Taken from a Facebook Live on March 15, as spoken by Brian T. Dunn.
Would police trainings and excessive force instances be reduced if you had a situations where officers received sensitivity training on race? Well, it certainly is not going to hurt. It’s certainly not going to be a bad thing if you’re giving cultural sensitivity training to officers. There can actually be no downside to it. But the question is is it really going to have an impact?
And when you really understand this dynamic of the psychology underlying it. Just think about the fact that you’ve got a person, usually with a high school education, most commonly in their 20’s, early 20’s, and they have about six months of a police academy, and then they’re going to be let out there. And they are going to be confronted with a situation, usually within the first couple of years of their career where they will have to make a decision between whether to shoot or whether to not shoot. And what is going to inform that decision? Training can’t help but increase officer safety, it can’t help but decrease the incidence of excessive force. But ultimately it’s who that person is and what the person thinks and what are the dynamics of that individual. That’s what’s going to cause the encounter to turn out where it’s going to turn out. There are many, many many police officers, in fact the majority, that don’t even come close to even firing their gun throughout what may be a 20 or 30 year career because their minds don’t work that way. Even if they see someone with a knife their response is to gain distance, move away, talk to the person. If they see someone who’s mentally ill their response is to coordinate other resources. This is what, depending on what’s happening in your heart. Those are the kinds of things that police officers should be trained to do.
But the law does not require them to do the right thing. The law does not require them to use departmental resources. The law does not even require them to retreat. So if they really want to close the distance, if they want to make it a situation where they are getting closer, instead of moving away, the law will support that. But would training make a difference? And again, a response to that awesome question, training is certainly something that we should all support. It’s something that should be implemented throughout the career of an officer, not just in the police academy.
But what you really have to do is monitor how that officer is going to respond. And what you see is an officer that uses deadly force against an unarmed person, this is not the first time you’ve seen some symptom of that. Look at the citizen complaints. There is a saying that Johnny Cochran had which is, “A man stumbles many times before he falls.” And these kinds of behavioral traits are going to come through interactions with the community. And if you’re sensitive to the lack of humanization, for example, you’re going to see proof of it before you actually see the fatal encounter.