BALTIMORE (WJZ) — Threats, stress, life or death decisions.
Alex DeMetrick reports, Baltimore Police are sharing their deadly force training with the public.
Last May in Baltimore, a man pointed a handgun at his officer in his police car. The officer fired. As it turned out, the suspect’s gun was not loaded.
However, “the fact that the gun was not loaded doesn’t change the threat that was perceived,” BPD spokesman T.J. Smith said.
Threats can come out of nowhere. Judging how to respond, while under mounting stress, is something officers are trained to handle.
“We put our trainees and our officers through this stressful training in order to cope with those situations,” says Lt. Sean Brown.
There’s a room at the city’s police academy where those situations play out. The guns only fire compressed air, but the video scenarios mimic real life ones.
“You observe an individual walking through a neighborhood who you know fits the description of somebody wanted in connection with a homicide,” Sgt. Robert Corso says during a training session. “You are then stopping to engage that individual.”
When the video plays, a man pulls his driver’s license out of his pocket. “It says it right on there, man, it’s my house. You can check it out if you want.”
Baltimore City Police are making some changes to training in the hopes of reducing incidents of deadly force.
“And a lot of that has to do with communication, de-escalation, the use of less lethal tools,” says Commissioner Kevin Davis.
“All situations don’t necessarily encounter deadly force,” Lt. Brown says. “We can wait for back-up. We can take up positions of cover, give strong verbal warnings.”
This evening, Baltimore Police will allow members of the public to place themselves in those simulated situations.