Aiming for Answers 2: a look at the purpose of law enforcement training and how situations can escalate

Aiming for Answers: Part 2
Aiming for Answers: Part 2(KFYR)
Published: Dec. 6, 2022 at 7:19 PM CST
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

BISMARCK, N.D. (KFYR) - 1,091 people in the United States have been killed in officer-involved shootings in the past year. That’s according to the Washington Post’s tracking system. Incidents like these have opened up a dialogue on how to train for and respond to deadly and unpredictable situations.

Monday, we brought you the first part of our exclusive multi-part series called “Aiming for Answers.” Reporter Erika Craven took us along as she learned the basics of how police officers respond to a potential threat. Now, she dives into the first real-life scenario, based on real situations North Dakota officers have responded to, that will put her reactions to the test.

When called to act, officers sometimes don’t know what they’re walking into. Some calls can escalate in a moment. The replay isn’t just a memory. Actions are highly scrutinized.

“Everything they do is always recorded,” said a BCI agent.

As Erika geared up for her first test, she said she felt the pressure. Mistakes in this line of work can be deadly for an officer or for someone else.

She strapped on heavy-duty protective gear for the sting of the simulation bullets.

“They will hurt, and they will leave marks,” said the agent.

“When you guys train with scenarios like this, how realistic would you say it is?” Erika asked the agent.

“We try to make it as realistic as possible. That’s why we use simulations, we use actors. We even use fake blood, and we have real tourniquets because the realer you train, the more it helps in real-life when that happens, so you don’t panic,” said the agent.

To handle these situations, police are required to do at least 60 hours of training every three years. That’s certainly more than the day of training Erika had.

The first scenario was a domestic abuse call. Erika’s goal? De-escalation.

“Hi, what’s going on here?” she asked as she entered a mock apartment with several rooms.

She tried to quickly figure out what was going on with minimal information.

“You have no authority here,” said one actor.

“Ben, I need you to come over here so I can talk to you. Ben, I’ll come a few inches...” Erika said as the actor shot her in the neck.

Erika never drew her gun.

“I wanted to go in and was planning to separate the two people, but when you went out of my line of vision it made me nervous,” she said.

She hoped to respond better. The next call? A burglar alarm was triggered at a gym.

“Anybody here?” she asked as she peered around a corner.

Erika tried to talk to someone who wouldn’t answer any of her questions.

“I need you to stay right there,” she said as a man emerged from the back.

“Yeah, well, I’ve got something to say,” said the actor reaching in his jacket. Erika shot the man.

“Oh no, I shot an innocent person,” she said. The person had been reaching for a cell phone.

After scenario one, she had been too ready to shoot.

“You can see how things happen so quickly and you have to make those split-second decisions,” said the agent.

“‘Cause I got nervous when he reached,” she said.

“Yes, as most cops would,” said the agent.

The first two scenarios have shown her that her poor reactions have already cost two lives.

Will she learn from her mistakes in the next scenarios? Tune in on Wednesday at 6 p.m. CST on Your News Leader to find out.