill prepared for dangerous scenarios.

The official said police sergeants and other department heads would make sure younger officers knew how to handle those cases.

But things are looking up. Since the report, officers have gone through eight hours of intense training, and plans are in place to make sure officers stay prepared at all times.

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