November 13, 2007

SJ deputy hurt in training

A San Joaquin County sheriff's deputy was in the hospital Monday after being injured in the leg Sunday during gun training held by a private company in the Nevada desert.

Douglas Maciel was being treated in the trauma and intensive care unit at University Medical Center of Southern Nevada in Las Vegas, according to nursing staff. They said he was not in a condition to take telephone calls.

Sheriff's officials would not confirm Maciel's name or whether he had been shot; hospital officials confirmed they had a patient by that name.

Maciel, who is assigned to Lathrop police services, was one of four deputies approved to attend a four-day "defensive handgun" course held by Aptos-based Front Sight Firearms Training Institute from Thursday through today in Pahrump, Nev., according to county records.

San Joaquin deputy Dave Konecny said the deputy's injury is to his right leg and that he will be recovering at a Las Vegas trauma center for the next few days.

He said the Sheriff's Department is investigating the circumstances of the injury with staff from what he would only identify as the "training institute."

The San Joaquin County Board of Supervisors approved a request for Maciel and deputy Kevin Johnson to attend, along with two other deputies. The city of Lathrop agreed to pay travel and sal-ary for Maciel and Johnson, according to a letter Sheriff Steve Moore sent to the Board of Supervisors seeking approval Sept. 17. It cited a county cost of $2,100 in salaries and $2,212 in travel to send the other two deputies, Kim Poeun and Ezequiel Pena, who are not assigned to Lathrop. The $5,000 tuition for the four was paid for by the Holbrook Family Law Enforcement Scholarship fund.

The fund was established by John and Denise Holbrook of Manteca. The idea is to keep officers and the public safe by giving them more training, said John Holbrook, a former trustee on the Manteca Unified School District, who is retired from the Navy and the city of Stockton.

"Most communities do not have money to train their officers in firearms to any great extent," John Holbrook said. "Sometimes, (officers) are lucky to fire 50 rounds a year. In the four or five days at Front Sight, they will fire 400 to 500.

"Most of the instructors are retired law enforcement ... so there is a lot of good training that goes on there. It's just like driving a car, the more you train, the safer you are. The more you practice, the safer you are, and the safer everyone is around you."

A way to give back

He said he and his wife have attended the training and the scholarships were a way for the family to give back. Holbrook was involved in Little League and said the league received years of support from police and firefighters. The scholarships began in 2002 or 2003 and pay for two officers each year for five years from every law enforcement agency in the county to attend Front Sight.

Ignatius Piazza, Front Sight's founder and director, did not return a call Monday.

He states on the company's Web site that he has no law enforcement or military experience. Instead, he states he was moved to firearms training after a drive-by shooting in his neighborhood led him to find out that a similar school did not exist.

"I vowed to someday change that for all the law abiding private citizens who deserve to wield a submachine gun or M16 with confidence and ability that exceeds our military and SWAT community," he wrote.

In promotional literature, Front Sight bills itself as "the world's premier resort for self defense and personal safety training." It emphasizes classes on using everything from rifles to submachine guns to knives and says it offers something "surpassing the gun training levels found through the NRA, law enforcement and military communities."

Moore did not respond to a request for comment Monday.

The sheriff's letter to county supervisors included a program description from Front Sight. It described the four-day training as a "fast paced and exciting course" for law enforcement officers, military personnel and citizens. It advertised that upon completion, participants regard- less of their experience would "be able to safely and easily draw your weapon from a con- cealed holster and fire two sighted shots to the center of a target five yards away -- all under 1.5 seconds."

It promised participants multiple opportunities to use the skills "under the stress of simulated, lethal encounters." It also promised drills on low light and night shooting, tactical training and target engagement from arm's length to 25 yards under time pressure.

Bee staff writer Inga Miller can be reached at imiller@modbee.com or 578-2324.

Related content