Aiming for Answers 1: a look at the purpose of law enforcement training and how situations can escalate

Published: Dec. 5, 2022 at 7:56 PM CST
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BISMARCK, N.D. (KFYR) - With each officer-involved shooting that has hit headlines in recent years, calls for change within law enforcement have rung out and conversations were sparked across the nation. While everyone agrees that safety is paramount, a path forward that affords security to both residents and officers is sometimes murky.

To give the public a perspective of how a call can escalate in a moment, reporter Erika Craven brings us behind the scenes with an exclusive multi-part series called “Aiming for Answers.”

As incidents unfold, cell phones come out and body cameras click on. The playing and replaying of video can help determine what happened, but hindsight is always 20/20. To investigate the different perspectives from reality to playback, Erika volunteered to step into some of the same scenarios North Dakota officers have responded to. But before we find out how she’ll react, she had to learn the basics.

Erika was first schooled on how to quickly clear her pistol from its holster.

“That goes in your holster. Practice that a couple of times. Push the button and the gun comes out. In a life and death situation, you need to get the gun out of your holster, so we practice and practice,” said a BCI agent, demonstrating how to work the equipment.

The next lesson was weapon safety.

“Never put your finger on the trigger. Always keep your finger off,” said the agent.

It took some practice to safely, quickly, and efficiently clear my gun from its holster. Erika was cautioned that once the weapon is aimed, there is usually no time to think.

“I feel like in a high-stress situation, this is the part I am not going to get,” Erika said to the agent.

“You should not be aiming in a high-stress situation, especially this close. You’re basically point-shooting,” said the agent.

Erika then strapped on an assortment of protective gear and was taught how to discharge a Glock-17 9mm pistol, the most common weapon used by police departments in the United States.

She was told what to do for close contact shootings.

“If you’re in a life-or-death situation and your goal is to stop the threat, whether to you or somebody else, it might take more than one shot to bring the suspect down. People have their adrenalin going and they might be on some sort of drugs, they might come at you and keep shooting at you, and it might not be just one shot. You may have to shoot once, or twice, or three times. Once they are no longer a threat or danger to you, that’s when you stop shooting,” said the agent.

The next step of her training was simulated officer-involved shooting scenarios that North Dakota police have been called to respond to.

We’ll see how she handled, or if she survived, the life-and-death exercises she was embedded in. Tune in to “Aiming for Answers: Part 2″ Tuesday at 6 p.m. CST on Your News Leader.