Beat To Beat
April 2019
Preventing Unintentional / Negligent Discharges
Mike Willis

This month I wanted to address an issue which is paramount to officer safety, and that is preventing unintentional/negligent discharges of firearms. These occurrences are simply inexcusable; however they occur every year in law enforcement and have resulted in the tragic loss of far too many of our brothers and sisters in blue.
          Avoiding such an incident starts with proper tactics in your training program. Have a "train like you fight" mentality in all aspects of training to develop proper tactics. Officers must understand that they must keep their finger off of the trigger until they have made a conscious decision to shoot their firearm. I have caught veteran officers with their finger on the trigger in high stress tactical training, in order to "cheat" and speed up their response if it is a shoot situation. This is the quickest way for your fellow officers to lose their trust and confidence in you. Remember: "Friendly fire isn't friendly" according to Murphy, or anyone else you ask!
Law enforcement officers' duty weapons must be carried combat ready, therefore your finger is the ultimate safety. The amount of time it takes to move our finger to the trigger in a shoot situation is too minimal compared to the dangers of having your finger resting on the trigger.
Unintentional/Negligent discharges occur due to several reasons when an officers' finger is on the trigger. These are sympathetic contractions which are normal physiological reactions, which we do without even knowing or thinking about them.
The first is the startle effect, which is simply being surprised and tensing up. It is a normal response and not something you can necessarily control.
The second reason is imbalance. When you trip or stumble you will instinctively tense up and tighten your grip on anything in your hand.
The third reason is when you exert maximum force with one hand, the muscles in your other hand will also contract. Under stress, trying to control a resistive subject with your non-gun hand, could possibly cause you to unknowingly squeeze the trigger if your finger was on it in your gun hand.
Whether you are entering a room in a tactical situation or dealing with a combative subject, the last thing you want to be worrying about is if your partner is keeping their finger off the trigger. Trust is key for efficiency and effectiveness in tactical situations. Good habits developed in training will carry over to real time activities since we revert to our instincts and training under stress. Therefore, always train hard and be safe!

Mike Willis
Law Enforcement Program Coordinator & National Training Director
US Deputy Sheriff's Association
Survival  Training
USDSA Provides Training at USDSA National Training Headquarters

On March 28th, 2019, The United States Deputy Sheriff's Association hosted law enforcement officers from 5 agencies including: Wichita Police Department, Sedgwick County Courthouse Police Department, York County Sheriff's Office, Haysville Police Department, and Junction City Police Department.

The participants attended USDSA's Instinctive Hand-to-Hand Combat Training. This free class focuses on hands-on applications to real world situations. Officer survival and proper use of force are of the highest priority.  

Safety Tip of the Month: Bicycle Safety

As the weather gets warmer, many people are resuming their bicycle riding activities.  The United States Deputy Sheriff's Association wants to remind everyone to be safe while riding their bikes. Here are some safety tips:

  • Always wear a properly fitting helmet. 
  • Keep aware of your surroundings, especially when sharing a road with vehicles. Just because you can see them, doesn't mean that they see you.
  • When riding at night, wear reflective clothing and make sure your bicycle has its front and back lights, as well as reflectors on it.
  • Check your shoes and pants to be sure there isn't anything loose or dangling that could get caught in the bike chain.
  • Pay attention to your biking surface. Sand, ice, rocks can be extremely hazardous to riders. 
  • Service your bicycle every year to make sure that everything on it is in good working order.
Equipment  Donations
USDSA's equipment donation program provides safety equipment, free of charge, to under-funded departments.  Below, are a few thank you letters we have received this past month.  To see the complete listing of the many departments we have supported through this program, CLICK HERE.
Woodhull Police Department, Illinois

On behalf of the Woodhull Police Department, I would like to extend our gratitude for the donation we received from you and the United States Deputy Sheriff's Association. Once I reached out to you, I had a quick response back confirming our equipment needs and within a couple of weeks had the equipment in hand.

We received a new PBT and tubes along with two flashlights. Your generosity helps small departments like mine acquire much needed equipment and is sincerely appreciated. Thanks for everything you do. Stay safe.

