Police Training, Complaints, and Statistics
Dec. 1, 2015 (Mimesis Law) — Police training is different from what most people think it is. First, there is no national standard for training, it is determined by each individual state. In Texas, it is under the authority of the Texas Commission on Law Enforcement (TCOLE) and every officer is required to complete 643 hours before the officer can strap on a badge and a gun. That’s considerably more than the 400 hours I went through years ago, but police training is constantly evolving.
In California, you have to complete 664 hours minimum, but most California academies are showing between 740 and 850 hours. In Connecticut, you’ll attend for 871 hours. In Georgia, you will do 404 hours and in Louisiana, you’ll do 360 hours but you can work for a year as a cop before attending the academy.
The only thing that these requirements have in common is that they are all different and that they are all called “training.” In Texas, you’ll spend a week on the range, training with your firearms. In Connecticut, you’ll do over two weeks. Some states require instruction on conflict resolution, on alternatives to the use of force, or what is known as “Verbal Judo.” Some, like Texas, now require that officers receive training on dealing with mentally ill individuals, known locally as Crisis Intervention Training.
Dallas has recently spent a lot of time doing Simunition training (I’ll explain what this is later in the post), and how to handle people they contact.
Part of this has been driven by shootings of mentally ill subjects by Dallas Police, such as the shooting of Jason Harrison on June 14, 2015, or Bobby Bennett on October 14, 2013. The police were criticized in both cases and training is the “low-hanging fruit” according to a comment on Scott Greenfield’s post on de-escalation training.
In that post, Scott points out that the Dallas Police claim of Chief David Brown that excessive force complaints have dropped from 147 such complaints in 2009 to 13 complaints through November 10th of this year. In 2014, there were 53 excessive force complaints.
OK, you’re going to tell me that excessive force complaints have dropped over 60% from 2009 to 2014? And dropped another 75% since?
This isn’t because of better training, or a change in how officers do business on the street. This is because they are classifying the complaints differently.
It is smoke and mirrors.
Some academics think it could be from the so-called “Ferguson effect” of officers not doing as much, not engaging unless they have to do so.
Ron Pinkston, head of the Dallas Police Association, says it is because there are not enough cops, so officers are not getting there in time to catch the bad guy, ergo, no excessive force. That’s BS too, but only because he’s spinning it to his advantage. Dallas Police make about $10,000 a year less than surrounding departments, and Brown has fired some officers for misconduct. Some officers have even been indicted. So the union isn’t real happy with him.
And at the same time, two Dallas city council critters went to the Dallas City Manager, to request that A.C. Gonzalez ask for Chief Brown’s resignation. Gonzalez politely declined, basically because he hired Brown, likes him, but works for the City Council and can’t really tell them to pound sand.
Finally, violent crime is rising in Dallas. By 7%.
So Brown’s on the hotseat but wants to keep his job. So he releases stats that really don’t mean what he says they do.
First, if, and this is a big if, the excessive force complaints are really down, there needs to be an evaluation of what has caused it, from outside of the department. I can guarantee you that Simunition training in an empty school did not cause the complaints to go down. You see, Simunitions are a system that fire little miniature paint balls out of an exact replica of the pistol that the officer carries on duty. They are blue and will not fire an actual round, just the paint ball, and they sound and function just like a real gun.
Oh, and the stupid little paint ball hurts. A lot. So you don’t want to get hit with one.
Police have been using this training for years. My old department used it, and did so well before I left, so it is not something new. You get to run all sorts of scenarios with it, and to evaluate how an officer actually performed, but it doesn’t really change behavior.
And it sure doesn’t cause excessive force complaints to drop to nothing. It is way more likely that both the Ferguson effect and Pinkston’s issues have an impact over the training that is being touted.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m all for training.
I’m just opposed to smoke and mirrors.