Boise Police Department
News Release

Michael F. Masterson
Chief of Police


Contact: Lynn Hightower
Communications Director
570-6180

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Chief's Comments: Testimony re: SB 1254

Testimony prepared by Chief Masterson reference Senate Bill 1254.

 

Thank you Chairman McKenzie and members of the State Senate Affairs Committee for the opportunity to testify today.

My Name is Mike Masterson.  I am Chief of Police of the Boise Police Dept., a position I’ve held since Jan. 2, 2005.  I have been a police officer for 37 years.

I believe the proposed legislation found in SB 1254  is well intended but creates many unintended consequences.  I’m here to oppose this legislation and am joined by virtually all police chiefs across the state policing  Idaho’s college campuses as well as presenting a letter from Chief Dan Hall, President of the Idaho Chiefs of Police Association opposing this bill.

I believe our current policy which allows each university president the authority to determine safety measures on their respective campuses is the best practice.  At Boise State, current law enforcement officers, on and off duty, in uniform or dressed in plain clothes, as well as qualified retired law enforcement are permitted to carry a concealed weapon.  These folks have received hundreds of hours of training throughout their careers which makes them uniquely qualified to handle the unlikely event of a crime being committed in their presence.

My objection in expanding CCW to those who have an enhanced training is based on the insufficient training and preparation they receive to carry in these environments.  The enhanced CCW covers 8 hours of training.  It covers the very basics in classroom instruction and in firearms qualification.  98 rounds of punching holes in paper is a far cry from the countless hours of training we teach our police officers.  We prepare our officers for crisis situations, physiological, psychological and mechanical, teaching them how the heart rate increases, blood flow is restricted to appendages, muscle memory is developed, and our brains automatically reduce our vision (tunnel vision) to the item we focus on.  It takes hundreds of hours of training to overcome how our bodies undermine our decisions to use force appropriately.

Our weapons training involves shooting at moving threats,  moving while shooting and shooting from cover.  This proficiency occurs because of repetitive training and is a perishable skill, that’s why it is repeated regularly. Confidence, often  inspired by movies,  video games and are own mindsets, usually exceeds our personal abilities. The hard, undeniable truth is that CCW class doesn’t teach everything that needs to be taught for these special crowded situations and doesn’t require the repetition required to maintain those skills.  Every firearm expert will tell you  that only a small fraction of the shots fired by a trained individual, police officer or citizen will actually hit the target.  That accuracy is questionable and a real life danger exists of shooting innocent people who may be running for their lives or paralyzed by fear in a stationary position.  That’s not the type of odds a trained police officer wants to face and that’s not an answer I want to give to parents of students who may be injured or killed because we don’t consider the unintended consequences of the laws we pass and the actions we take as a result of them.

I’m concerned about a self-activation of a CCW on a campus and the potential to be involved in a deadly force encounter with an law enforcement officer.  We see those deadly encounters often enough in blue on blue shootings where another officer , even in uniform is the victim. We have crowded environments where dozens, hundreds or even thousands of people congregate, whether it’s a classroom, performing center or stadium parking lot to root on your favorite college football team.  When the opportunity to mix firearms with alcohol is available we have seen far too often the tragic consequences. 

If you get time time  please visit   http://youtu.be/8QjZY3WiO9s and view a nine minute video on a controlled study on a college campus involving a wide range of people with varying amounts of weapons familiarity and their ability to react effectively to armed aggressors.  Most CCW holders won't even be able to un-holster their gun and they will more likely be killed themselves or kill innocent bystanders than stop the aggressor.

Please consider this testimony, that of my experienced colleagues, our college campus leaders and experts and do not approve SB1254. Thank you.