Best Wishes,
Chad C Hillier
Chief of Police
Walthall County Sheriff's Department, Mississippi

My deputies and I would like to express our gratitude for the (4) ballistic vests. Each vest has been issued to our full-time deputies. As you know, these times are becoming more stressful and challenging for law enforcement and our deputies' safety is one of our top priorities. Serving such a small community has crucial budget restraints. Purchasing these vests would have been a critically financial burden on our budget. This donation will allow us to protect our deputies as our deputies protect our county and state.

With sincere appreciation,

Kyle Breland, Sheriff
Walthall County Sheriff's Department
Brentwood Borough School District Police Department, Pennsylvania

On behalf of the Brentwood Borough School District Police Department and community, I would like to thank you for the generous donation. The Belt Trauma Kit's will make a major difference in the preparedness of our officers and our staff in the school district. The kits will decrease the number of causalities in an attack and save lives during a day we hope never comes. The generous donation will provide each officer with a Belt Trauma Kits along with each school building main office will have one at their disposal. With the current climate we live in, we must be prepared for the worst-case scenario every day we send our kids to school, and you have just placed a small amount of ease on the minds of many. Over the next week, the officers will hold a training to ensure the staff knows how to use the tourniquet and combat gaze. We truly appreciate the work you are doing to assist our brothers and sisters in blue.

With much gratitude,
Jeremy R Bogdanski
Director of School Police and Security
Brentwood School District

Northeast Oklahoma A&M College Department of Public Safety / Campus Police, Oklahoma

The Northeast Oklahoma A&M College Dept. of Public Safety / Campus Police wants to express our sincere gratitude to the United States Deputy Sheriff's Association for the recent donation of the breathalyzer and ballistic helmets.

The addition on these two tools to our department will make our jobs more efficient as well as making our officer's response to any armed incident safe.

As the Director of Public Safety, I wish to personally express my appreciation for your organization's concern for police officers and your dedication to making the thin blue line safer each day. 


J. Mark Wall
NEO A&M College Public Safety / Campus Police

End  Of  Watch
When a law enforcement officer dies in the line of duty, the loss is a tragedy for the family and the community they serve. The USDSA honors all law enforcement officers who  make the ultimate sacrifice to ensure the safety of our communities. We urge everyone to take a moment to reflect on the sacrifices that have been made. 

USDSA provides a cash donation to the primary beneficiary or memorial fund of any law enforcement officer in the United States, who perishes in the line of duty.  If you would like to contribute to this memorial fund, you may donate here.

Remembering those we lost, our thoughts and prayers are with their families and communities.
Corporal Shane Totty
Baton Rouge Police Department, Louisiana
 Border Patrol Agent Donna Doss
U.S. Department of Homeland Security, U.S.A.
Detective William Brewer
Clermont County Sheriff's Department, Ohio
Supervisory Deputy US Marshal Norman Merkel
U.S. Marshal Service, Washington D.C.
Trooper Lucas Dowell
Virginia State Police Department, Virginia
Officer Matthew Rittner
Milwaukee Police Department, Wisconsin
Detective Brian Simonsen
New York City Police Department, New York
Deputy Kirby Robidoux Sax & Fox Tribal Police / Richardson County Sheriff's Office, Nebraska
Master Sergeant Daniel B. Hinton
Florida Highway Patrol, Florida
Undersheriff Monty Johnson
Pawnee County Sheriff's Office, Oklahoma

Officer Nicholas Galinger
Chattanooga Police Department, Tennessee
Sergeant Steve Hinkle
Sullivan County Sheriff's Office, Tennessee

Click here to visit our website for more End Of Watch Tributes
Other  News
USDSA Launches Post-Secondary 
Scholarship Program

Thanks to the generosity of our donors, the USDSA is pleased to announce 
a new post-secondary education scholarship program for dependent 
children of current, full-time commissioned law enforcement officers.
Click here for more information and to apply.
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United States Deputy Sheriff's Association
2909 S. Spruce
Wichita, Kansas  67216