Police say physical force is used in less than one percent of all encounters. If by chance officers implement that force, people can sometimes criticize them for not finding a better solution. The Rochester Police Department says it prefers not to use physical force, but officers are ready if that becomes necessary.
Training begins in the classroom. That's where police recruits learn the concepts in governing the use of force, and when it is lawfully acceptable. According to the Rochester Police Department, the use of physical force is only used if necessary to control a situation or an individual.
"We want to put it out there, because inevitably there's going to be an instance that happens and questions are going to be asked, and we want to help mitigate those questions,” explained Officer Stephen Scott. “We want to show you before it happens how we're trained, what our officers are trained to do, and the professionalism that we use."
Officers take what they learned in the classroom to the PRISM room at the Public Safety Training Facility on Scottsville Road in Chili. There, they are faced with scenarios in which officers must determine whether to use deadly physical force to defuse a situation.
"The training is extensive,” said Sgt. Bob Duff, a training officer in professional development with RPD. “It involves re-enforcing what the law allows, what court decisions and what department policies provide for guidelines. But ultimately the decision is up to the officer, and they act based on the information available at their disposal."
Rochester police conducted a training session on the use of physical force for the media. YNN producer Veronica Chiesi Brown was one of the participants.
As producer of the early morning newscasts, Veronica interacts with police daily on overnight developments. She said the training has given her a greater appreciation of what types of split-second decisions officers face.
“They're always looked at as the bad guys, and even sometimes by us,” Chiesi Brown said. “People don't realize that you're not put in that life or death situation with your job everyday. They are. They're presented with people who are unpredictable, because people are unpredictable, everyday. That's what they get paid to do."
There are opportunities for the public to experience this type of training. Those interested should contact the chief’s office at RPD.