Newsnight Maryland; 586; Police Training
The. Police are trying to protect the innocent and arrest the criminal. Tonight how much force is needed to do the job. Once one town without goes and goblins and head injures hits the auction block. Good evening everyone.
Virtually every police officer in Maryland carries a weapon and when and how to use that weapon or force of any kind is often a split second decision and sometimes controversial.
Right now a police shooting case in Baltimore is being investigated other jurisdictions are dealing with brutality investigations as well. Tonight a look at how the police deal with these situations.
These men and women will be Maryland's first new state troopers of the new millennium. They're completing the rigorous six month training program. Learning not just about the law and investigative techniques but how to survive the inevitable physical confrontation.
What we train them. To know is that they are guided by a reasonable officers decision in the same circumstance so that they use appropriate levels of force and control.
Remember Robot Challenge is very important. Officers presence is very important. Once the violator decides not to listen to your instructions you have to use your verbal skills.
Chama says when you come in to your.
Physical Training Director First Sergeant Marion Foxwell tells these future officers that they will always be at a disadvantage in a physical confrontation because their opponent will act first in the truth. We'll have to react and react with a clear head and an appropriate level of force.
The biggest threat to the troopers physical safety is their very own attitude. It all begins with them. They have to approach every situation with the attitude that there is always a threat present. There's always a gun present ever seen. It's ours and if we don't know how to properly control that properly defend ourselves and protect those around us. We're lost.
Combat. That is a moment right. Remember Bobo talents. Let me hear.
And joining us here in the studio tonight are Stephen video a police ethics expert and philosophy professor from the College of Notre Dame of Maryland. Henry Belsky who is an attorney frequently representing FOP organizations and police officers and Henry Brownstein who is a professor of criminal justice at the University of Baltimore. And you can call us with a question or comment the phone number will be on the screen Dr. Bronson if I could begin with you the training we just witnessed at the state police headquarters they train for six months. Is that routine around the state around the country or is there any difference.
Training really varies from place to place there is and there are standards but it isn't necessarily going to be the same in every jurisdiction. I think you also have to realize that different. Different partners have different needs and they need to train for different kinds of situations and some kinds of problems. And the state police really train for everything. All the other state state police in most states are going to be doing a pretty good job.
What what's your view of the adequacy of training that officers get for handling physical confrontations.
Well I think part of the problem is when I think about it it is training we think about in terms of developing certain skills that are needed for particular situations. If we were to think about it as education we'd be teaching them to be able to do things in various situations so that every situation they face is going to be different and the need for force is going to vary and it's going to be a decision that a police officer has to make on the spot. The police are professionals who go into the field. Armed with the authority to use weapons to use force there facing a public in situations where the rest of us would rather not be they have to make very quick and very important decisions in those circumstances. Just training them to do things as if every situation could meet particular criteria that they learned in a particular situation in a training setting isn't going to work they need to be educated to be able to think when they're in those situations and to make the best decisions.
As you encounter these cases and you've represented officers at a number of cases over the years how do you feel about the adequacy of training.
Well I think it's probably grossly inadequate. I think the training if they get out of the Academy which is relatively brief period of time they have in-service training. I think it's relatively inadequate I think it's really more training of that you have to teach officers to operate instinctively. And I don't think they have enough training to do that.
What do you make of it Dr. Brown Steve's distinct distinction between training and education.
I'm not an expert in that area but I would think the training is very very important that it's the ability to act instinctively to to the situation and act instinctively we start thinking about the situation that's the problem. There's a physiology that happens when you get into these stress situations. They call it adrenaline dump. They call it tunnel vision. The focus of the part of the person of survival you have blood leaving the brain going to the large areas of the body in order to become stronger. It's to control of those physiological happenings that every human being is going to do that training helps you with.
Dr. Theo is this something in in your contacts with police officers and you're involved in seminars with officers all over the country is this something that officers worry about on a day to day basis.
Well it's most often officers will tell you their lives tend to be. 85 90 days of boredom that are separated by 15 seconds two minutes two and a half minutes worth of terror.
So that's terror that that none of the rest of us can can really understand.
