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June 28, 2022

Aiming for safety

WATSONVILLE — Gun shots ring out during the day and well into the night as police officers run through training aimed to keep their perishable skills from diminishing.

Last week, Watsonville Police Department held one of four annual department-wide trainings in order to promote the safety of the officers and public servants alike.

“If you don’t practice, your skills start to diminish,” Instructor and Sgt. Tony Figueroa said. “At the same time, it is paramount. If we were to get involved in an officer-involved shooting, we need to make sure we can perform well.”

But more happens there then just the training. It is also where officers take their annual range qualifiers.

“This is what is going to save my life,” Officer Lourdes Gombos said. “This is what is going to save a citizen’s life and get me home.”

Twenty officers, three instructors and a chaplain were present, and the training extended until after sunset so they can practice under

a variety of conditions.

These trainings are typically held four times a year, but officers have access to the shooting range with opportunities to shoot 12 times a year.

“I don’t think there is a number for a perishable skill,” Gombos said. “It should be every chance we get, or on our own time.”

During the trainings, officers use live rounds in order to keep things as realistic as possible, but there are limitations. Gombos said they still cannot train for every situation they face on the street, but the practice is still valuable.

“It better prepares me, and makes community confidence in us rise,” she said. “I know what to do under different conditions so I can react appropriately to whatever I may come across.”

All trainings, according to Gambos, relate to how they work on the field.

“Whether we are shooting on the move, from a vehicle — everything we experience on the street, we experience first out here,” she said.


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