DE PERE, Wis. (WBAY) – In light of the Philando Castile shooting and other officer-involved shootings, many wonder what has changed for police training— especially with the use of deadly force.
The De Pere Police Citizen’s Academy just wrapped up, and as students in the class learned—police gun training has become more aggressive. In a Target 2 Assignment, Andrea Hay graduated from the academy—and trained alongside police to learn about the split-second decision to use force.
The days of officers shooting a suspect to ‘wound them’ or ‘knock them out’ are long gone.
De Pere Citizen’s Academy instructor Officer Jedd Bradley says the goal is to stop the threat.
“If we’re there to stop the threat, am I going to stop the threat if I shoot here?” Bradley asks the class, pointing to his chest.
“Or—am I going to stop the threat if I shoot them here?” he asked, pointing at a gunman’s head on a poster target. “We now train to shoot [in the forehead].”
“I knew this question was going to come: ‘well why can’t I shoot them [in the upper torso]?’ We do not train that way. We don’t train to shoot you in the leg,” Bradley continued.
Use of deadly force is extremely uncommon in De Pere; the last incident was a suicide by cop situation five years ago. But officers regularly train and practice with firearms to be prepared at a moment’s notice. Use of deadly force is only to be used where there is imminent danger and significant threat to human life, and especially if a gunman has their weapon pointed at someone less than 21 feet away.
Police say 21 feet is widely considered the average distance someone charging at an officer with a knife or weapon would be successful in his or her attack. Bradley says any officer who uses force must be able to explain their reason in court. He believes most suspects can be taken in without force.
“How you talk to somebody in policing in general makes you a good or a bad cop,” Bradley said, explaining that an aggressive behavior puts people on edge especially because the presence of police of badges, uniforms, Tasers and guns make many people uncomfortable.
“Whether you’re dealing with OWI, whether they’re a suspect, or a victim, sexual assault suspect—you better learn how to talk to people. How you present yourself to that person is going to determine your investigation,” he said.
In a country where police and their communities are becoming more divided, De Pere police say they’re fortunate to have the time and money for extra education—for themselves, and for their community—like in the Citizen’s Police Academy.
“Things are definitely changing. The more people we can educate, the easier our job is in the public,” Bradley said.