After recruit shooting, police relent, disclose training policies

After initially balking at The Baltimore Sun's request following an accidental shooting that critically injured a recruit, Baltimore police have released protocols and policies related to firearms exercises.

With criminal and internal investigations pending, its unclear what specific policies might have been broken or how. But the documents make clear that no live firearm should have been present during the Feb. 12 training exercise.

The policies state that a "safety officer" must be placed at every entrance or access point to ensure that no weapons are inside the training area.

People are supposed to be inspected "each and every time" they re-enter the area. The safety officer is also supposed to require trainees to inspect each other and again ensure no weapons — including firearms, Tasers, pepper spray or knives — have made it inside.

All live weapons are supposed to be kept in a designated secured, limited-access location, the policies say.

Even the "simunition" guns — which resemble police service weapons but have blue grips and fire paintball-like ammunition — are to be handled with great care and treated like live weapons, according to the policies.

Sources have told The Sun that the instructor, William Scott Kern, might have been horsing around and not participating in a training exercise when he fired the shot that struck officer candidate Raymond Gray, 43, in the head. Gray was training with Baltimore police for a position with the University of Maryland police.

The policies state that a weapon can only be drawn during the actual training scenarios, and that "role players" are to wear helmets and groin and neck protection. Weapons must be holstered between scenarios.

"The seriousness and professionalism of the training must be maintained, especially in reference to the handling of the simunition guns," reads one line. Later, it says that despite the designated roles, all participants have a responsibility to address safety violations immediately: "Safety, safety, safety!!!"

Police had refused to release the policies based on advice from its chief legal counsel, and generally have not released their general orders to the public in recent years. Police Commissioner Anthony W. Batts later said that he believed the policies should be released, and the agency provided them four days later.

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