Police Study Deadly Force Situations
Seminar examines reactions to circumstances
ANCHORAGE- In Anchorage and cities nationwide, more police officers are opening fire because they say they have no choice.
Last year the city saw five officer-involved shootings. Now, the Anchorage Police department is trying to get a better understanding of deadly force situations.
“You get chemical abuse, you get young people, you get access to firearms and you have the officers trying to stop them,” said Dr. Bill Lewinski of the Force Science Institute. “We tend to look at the police profession and say, isn’t there something you can do, when it’s really a social problem dealing with a whole pile of factors.”
Lewinski said though it’s a nationwide problem, there is a solution -- different training.
“We need to quit looking at law enforcement as a trade and treat it as a profession. And if that’s the case, it’s science-based and it fits more along the nursing model or dentistry model.”
But Police Union President Derek Hsieh said it’s hard to change the way people have been thinking for decades. “It goes back to the historical aspect of law enforcement. At one time police officers were just looked at as night watchmen that went out and kept the peace. It was not as sophisticated as it is today.”
Lieutenant Anthony Henry, who is the commander for the APD Homicide Unit, said the two-day seminar at the Police Training Academy gives him a better understanding of the situations he has been dealing with for 21 years.
“99.9 percent of the time it’s a life or death encounter,” said Henry. “Its not something that requires a great deal of thought. It’s more of a reaction because it’s for the defense of your life or another.”
They hope having a better understanding of their reactions will lead to a better relationship with the community.