MSHP holds 'Use of Force' forum; promotes deescalation training
JEFFERSON CITY - The Missouri State Highway Patrol held a forum on the use of force and training Friday morning.
Officers organized hands-on training sessions and demonstrated real-life scenarios. Participants pretended to be troopers, while troopers pretended to be violators.
The sessions simulated traffic stops with patrol cars and simulated weapons. It also simulated high-stress scenarios calling on quick thinking.
One large focus of Friday's forum was what officers called a "de-escalation culture."
"We train our officers to have an understanding on when they can use force, but we make sure we cultivate a desire in them not to use force when it's not necessary," Sgt. Aaron Griffin said in his explanation.
Griffin said transparency with the public on how and why officers are using force was another important takeaway from the forum.
According to Captain John Hotz, 0.04 percent of service calls to MSHP in 2019 required use of force. He also said there were nine officer-involved shootings last year.
Hotz said MSHP hasn't changed the quality of its de-escalation training, but they added more hours to the annual requirement.
"We know this is not an issue any one organization or entity is going to be able to address," Hotz said. "It's going to take law enforcement working together with the communities we serve to help improve things going forward."