Training Unit

The Erie Police Training Unit was revamped in 2001 following an incident in which three Erie Police Officers were shot. The actions by one of the officers, Terry Dawley was above and beyond what would be expected of the average officer. Officer Dawley was a member of the Erie Police SWAT Team and it was decided that all officers should receive some of the tactical training that the SWAT Team officers were receiving as well as improving all aspects of training.


This has been a work in progress and the current Training Unit consists of two officers. The supervisor is Lt. Les Fetterman and he is assisted by Sgt. Mark Sanders. The Training Unit's philosophy is that its trainers will be certified as instructors in a multitude of areas. Firearms instructors should know weapon retention techniques taught in defensive tactics lessons and less-lethal weapons options are tied to use of force training and so on. This ensures that officers will not be given conflicting lessons at training sessions and are taught real world tactics and procedures that work.


The Erie Police Department far exceeds the minimum requirements in place by the State of Pennsylvania to be a municipal police officer. Erie Police Officers are required to qualify with their duty issued handguns four times per year, one of which must be a dim-light qualification. They also qualify with the M-4 patrol rifle and shotgun once per year. They must re-certify yearly in less-lethal options which includes pepper spray, impact weapons and TASERS. They are also taught use of force policy, state law and federal standards on a yearly basis. The training calendar is divided into quarters and officers attend two days of state mandated training during the 1st quarter. They attend two days of Department in-service training during the 2nd quarter and during the 4th quarter. The 3rd quarter consists of state mandated qualifications with the handguns, shotguns and rifle.


During the in-service training within the Department, officers receive tactical handgun training, defensive tactics skills including full contact scenarios with a Redman suit and scenarios with Simunition marking cartridges. They are also trained in less lethal options, use of force, driving skills, policy updates, diversity training and any other police related training that will enhance their street survival skills or make them a more professional and efficient police officer.


In addition to the required training, officers are encouraged to use the Department’s indoor range which is available to them at anytime training is not in session. Ammunition is also provided for them to practice with. The Department also has several part time firearms instructors available in the various divisions to assist officers if needed. Officers are also provided with training made available outside the Department which includes specialized training and seminars.


The Erie Police Department realizes that a better trained officer increases not only their own safety, but the safety of its citizens. It also reduces liability and helps officers project a positive and professional image of the Department.


For more information on the Training Unit contact,

Lt. Mark Sanders, (814) 870-1114, msanders@erie.pa.us

Indoor Firing Range, (814) 870-1116