Law enforcement training focuses on use of force - WQOW TV: Eau Claire, WI NEWS18 News, Weather, and Sports

Law enforcement training focuses on use of force

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MADISON (WKOW) -- Police use of force, especially deadly force, is often questioned by the public, so Dane County training deputies want to give people an idea of what goes into making quick decisions in a high stress situation.

Madison media outlets were invited to an informational meeting, held by the Dane County Sheriff's Office, to learn about how officers train to respond to dangerous situations. Instructors say when responding to a scene, they can never really predict what's going to happen and whether a suspect will be combative or aggressive.

Training Deputy Dawn Barger says what makes an officer's job so difficult is figuring out how to gain control of a threat.

"That's where our use of force options are and it starts as low as presence, just being there all the way up to deadly force," says Barger.

Barger says Dane County deputies are taught to expect the worst when responding to a high risk situation. They're trained to use their weapons when facing an armed suspect, but they have less forceful options for less serious situations.

Deputies-in-training spend nearly two years preparing to go out on patrol. All law enforcement officers in Wisconsin are certified by the Law Enforcement Academy at Madison College. It's at least 520 hours or more depending on the hiring department. An additional 24 hours minimum is required to re-certify every year.

Part of that training is on a video simulator that can generate hundreds of different scenarios with a variety of outcomes to keep trainees up to date. Some scenarios are dangerous and require use of deadly force, others end peacefully.

"It allows the officer to go through their assessment process to make the determination on what the appropriate level of force is," says instructor Dep. Kelly Rehwoldt. "We can give officers situations they would encounter on the street."

Rehwoldt says it's a way to bring realism to the training.

Instructors say in 2012, 69 U.S. officers were killed on duty. The hope is that each day of training will help wipe out that statistic.

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