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SALT LAKE CITY — In the era of cell phones and body cameras, police officers are constantly under scrutiny and the Salt Lake City Police Department is no exception.
The department invited local media to participate in a “use of force training” Tuesday to see what it’s like as an officer.
KSL TV's Caitlin Burchill and KSL Newsradio reporter Peter Samore were among the local media that took part in the training.
Despite minimal training, it was immediately evident that every situation is different — even when the trainees prepped on what to expect in certain scenarios.
In one exercise, Burchill was tasked with arresting a person with an outstanding warrant but he wasn’t compliant. Not only was it difficult, but it was frustrating for her too.
“I’ve had those people you’re like, ‘Hey, look, you know this is going to happen sooner or later, let’s get this resolved,’ and they’re finally like ‘Okay,’ but not always,” said Salt Lake City Police Sgt. Mike Burbank.
And that’s when police officers have to make a split-second decision — sometimes alone and sometimes silently, with just a slight glance at their partner — that they need to increase their use of force and to what extent.
This is something officers study regularly. But despite the 40 hours of required training each year in Utah, every “real world” situation is different.
In another scenario, Burchill felt threatened when a suspect reached behind his back. Burchill was tempted to shoot him but the suspect was only grabbing his wallet.
“It would be so easy if you could take emotion right out of it, right?” said SLCPD training officer Jason Miller. “And we try to train our officers. You’re talking to the badge. You’re talking to the uniform. Don’t get your feelings hurt. But as a human being, that’s really hard to do.”
Training officers said one bad use of force by a police officer anywhere across the country has a negative impact on all those who are working with the best interest of the community. With all the video clips shared on the internet, some officers hope people will remember that sometimes there’s a lot more to the situation that isn’t accurately shown.