April 20, 2021
Government Leaders Must Implement Police Suitability and Training Standards
The tragic and untimely death of Duante Wright during an encounter with the Brooklyn Center Minnesota police was an egregious case of police misfeasance. The actions of the officers, as observed through body camera footage, raise serious questions about the quality of their training, and the judgement and temperament of the officer, who shot Wright. Mistaking a taser for a firearm is unacceptable.
Policing in contemporary America has become a complex and dangerous profession with extreme consequences for error. The social dynamics with which American police officers must contend are constantly evolving, while practices and policies governing the selection and training of officers have not kept pace. This is particularly true with respect to use of force issues.
It is a fundamental responsibility of police agency heads to ensure that the officers under their supervision are competent and properly trained in use of force techniques. Such training must include intense, interactive simulations, managed, controlled and directed by highly qualified trainers and supported by scientific research. Officers must be challenged and evaluated utilizing real-time and real-world simulations that force them to demonstrate acceptable levels of proficiency. This training must be continuous in order to maintain psycho-motor conditioning.
Government policy makers across the nation, have yet to acknowledge this responsibility. In Massachusetts police training has been underfunded for decades and efforts to adopt minimum performance standards have been either ignored or resisted. Consequently, the people of this Commonwealth are vulnerable to a replay of the catastrophe that took the life of Duante Wright. While it is virtually impossible to totally eliminate tragic mistakes, the implementation of state of the art suitability standards and training programs governing police use of force can dramatically reduce them.
“ The Law Will Never Be Respected Until Those Who Enforce It Are ?”