The accidental shooting of a North Texas police officer during an active shooter training exercise earlier this month raises troubling questions.

Sansom Park Police Officer Lina Mino was seriously injured when she was shot in the face during a live drill at an elementary school in Forest Hill southeast of Fort Worth. The event was organized by the Forest Hill Police Department, led by a third party trainer and included officers from several different agencies.

How could this have happened? Why were live ammunition involved? What are the safety standards required for these active shooting exercises?

The instructor in charge of the training was placed on administrative leave from his position as reserve deputy police chief this week, and the Texas Commission on Law Enforcement suspended his general instructor certificate pending investigations from Texas Rangers and the Tarrant County Sheriff’s Office. . The commission also suspended its training contract with Forest Hill Police, which it had approved to deliver the training.

We don’t know if the instructor was responsible for the incident. But our consideration of the matter has drawn our attention to the question of the training of instructors.

TCOLE told us that the instructor who oversaw the training was not specifically certified to conduct active shooter training. No specific certification to do so exists in the law.

Instead, assessing the qualifications of any instructor selected by a law enforcement agency to provide active shooter training is the responsibility of that agency, the TCOLE spokeswoman told us, Gretchen Grigsby.

The Texas Legislature in 2019 required that every school police or resource officer complete a TCOLE-approved active shooter response training program within 180 days of assignment. But we wonder why those providing this training aren’t required to be specifically certified in active shooter instruction.

The same goes for David Riedman, founder of K-12 School Shooting Database, an independent research project that tracks school shootings nationwide. He said establishing uniform requirements for instructor certification is necessary to avoid a confusing array of training practices.

Advanced Law Enforcement Rapid Response Training, which is affiliated with Texas State University, provides active shooter training with the assistance of funding from the Legislature.

J. Pete Blair, its executive director, said his training courses first use the use of fake “blue guns” in the early stages and then progress to the use of real modified handguns with chambers that shoot harmless balls of soap. All officers must remove their own weapons before participating in training. To make sure, they are scanned with metal detectors and undergo pat-downs, Blair said.

The Forest Hill accident was “horrific”, not only because an officer was injured, but also because of the apparent breach of best practice, he added.

We agree. Texas school districts must ensure their students are safe from active shooters. We don’t know what happened at Forest Hill and hope the authorities find out who is to blame. In the meantime, we hope the Legislative Assembly will consider imposing specific active-fire training requirements for instructors when it resumes session in January.