Police and law enforcement officers play a critical role within our communities. Everyday they help people in need and keep citizens safe. Everyday they also kill an average of 3 people nationwide.
We believe officers can play a vital role in communities they serve without killing the people they are sworn to protect. It begins with proper training for the actual problems officers face, not on perceived and rare threats.
the problems with police training
TRAINING DELAYS – FULL AUTHORITY – NO TRAINING
This is one of the most alarming aspects of training regulation, allowing officers to be trained AFTER a police officer begins working.
Currently, there are 23 states that allow new officers to defer training. This means new, untrained officers have full authority to detain, arrest, incarcerate or even kill without ever attending basic police training.
MONTHS POLICE CAN HAVE POLICE POWER WITHOUT ATTENDING TRAINING
Among the states that allow deferments, many permit officers up to one year of untrained employment before being mandated to attend basic training. Some states permit only a few months of deferment, while others are ambiguous with requirements such as “next available training”.
However, almost all states with deferment policies allow for extensions beyond the first year. In some states deferment extensions can last up to 3 years, meaning an officer is fully authorized to work for years without any formal training.
NOT ENOUGH TRAINING
average MANDATED Continued Education hours
AVERAGE MANDATED basic training hours
AVERAGE MANDATED field training hours
For a variety of historical and constitutional reasons, there is no federally mandated training minimums for our nation’s law enforcement officers. This creates a patchwork of training requirements that vary state by state. Minimums can range from 7 months of basic training in Maryland to zero required basic training in Hawaii.
Field training is often required by local police agencies, but without state mandated minimum hours or standards, departments can set guidelines that are inadequate. This allows officers to work without receiving on-the-job-training and lacking in any oversight by either the legislators or the training commission.
THE WRONG TRAINING
BIAS AND RACE TRAINING
47% of people killed by law enforcement officers in 2016 were non-white individuals. 518 people died, yet law enforcement continues to have minimal training relating to diversity, culture, and bias. Many states have no bias training mandates at all and some satisfy the state requirements by simply showing a Hollywood movie.
NON-WHITE INDIVIDUALS KILLED BY POLICE
HOURS OF TRAINING PROVIDED Related to Human BIAS, CULTURE OR DIVERSITY
A CRISIS IN MENTAL HEALTH
In 2016, at least 25% of all people killed by law enforcement officers exhibited signs of mental illness. That’s more than 275 people. Yet, officers on average spend only 10 hours training for mental health crisis intervention.
INDIVIDUALS KILLED BY POLICE EXHIBITING MENTAL ILLNESS
HOURS OF TRAINING MENTAL HEALTH CRISIS INTERVENTION
Reactionary Gap/ Tueller Drill/ “21 Foot Rule”
In 2016 14% of the people killed by law enforcement officers were in possession of only a knife or sharp object. 153 people were killed based on an observation made by a Utah police officer in 1983. Officer Tueller published an article in a magazine that hypothesized that a person could charge and stab a police officer before the officer could un-holster their weapon if the attacker was within 21 feet. While this has been widely debunked, officers regularly kill individuals who pose no threat at all, by relying on this unscientific and faulty claim.
individuals KILLED by police possessing a KNIFE OR sharp object
POLICE officers killed by A KNIFE or SHARP OBJECT
police are not training for what kills them
Policing is dangerous, but it is not as dangerous as many other professions. On average, law enforcement officers spend nearly one third of their training learning how to defend themselves against potential assaults and homicides. However, between 2006-2015 687 officers died as a result of accidents, largely car crashes, and only 330 police officers were murdered.
police killed by accident
2006 – 2015
police killed by homicide
2006 – 2015
PERCEIVED THREAT – TRAINED TO BE SCARED
It is tragic when an officer is killed in the line of duty. To prevent further tragedies within the police force, trainers review policies and training to stop similar occurrences in the future. While this evaluation is needed and required, over time an infinite number of threat scenarios are generated for training. Therefore, the focus in much law enforcement training is on preparation for threats that are perceived because of singular or anecdotal events. Concentrating on these singular events places officers in a constant state of fear.
POLICE FELONIOUSLY KILLED
*In 2016 an uptick occured in firearm homicides and “ambush” style assaults. However, law enforcement deaths continue to show significant decreases in the last 30 years.
HOURS OF BASIC TRAINING DEDICATED TO FIREARMS AND TACTICAL TRAINING
Reserves and Special Police
Built into most state systems are special categories of law enforcement officers who often receives considerably less mandated training than their “sworn” counterparts but still exercise full police powers. This occurs within jurisdictions that include state and local parks, schools and colleges, hospitals, housing authorities, government buildings, and transportation venues such as airports and subways.
It is a rarely publicized fact that police and governmental agencies rely regularly on Special Jurisdiction Police, many of whom are volunteers, for law enforcement. While some states require all law enforcement officers, regardless of their classification, to meet the minimum qualifications and training of their fellow, more traditional counterpart’s, this is the overwhelming exception.
To witness the abject failures of inadequate and improper training for reserve officers, one needs to look no further than the 2015 killing of Eric Harris by 73-year-old insurance broker Robert Bates, the untrained volunteer and wealthy political donor who served as a Tulsa County Sheriffs Reserve Deputy. This unpaid law enforcement officer shot Mr. Harris to death with a .357 revolver when he mistook his own gun for a Taser while effectuating an arrest subsequent to a foot chase.
Bates was convicted of manslaughter in 2016.