The Richmond Police Department has developed a national reputation for implementing regular officer training that has reduced use of deadly force incidents. The department has had one fatal officer-involved shooting since 2007.
On Thursday, members of the Citizens Police Review Commission participated in the type of training that police say helped garner positive results.
One member, David A. Brown, wrote this interesting piece about his experience:
“Scenario-based training, regularly repeated, means Richmond cops learn and reinforce the skills necessary to work toward avoiding deadly force incidents when able, and the skills necessary to utilize deadly force effectively when the circumstances require it.
Today I participated in two rounds of Force Options training. I was equipped with a handgun (1911A1 pistol modified for Airsoft pellets), a Taser, a baton and a patrol vehicle.
In the first scenario, reported as “man yelling and cursing at passers-by, no cover car available,” I confronted a disturbed man with a gun. While holding him at gunpoint, I was able by verbal command to get him to put his weapon on the ground. He refused my further verbal commands to face away from me and stand still. Instead, he approached me in a threatening manner. I was able to holster my firearm and deploy my Taser while he was still about six feet away. This was a successful outcome as we both walked away from what could easily have been a deadly force encounter.
The second scenario was a car stop. I pulled up behind and to the left of the suspect vehicle, which was standing at the curb with the drivers’ door open. As I approached the vehicle, I verbally commanded the occupant(s) to close the door, all while trying to see inside the vehicle. It was unoccupied. As I walked toward the back of the vehicle, a subject came around the corner of the building with a long gun and began shooting at me (classic assassination set-up scenario). All I could do was to get down behind the vehicle and try not to get hit. The subject then fled back around the corner. I anticipated that he would come out from the other side of the structure close to me, which he did. We exchanged shots. I hit him and he hit me, but his weapon would likely have penetrated my vest (he hit me square in the chest and the arm). I failed to take advantage of available cover, stood up straight, making a nice big target for the shooter.
The learning that takes place in scenario-based training is intense and very realistic. I experienced tunnel-vision and adrenalin rush that makes these type of incidents so critically important to train for. It is this training that helps RPD officers take an average of one gun per day off the street without using deadly force.
Thanks to Captain Tirona, Detective Villalobos and Officer DeOrian for including me in this training. The insight is helpful in my job as a member of the Citizens Police Review Commission.”
Another member of the Citizens Police Review Commission, Oscar Garcia, wrote this about his experience:
“This morning I had the opportunity to participate in what is called force option training at RPD as a member of the Citizens Police Review Board. I was an active participant and was put through two actual incidents that have occurred to a responding officer in the US.
In one case, I responded to a call of a guy acting erratically and was yelling at people. I walked over and found a guy in distress with a gun (bb gun). I was too nice to him and found myself shot with 2-3 bbs in a split second.
I am very glad that our officers have this real life training to ensure they respond with the right amount of force. I also saw firsthand the danger our officers face everyday.”