Police training important in avoiding officer involved shootings

RAPID CITY, S.D. (KEVN) - Training for any police officer is very important, especially with recent reports from the Associated Press saying that lack of training has lead to officer-involved shootings.

Pennington County Sheriff's Officers training.

"The training is important because it exposes our officers and deputies to possible real-life scenarios, and things that we would encounter on the street and it gives you a little bit of a road map of how you're going to handle that situation," said Sgt. Jeromey Smith, a firearms instructor with Pennington County Sheriff's Office.

Pennington County Sheriff's Officers train for at least 24 hours, building skills with pistols and rifles, as well as tasers, pepper spray, shot guns, and defensive training, along with additional rifle qualification, and less lethal options, like bean bag guns.

The Sheriff's Office also incorporates training from trends around the country, like situational awareness, to avoid ambushes while officers are in their vehicles.

"I think that we kind of lead in staying on the forward edge of the training-- whatever the trend in the country, we're looking at that and putting that forward in our training," said Smith. "We don't always think that everything that's happening nation-wide is going to come here, but let's be prepared for it."

A new emphasis on de-escalation also concentrates on the use of verbal commands and getting someone to stop so the officers can assess the situation.