This is the latest in an occasional series on Burbank Police
HILLSIDE DISTRICT -- No matter what their rank, every Burbank
Police officer has to answer to Larry Nichols when they’re on his
That’s because Nichols, the department’s rangemaster, is the man
responsible for keeping officers up to date on the shooting tactics
of police work. He does so by requiring them to pass his
custom-designed training sessions.
“From the top down, no one is exempt,” Nichols said. “The chief
has to pass my required monthly training just like everyone else.”
Nichols executes his lessons in weaponry at the police shooting
range, nestled deep in Wildwood Canyon Park, near where a brush fire
broke out Oct. 21.
When he took the job in 1984, Nichols began altering the regimen
every month to keep officers abreast of what is happening in the
streets. Instead of standing in place and shooting at a fixed target,
officers practice drills such as running, climbing, ducking and
getting into and out of cars while firing rounds.
“I don’t make it easy on them, because if it were easy, they
wouldn’t learn anything,” Nichols said. “What I do is create a new
comfort zone and then push the envelope.”
In order to provide well-rounded training, Burbank Police Officer
Brent Ambrose often teaches hand-to-hand combat at the range, which
has a gym. Ambrose teaches arrest-and-control, and instructs officers
on how to use batons, Mace and knives. He and other officers even
built a house on the range about seven years ago for simulating real
“It works great for teaching lower-level shooting techniques and
arresting people inside homes,” Ambrose said, adding that the house
is furnished with domestic items as detailed as soap next to the
To keep his skills sharp and reinforce Nichols’ training, Officer
Stephen Turner said he practices at the range three to four times a
“Thankfully, I haven’t had to shoot [my gun] while on duty,” said
Turner, who has been with the department for more than two years.
“But I always have a sense of wariness, and the more range training I
have, the better prepared I’ll be when the time comes.”
That, Nichols said, is what the range is for.
“The whole purpose is for them to end their shift and go home,”
Nichols said. “I do my best to ensure that happens.”