The Peace Officers Standards and Training academy has been asked to review its "use-of-force" training in light of heightened public concern over police brutality.
The review was requested by Public Safety Commissioner Doug Bodrero. The academy is where most Utah police officers receive their training.But POST Director Ike Orr says he feels "very comfortable" with the present level of training provided during the 11-week course.
Police rookies presently receive numerous hours of training on the use of force, including arrest tactics, legal aspects of force and exposure to real-life situations.
But while rookies are drilled extensively on the correct use of force, they are urged to avoid using it at all, if possible.
"We teach them that if you can talk your way through these things, that's the way," Orr said.
Officers are taught two main premises for the use of force at POST:
- The use of force should be defensive.
- The degree of force used should only be that necessary to bring a suspect into custody.
While POST does not conduct psychological screening of rookies, many Utah jurisdictions do test their new officers.
POST officials currently are investigating the legality of requiring all law enforcement agencies in the state to give psychological tests to newly hired officers, Orr said.
POST ultimately investigates all allegations of police brutality and may decertify officers found in violation of conduct standards.
Orr said only two such cases have been handled within recent years. In one case, an officer was removed from his job and POST is now moving toward decertifying the officer.
The other case involved an officer who was allegedly "heavy-handed" with his nightstick. That officer agreed to undergo additional training and is currently being monitored on the job, Orr said.