While it's easy for us non law enforcement folks to sit in the comfort of our living rooms and without any sense of our lives being endangered, we from time to time see news clips on TV of a police shooting of a suspect. If the suspect is black, the media (ABC, CBS, NBC, CNN, USAToday) goes crazy using inflammatory language like "white police officer shoots unarmed black 18 year old". Most of the time the news will leave out critical parts of what actually happened in order to construct an narrative something the likes of "Epidemic Racism in Law Enforcement". To make matters worse, the President, like the main stream media, is a leftist, and will come out quickly (before all the facts are out) and also use inflammatory language. Sadly, there's a huge amount of our nation's population that buys into this constructed, made up narrative. No matter how misconstrued, a large percentage of our population will accept half truths fed to them by the main stream media as the gospel truth. The whole thing often makes for some tense times for our police. The simplest thing like a traffic stop can turn into a nightmare. Our nation's police (federal, state, and local) are the glue that holds society together. They have one of the toughest civilian jobs in the world and most of the time it's a thankless job.
Texas Association of Counties (TAC) visited the Polk County Sheriff's Office for the purpose some unique training that further schools Polk County Sheriff's Deputies in situations that can quickly escalate and how to properly handle them. These real life situations can be anything from simple physical resistance to actual armed confrontation with a hostile suspect pulling a knife or even a gun on our police. The training is high tech and involves video situations that can change based on deputies' reactions to the situation. Two men (Darren Jackson and Terrie Pickering) with TAC have decades of law enforcement experience and were doling out the training to the deputies. "The whole idea is to try deescalate a situation", said Darren Jackson. "When a situation escalates, the idea is to use the appropriate amount of force, and what to do after force has been used" he said. "Ultimately, we want to reduce injuries to not only the officers, but to the violators". He continued, "We don't want to see any loss of life, but the common denominator in all these incidents (when a suspect is killed), if a citizen had followed the orders of the officer, they would all be alive today".
The training is called Response to Resistance Training. The deputies approach a video screen armed with a side arm (gun in holster), a taser gun, and pepper spray. The guns aren't actual police firearms, but rather are high tech laser light guns. The video screen and software tracks every shot fired, and where the shot hit. The Deputies are then advised on what to do afterwards. Some of the situations involve a person abusing someone else, a robbery with multiple armed suspects that are hostile, a single person trying to steal and bike, and a host of other situations. In all of these simulated situations, the suspects are going to resist. Jackson and Pickering sit back and watch what the deputies do before, during, and after the resistance occurs and offers valuable advice on what was done right, what was wrong, and how to better handle these situations.
Polk County Sheriff, Ken Hammack and Chief Deputy, Byron Lyons were glad to let me come and observe the training. I was offered a chance to participate and reluctantly agreed (after deputies agged me on). In my situation, I stepped on the porch of a mobile home where there was allegedly a domestic violence situation going on (one of the most common and most dangerous situations). As I moved to a window to look inside, I could see a woman in distress on a couch, on her back with a man standing over her with an aggressive stance. All I could see was the back of the man. The man turned around and as he did, a shotgun came into view. I ordered the man to put it down (the software reacts to voice commands from the trainee). The man continued to raise the shotgun. In an instant, I was faced with a life and death situation. Here you have a man (likely intoxicated) raising a shotgun. At this point, the man refused to obey (all this happens within 2 to 3 seconds) and I pulled my side arm and shot the man to kill (striking the suspect 3 times, twice in chest and once in his hand as he was going down). As realistic as this was, I knew in my mind it was training and I was safe. I'm confident that in a real life situation like this, it would be a thousand times worse, but when the real deal goes down, it's the training that makes all the difference in the world.
Deputies Liham White and Ronald Bogany react to one of many scenarios.
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