Almost every recruit in the recent Indiana Metropolitan Police Academy has been killed, with the greatest incidents of death occurring by the hands of a trainer pointing a plastic gun and yelling “bang!”
According to the IndyStar, it’s one of the more indelible lessons for the 26-member class so far through half a year of training – this line of work can get you killed.
“It is very sobering,” said Brittany Waltz, the only female recruit in the police academy class.
During a time in U.S. history when police are questioned every day about their actions, the fact remains that every three days an officer dies in the line of duty. In an attempt to minimize deaths amongst their own while positively combating the use of controversial police behavior, today’s officers are trained how to verbally de-escalate situations, maintain subject’s constitutional rights, how to read people and how to use force when the incident calls for it.
The Indiana Law Enforcement Academy, the largest police officer trainer in the state, requires new officers get 16 weeks of training. However, IMPD recruits get a minimum of 47 weeks before they take the road alone. This type of training costs about $125,000 per recruit, which means the city will spend over $10 million a year.
“What’s the cost of a bad hire,” questions Maj. James Cleek, head of the IMPD academy. “I would venture to say that it will blow away $125,000.”
To teach officers the dangers of the job, training often includes dashcam videos of real officers who take one misstep and get shot during a traffic stop. It also includes teaching new officers survival tactics to stay alive until backup arrives.
Jeff Patterson questioned recruits, “Why do we use force?” to which they replied, “To gain control.” He then asked, “How much force is appropriate?” Again recruits replied, this time saying, “Reasonable force to stop an imminent attack.”
IndyStar reported that one of the hardest lessons for trainees is that using force may actually make their subjects safer. Issuing orders forcefully and clearly is often more effective than confusing an individual who then does not follow the orders. Tackling and restraining someone is better than shooting them. For the most serious incidents, recruits are taught how to shoot to bring a person down.
“Sometimes when people are hesitant to use an appropriate or reasonable amount of force,” said Sgt. Nathan Barlow, who has overseen the training of this latest class, “they make the situation worse.”