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Mishawaka Police puts WNDU through firearms training simulator

Published: Dec. 16, 2020 at 7:21 PM EST
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MISHAWAKA, Ind. (WNDU) - When police-involved shootings happened, a common question asked by investigators and the public is, “Was the shooting justified?”

“There is a huge difference between our public’s perception of use of force versus the reality of the situation,” said Sgt. Rich Freeman. “We’re trying to make efforts to bridge that gap.”

Moments can escalate quickly. Decisions have to be made in split-seconds.

On Wednesday, Mishawaka Police allowed WNDU to learn about de-escalation tactics and how they are trained to use force, when a situation might warrant firearms or Taser.

Sgt. Freeman said the public’s ideals of de-escalation measures may look differently from what’s actually effective in certain situations. Some instances, he said, the use of profanity can get the job done with an obstinate individual - meaning no one had to use a weapon.

“Any kind of de-escalation where we’re not invoking violence. Some people get offended if you try to challenge them or whatever, but again, that’s what we’re here for. We have to establish control of the situation,” Freeman stated.

When it comes to traffic stops, police can only pull people over for a justifiable reason, such as speeding. Evading police increases the severity of a criminal charge. While they are not required, Freeman said it would behoove an officer to explain to a person during a traffic stop why he or she was pulled over.

When are police allowed to use force?

“We’re trained to shoot to stop, to stop the threat. If I go to shoot somebody in the foot, and they’re a moving target, my chances of hitting that’s going to be a lot less than it would be to hit them center mass,” explained Lt. Tim Williams with the Mishawaka Police Department.

Mishawaka Police showed body camera footage of a Chicago call where police asked a man to drop a knife. He didn’t listen. An officer deployed a Taser, which failed to subdue the suspect, who then stabbed an officer. A second officer shot 21 rounds before the man dropped the knife.

“A lot of times when it comes to knives and kind of knife attacks, they can happen in a matter of seconds as you’ve seen. And the distance covered can be a very great distance, sometimes more than 21 feet and that are you know, less than three seconds you know, so you’re going to want to be able to adjust to that. So if you can use the Taser stuff that’s within use it but our goal is to stay that one step ahead above the threat level being used towards us,” explained Williams.

Using a firearm is never the goal going into a situation, he said.

“The last thing we want to have to use is our firearm. So because there’s a lot that goes with that, a lot of responsibility, a lot of liability. And, you know, that’s the last thing we want to do,” Williams said.

Mishawaka Police must undergo 24 hours of mandatory training each year to maintain their certification as members of law enforcement.

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