SALT LAKE CITY – In a split second, law enforcement must safely defuse tense encounters.
The Salt Lake City Police gave the media an inside look Tuesday, at their use of force training, and how they handle critical situations.
Every year, officers undergo 40 hours of mandatory training – which includes use of force scenarios.
Trainers pointed to a real encounter that happened on Sep. 23, 2015 when Salt Lake City Police Officer Ben Hone rushed to the aid of two sisters who were brutally attacked and stabbed by a fugitive inside their home. He took one fatal shot.
“If he wouldn't have gotten there, literally one or two seconds later: I would have been dead,” said Bre Lasley.
Law enforcement demonstrated their use of force tactics and allowed the media to participate in the scenarios.
In one case, a suspect wouldn’t comply with officer’s orders, and Fox 13’s Tamara Vaifanua tried to de-escalate the situation.
“We’re just trying to keep things calm here and make sure we get you safely to where you need to be. We’re just trying to do our job,” said Vaifanua.
In another scenario, an officer shoots at a suspect wielding a knife.
Before police decide if a situation requires force, they assess the threat.
“In that, we train the practicals of it: is my life in immediate danger? Or someone else's life in immediate danger?” said Sgt. Michael Burbank with the SLCPD training unit.
While some officer involved shootings have been under scrutiny, Burbank says they rely on court rulings, police policies and state law to determine if officers use of force is excessive or appropriate.
“Sometimes what I think people do tend to miss, is just the gravity of the situation,” said Burbank. “It's very easy to watch a video right and say I would have done this, I would have done x, y and z.”
Burbank stresses that officers are trained to exhaust all their options – before they resort to deadly force.
“It’s impactful. It’s not something we take lightly and do without thought or concern.”
The use of force training is part of the Salt Lake City Police Citizen’s Academy. If you’re interested in attending, click here: