Pennsylvania State Police invited KDKA to an open session that revealed their own training and procedures. KDKA's Andy Sheehan was there and has more.
KYM GABLE: Police use of deadly force. It's under intense scrutiny lately. When is a police involved shooting justifiable and legal under the law?
KEN RICE: Today the Pennsylvania State Police invited us to an open session revealing their own training and procedures. KDKA Investigator Andy Sheehan was there.
ANDY SHEEHAN: Lethal force. When should police use it and when should they not? The State Police invited us to a session here to view their own training and put us in the shoes of the troopers.
- Drop your gun. Drop the gun.
ANDY SHEEHAN: Shoot, don't shoot. In this use of force simulator, Trooper Tristan Tapi unloads a plastic service revolver on a man holding up this convenience store. Had she not, according to the simulator, the suspect would have shot the store clerk.
- So the officer acted correctly.
- The officer acted correctly in that scenario.
BART LEMANSKY: Police officers are forced to make split second decisions during rapidly evolving, intense interpersonal encounters.
ANDY SHEEHAN: It's all part of a session held by the State Police Use of Force Specialists, designed to make the public aware of the pressure police are under in these situations, and their rights under the law to protect themselves and others.
TIMOTHY FETZER: Ultimately with the hope of providing some better understanding out there as to what police officers do, what-- they're-- how they're trained and legally what they're governed by.
ANDY SHEEHAN: In a time when police use of force is under intense public scrutiny, State Police invited lawyers, judges and members of the media to take a look at their own training. While referencing new methods such as de-escalation and non-lethal alternatives, the presenters showed videos of incidents when those methods failed.
Instead, they hammered a few key points. That citizens never have the right to resist arrest, officers do have the right to use lethal force to protect their life and the lives of others, and life and death decisions are sometimes made in quick ticks of time.
BART LEMANSKY: It's easy with hindsight attribution to say could-a, would-a, should-a. Here's what would have been the optimal approach to solve this, but you did this.
It doesn't matter what would have been optimal. What matters is, what did the police officer do. Was it objectively reasonable or was it not?
ANDY SHEEHAN: The State Police contend that the vast majority of police involved shootings are justifiable and pass legal muster, but they make that case at a time when large segments of the public are demanding a higher standard. Despite sessions like this one, that debate will continue. Reporting in Monroeville. Andy Sheehan, KDKA News.