Wilmington Police Department will soon make changes to their Use of Force Training

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Officers will now annually undergo at least 6½ hours of training in how to deal with mental health encounters, the use of force and de-escalation, according to a recent Delawareonline.com article written by Esteban Parra of The News Journal. These changes are being made to improve outcomes with individuals suffering from mental health issues and ultimately decrease the use of force unless absolutely required.

The change in policy is part of a $1.5 million settlement between the city and the family of Jeremy “Bam” McDole, who was fatally shot in 2015, by four Wilmington police officers. In addition to the money, the agreement called for updating police training and improving the department’s use-of-force policy to be more in line with Seattle’s, which addresses de-escalation procedures. Last year, a Seattle Police Department’s Crisis Intervention Program report showed arrests and use-of-force to be a rare occurrence when officers dealt with persons in crisis, using force in less than 2 percent of the approximately 9,300 crisis responses in the city from 2014 to 2015.  Parra, Esteban. “Wilmington Police’s Use-of-Force Tactics Taking Shape.” Delawareonline. The News Journal, 08 Mar. 2017.

Attorney General Matt Denn called for reforms to the Wilmington Police Department’s noting that there were “serious deficiencies” in the training of officers for use of force and their preparedness for crisis situations.  He also suggested Wilmington review use-of-force policies that had been adopted by Seattle and Cleveland police departments.  “In Delaware, a police officer doesn’t have to prove the use of deadly force was actually necessary to protect the officer against death or serious physical injury,” according to Denn’s report in May. “All (the officer) must show is that he believed that to be the case at the time that he used deadly force, whether that belief was reasonable or unreasonable.” (Parra, Delawareonline.com)

Having improved training can having very meaningful in the line of duty.  Having the tools to effectively respond to situations that may require the use of force can absolutely improve outcomes.

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Written By: Jeff (LEFTA Systems)

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