Sources from inside the Tulsa Sheriff’s Department have indicated that the training records for Bob Bates, the 73-year-old “pay to play” volunteer deputy who accidentally shot and killed Eric Harris, were falsified. Bates was classified as a “advanced reserve,” which requires 480 hours of training. A number of actors have questioned whether Bates actually completed the training, including a representative for Harris’ family and sources inside the Sheriff’s Department. Bates himself released a statement claiming that he received training from the Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office in Arizona, which that office has denied.
Does it really matter? Yes. The training in question was a prerequisite to Bates carrying a gun, meaning that if he was actually expected to complete the training, he might not have been in the field, he might not have been carrying a gun, or he might have had training that guided him away from the tragic error in question. In any event, there’s a good chance that Eric Harris would still be alive. And while I have no idea what the training actually entails, law enforcement officers who do carry lethal weapons should receive extensive (extensive) training before going into the field to guide them away from using guns – accidentally or intentionally – as much as possible.
I’ll repeat what I said a few days ago, which is that Mr. Bates never should have been on that sting operation, much less carrying a gun while there. The risks are simply too high: lethal weapons cause accidental or unnecessary deaths with alarming frequency. But to have such a terrible policy regarding volunteer deputies and then also be negligent with regard to training demonstrates an appalling disregard for the lives of the people who will come in contact with your deputies.