TPD's Precision Rifle Operators Train To Be 'Top Notch Marksmen'
TULSA, Oklahoma - A Tulsa police sniper is on routine leave after shooting and killing a suspect police say was holding a little girl hostage, with a gun to her head.
The snipers are part of TPD's special operations team, which has six snipers – now known as precision rifle operators.
They train at least twice a month, go to special schools and amongst them, and have an average of 10 years’ experience.
"All precision rifle operators are top notch marksmen," said the head of Tulsa’s team of precision rifle operators, Officer Perry Lewis.
Lewis has around 20 years’ experience. He said they routinely train at taking a shot at 400 yards and can even do so from 600 yards, but that is rarely what they face.
"In town and the national average is 50 yards for a precision rifle operator to use deadly force," Lewis said.
He said their primary role, because of their birds-eye positioning and scopes, is to give information to the entry and arrest teams, providing descriptions and movement of suspects.
Lewis said when they are called on to use deadly force, they are prepared.
"That's one of the things we train on quite a bit,” he said. “If you see a bad guy in your scope, you're not worried about your nerves - you let your training kick in."
They don't have to be given a green light or go ahead to use deadly force - they make those decisions based on the situation and the department's policy, just like all officers in the field.
Lewis said even though they're not taking an up close shot, taking the shot still takes a toll.
"It's a traumatic incident,” he said. “That's a lot to ask an individual to go through."
The officer who fired the shot at Tuesday’s standoff is now on routine leave, pending first, the criminal investigation, and second, the internal affairs investigation.