Training an issue |

Training an issue

Scott Willson, retired SLTPD


I have to comment regarding the accidental shooting of the bear by the Douglas County Sheriff’s deputy. First, I am certain the deputy feels terrible of the mistake he made and most likely has played the scenario over in his mind of how even more tragic that event would have been if he was using what is referred to as “less lethal force” (rubber projectiles) with a human threat being the target rather than a bear. I was a police officer with SLTPD. I instructed the department on bear aversion.

Part of the training and responsibility so this type of tragic event would be prevented was to always have at least two officers respond to a bear call. One officer is “armed” with the bear aversion (rubber bullets) ammunition in a shotgun. The bear learns when being shot with rubber bullets that human contact is not something pleasurable. The second officer acts as a lethal force cover officer in the event a bear has to be shot to protect a human. There is no chance of ammunition being mixed up. Rubber bullets should be used in a weapon distinctly marked “less lethal.” Before firing a projectile, the shooter must be aware of giving the bear an avenue of escape. In this scenario the cubs went up the tree which is where a sow (mother bear) sends them for protection. It was only natural for the sow to remain where she was to divert the attention from the cubs. Best thing to have done, especially when dealing with a sow and cubs, would have been to let them just leave on their own. The sow in no way would leave her cubs in the tree. Seems policy and training needs to be addressed.