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Police trainee shooting a public relations disaster

The accidental shooting of a University of Maryland police officer trainee in a an exercise is a public relations disaster that Baltimore's mayor and police commissioner wish were just a bad dream ("Campus officer shot in training," Feb. 13).

Everyone is asking how this incident that reeks of a Keystone Cops caper could have occurred. But sadly, it's no laughing matter.

Apparently the proper authorities were not notified that the training sessions were being conducted at the former Rosewood facility. Strike one.

There are reports that an officer conducting the training mistakenly grabbed the wrong pistol — one that was loaded with live ammunition rather than simulated rounds — from a table and shot the trainee officer. Strike two.

Strict adherence to training rules was breached and there was a lack of communication with the chain of command. Strike three.

Just a few years ago a female Baltimore City firefighter trainee was killed during an exercise. One would think that a similar incident could not occur again. We were wrong, because it did happen again, not in the same department, but in the same city.

That is as incomprehensible as it is totally unacceptable. The mayor is embarrassed and no one can blame her: Controlled-environment training exercises should never, ever end in a tragedy involving loss of life.

I am certain that follow-up reports will show that a glaringly obvious lack of attention to detail played a role in this incident.

We are all praying for the recovery of the police trainee. As for the city, guidelines must be put in place so that human error in a training environment does not occur in the future.

Patrick Lynch, Nottingham

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