Use of force expert weighs in on officer shootings

The two fatal officer-involved shootings are the latest in a string of police shootings that have caused unrest nationwide. A Peoria Police Detective is weighing in on the shootings.

- The two fatal officer-involved shootings are the latest in a string of police shootings that have caused unrest nationwide.

A Peoria Police Detective is weighing in on the shootings.

This local expert says at this point it's too early to tell if the officers actions in the two recent shootings were justifiable. He says what it boils down to is with more training there will be better outcomes with police shootings.

"There's so much information that we don't know yet. To really look at this and talk about whether they are justified or not justified, it does a disservice to anybody involved," said Lon Bartel.

Bartel is the President of the Peoria Police Officers Association talking about the recent officer involved shootings that killed Alton Sterling and Philando Castile. Bartel says the cell phone video of the incident involving Sterling shows some actions may be questionable, but the cameras often don't show the complete story.

"It does create a question, if you know the individual is armed, and he's engaged in that behavior, why are you closing the gap, why are we getting that close. Again with a firearm proximity negates skill. With the closer we are to an individual, he doesn't have to be better than us; he just has to be faster," said Bartel.

In the Castile shooting there hasn't been any video released leading up to the shooting, but only afterward. So a number of things could have been done right or wrong according to Bartel, but it's too early to tell.

Bartel says a major issue plaguing police departments regarding the outcome of officer-involved shootings is training.

"Training is an Insurance policy and like all insurance policies, when you need it, you realize you should have bought the best policy and when you need it, it's too late," said Bartel.

Bartel says to become a law enforcement officer it takes 585 hours of training. A cosmetologist takes 1,600 hours of training.

"A better-trained officer makes better decisions. A better-trained officer is usually going to wait a little bit longer. There have been studies that were done years ago that officers that are better with their firearms wait longer to use them. More confidence, more ability in their skills," he said.      

Bartel says when there are cuts to funding training is usually the first thing to get cut. He says there are mandatory training sessions each year to update officers, but in his opinion, it's not enough. He thinks officers need to be training with more hands-on, real-life scenarios.


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