At the Academy: HPD proving to be ‘world beater’ with its red dot cadet training

Please classify HPD as a world beater.

The Department has become the first major police department – not in the nation but in the world – to require red dot optics training for each of its cadets. This has been going on for three cadet classes.

Robert Sandoval, HPOU Board member and the sergeant over cadet firearms training, made it clear to the Badge & Gun that the academy’s red dot curriculum has become the boilerplate for departments thousands of miles from the Bayou City.

“We’re not just the first in the nation,” the sergeant pointed out with pride, “we’re leading the world. We have the first endeavor with this type of optic.

World-wise Teamwork

“We have been contacted by over 300 agencies nationwide. They want to use our curriculum.”

Sandoval said he and fellow trainer, Senior Police Officer Robert Walsh, have provided red dot optics training for HPD officers for the last year and a half. Each officer takes an eight-hour class. But HPD cadets get it first-hand and have 80 hours with the red dot sights.

Cadet Class No. 243 was the first to get red dot training. The second was Class No. 244 which just finished its academy training. That means the third red-dot-trained HPD cadets will be seeing Sandoval and Walsh sometime in April.

You can say that these three classes are the first three in the world to experience mandatory red dot optics training.

Sgt. Sandoval was excited about the teamwork involved in the worldly process, saying Police Chief Art Acevedo believed in it and pushed the training academy to be “a world beater.”

Sandoval said Assistant Chief Lori Bender and Commander Kristine Anthony-Miller, HPD’s head of training, have been great leaders of the team. “Man, have they all been helpful in the process,” the sergeant said after a recent day of the red dot. “They gave us what we needed to get it done.”

Used to be it took eight or nine days to train cadets to use iron sites. Today, however, Sandoval said red dot training can be accomplished and put the trainee in compliance with acceptable standards, in half that amount of time.

The conversion class for already-commissioned HPD officers takes about eight hours, Walsh said, careful to note the crucial change in policing tradition.

“We’ve been using iron sights on guns,” he pointed out, “you would line them up on top of your gun while focusing on the front sight. That is no longer the sighting system on the gun we’re using. Now officers and cadets will continue to stay target-focused while using the red dot sight to help fine tune a proper sight picture.

“This has allowed us to expand the training to incorporate different aspects,” Sandoval said. “Rather than just shooting a course for two weeks, we go over the use of cover, shooting with movement and the injured limb drills.”

The latter entails “getting your weapon out of your holster with your support hand,” he said, while also explaining that the cadet training also includes use of cover, shooting with movement – and the aforementioned shooting with an injured limb.

Hardball training with a Softball

The latter, Walsh explained, describes a training situation “where you use the support hand only. You have your holster on your strong-hand side. If that hand or arm is injured, you have to use your support hand only. We have them (cadets or officer trainees) hold a softball in their strong hand so they can’t use it.

“They must use their support hand to draw, reload or to do malfunction clearance.” The malfunctions covered in the drills are failure to fire, stovepiping and failure to extract.

A drawback to the mandatory red dot pistol training, he said, centers around the increased cost for cadets. In addition to the price of their Glock 17 MOS, they now have to foot the bill for the Trijicon RMR Type 2 LED adjustable red dot device. All told. the cost that also includes the total package of weapon mounted lights and the red dot optics usually reaches $1,000 or more.

Current officers do not have to buy new guns, Walsh was careful to explain to those who don’t already know. “They can get their weapons milled to fit the new optic.”