OPA recruits focus on safety during firearms training

Jimmie Rainey knew at the age of 19 that he wanted to become a peace officer.

The 23-year-old Tennessean said he applied to multiple law enforcement agencies throughout the country and the first invitation he received came from the Odessa Police Academy.

Rainey and five other men and women make up the 18th OPA session and those six recruits were practicing firearms training this week at the Odessa Police Department Shooting Range.

During Thursday’s media session, Rainey — who is still on active duty for the Army National Guard — talked about the firearms training he has experienced at the OPA.

“It’s all about safety,” Rainey said. “They are trying to make sure that you are safe in everything that you do. If you are ever put in a situation where you have to stop a threat, the biggest thing is making sure that you know where all of our rounds are going and that you aren’t shooting rounds randomly.”

Graduation for the 18th session of the OPA is set to take place at 3 p.m. Aug. 2 at the MCM Eleganté Hotel. However, before any of the six recruits can receive their badges they have to complete firearms training. The recruits were training Thursday with SIG Sauer P320 .40 caliber handguns.

OPD range master and Sgt. Carlos Chavez said every recruit needs 48 hours of firearms training, while peace officers need annual training for all firearms they use in the line of duty. Chavez has been the range master since 2003 and a firearms instructor since 1994.

“Every time an officer has been involved (in a shooting), they’ve thanked me for all the training, because it came into play and it saved their life,” Chavez said. “It makes you feel good that you’ve been doing something good for them.”

The recruits practiced a variety of shooting positions during Thursday’s training session.

OPD firearms instructor Sgt. Tommy Jones said this week’s training will be very important when the recruits are on the streets. Jones has been a firearms instructor since 2010.

“You won’t know what to encounter as an officer, because every day will be different,” Jones said. “You get into different situations every day. There are days that you will have to draw your weapon. There are days where you won’t have to draw your weapon. Every day is a surprise.

“Our job as instructors is to get (recruits) to the point where they can and can’t pull their firearm. If they have to use (their firearm), we show them how to use it accurately and how to keep themselves and the citizens of Odessa alive.”