TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) – It is a job they love. The men and women of law enforcement in the Tampa Bay area have a passion for what they do.
But, at the end of their shifts, their goal is clear cut – to go home alive. That boils down to one ever important word – training. Tampa police officers now have a brand new gun range where they can train.
Police Chief Eric Ward and Mayor Bob Buckhorn opened the facility in a very unique way, which was symbolic. Instead of a ribbon cutting, they commenced with a ribbon shooting.
Chief Ward has spoken publicly about the number one goal for his department. He maintains it’s all about training. Law enforcement officers become better at what they do, Ward says, with constant training. That training causes their reactions on the streets to become ingrained. It becomes second nature.
Officers admit it is a risky – but highly rewarding – job. “We get up every morning and strap on a Kevlar vest,” Tampa Police Lt. Michael Stout said. “The words we never want to hear are, ‘Officer down.'”
Indeed, the job of a police officer is intense, stressful and unpredictable. Cops admit they never know what they’ll find. Every day is different. Every day is dangerous.
Case in point is a murder in South Tampa that took place Monday night. Crowds gathered, and emotions ran high.
At one point, roughly 60 people were on scene. They were visibly upset. One man, in particular, approached officers.
Police said they tried to calm the guy down. They began talking with him, asking what’s wrong. He tried to cross the police tape, just inches from entering the crime scene.
“You just never know when something is gonna happen. And, when things get a little crazy, you really resort to your training,” Police Spokesman Stephen Hegarty said.
Officers like Robert Moore know exactly how important it is to train. Both his parents were in law enforcement. Both were Tampa police officers.
We joined him on his shift Tuesday night to patrol the streets of Downtown Tampa. Moore admits that training is key, the key to keeping both officers and citizens protected. “Basically just patrolling the streets, responding to any calls for service, doing anything proactive to keep the city safe,” he said.