A McLennan County probation officer is recovering from a gunshot wound after she was injured Thursday morning while being trained to carry a weapon for her job.
Brittany Bates was at the Department of Public Safety Tactical Training Center in Florence when she holstered her handgun and it fired, striking her in the buttock. She was taken to a hospital in Georgetown, where she was treated and released, said Chip Seigman, McLennan County Community Supervision and Corrections Department director.
Bates, who has been an adult probation officer for 17 months, was receiving firearms training to be certified to carry a pistol at work, Seigman said.
Seigman said Bates’ gunshot wound was a “through and through,” meaning the projectile did not remain lodged in her body.
John Buchele, a McLennan County adult probation department division manager, is a certified firearms instructor and is investigating the incident, Seigman said.
Department of Public Safety Sgt. Robbie Barrera said that while the training facility northwest of Georgetown is operated by the DPS, there were no DPS certified instructors involved in Thursday morning’s training.
Seigman said the Bell County Probation Department reserved the firearms range, and eight McLennan County probation officers were taking part in the training and certification process. Bell County officials were serving as instructors, he said.
Seigman, who has been director of the McLennan County department for 11 years, said he approved giving his officers the option of carrying firearms on the job four years ago. Since then, about half of the 45 probation officers have chosen to carry guns, he said.
“I leave it up to them to decide,” Seigman said. “It is solely their decision. I don’t force anybody to carry who doesn’t want to or who doesn’t feel comfortable.”
Seigman said there have been no previous training incidents and that no officers from his department have fired their guns while performing their duties.
This training accident will not give Seigman second thoughts about his officers carrying guns, he said.
“I don’t think so,” he said. “If people are trained and certified and are doing what they are supposed to be doing, I believe that officers can safely carry in the field.”