Well you know there probably aren't many other businesses where you can kiss your wife or husband goodbye and not come home not because you're a firefighter and the fire might kill you not because somebody might have hit you with an automobile by accident but because somebody else tried to kill you and was successful. There really are many other businesses where that's true.
Let's take a phone call Daniel's on the line from Ann around Will County Daniel go ahead. Hello. Hi you're on.
I've got it all. I've run into quite a few you know many good officers but as young as 21 years old I have I have discovered that they treat people my age quite differently than they treat older you know maybe minus 30 40. They treated like Parmalee it's kind of like a punk. I know this sounds like kind of like an odd question but is there any reason that the people of my a little bit differently a little bit scrimmage Tory.
OK thanks for the question. Dealings with the public anybody want to try that.
I think all of us when we're dealing with people we use certain cues to identify what we think is that person is what we can expect of that person. And there's been research in criminology that's looked at those kinds of relationships between the police and the public from Skolnick a criminologist back in 1966 wrote a book in which you talked about something called the symbolic assailants in a symbolic assailant is someone whose gestures or language or even the way they dress in the case of the police danger and what you were saying a minute ago the situations that they're faced with they really have to be very very carefully attuned to what might happen to them. So they look for those kinds of cues each is one of those things we know that more young people are involved in crimes and it's something that a police officer needs to be aware of. It doesn't mean that every time it deals with the young person you should treat them as if they're a potential criminal. But he does need to be aware that that might be a problem for him.
What about the laws covering officers in situations where they get into a physical confrontation. Is there any in the law. Is there any presumption in favor of the officer in terms of a confrontation that somehow winds up in court.
Well I don't think there's a presumption. I think the standard is that a police officer is required to do with another police officer or average police officer would do under same or similar circumstances. The problems or the circumstances change. And it's and as the circumstances change there are two people going to react the same way.
If you if you look at some of the texts. One criminal on help police officer treat it they're permitted to have a broad range of discretion and in treating situations like this because we know that they have these problems that these situations are unique and the people are unique and can react differently. Police officers perception to him is a reality. If he perceives that his life's in danger he's going to react as any of us would react and try to save his own life. You see some somebody else's life in danger and other options life and dangers are going to react to save that life. He may be wrong but he has to react. Other people have an obligation the role and he has an obligation to react. So if you see somebody turn on him with these things in his hand as a gun and ends up being a coon he has to react to what his perception is because he thinks it's a conman it's a gun he's dead.
Let's take another phone call Jack's on the line from Frederick County Jack go ahead.
Oh yes. The picture of perceiving from your your appearance is that cops have a tough job. There's one about one cop a week in the entire nation it's murder in the line to duty and two that die from aircraft crashes or traffic accidents. That's the real killer is for cops. Compared to military which in one day. Some of those 300 people in a peacetime accident.
OK thank you. I don't think that means that the job isn't dangerous jobs vary day. Let me ask you this. In the years that you have been involved in defending police officers representing FOP groups has there been any change in the number of brutality complaints or prosecutions of officers and doesn't seem like the problem is lessening.
I think the problem is worsening and I think that's a function of that there being a payday for these type of cases I think a blundering error of law is civil rights litigation. So you have lawyers that are coming into this area and are trying to make money out of a situation which before didn't exist. So you see a excess and a perceived excessive force situation. And then you have lawyers come in you also have more crime today than you had before. You also have more violent nature of crimes. So when a citizen sees a police officer use a nightstick or target sticker or a gun they perceive that to be a very dangerous situation where maybe just survival for the police officer. And then there's over or stay behind that person saying well we can make some money off of this and we're going to put it in the news and see what the news media is going crazy building up I guess I guess sales because they highlight cases which really shouldn't be highlighted. And that seems to be why I believe that there's been more than we would say that about you.
We don't want to talk about the current Baltimore City case or try to argue that tonight and in fact you're involved in it so we can't but you're saying that the the media shouldn't be covering that one.
No what I'm what I'm saying is that number one I don't think the media can treat those situations fairly. I think what you have is a police officer gets into a situation in which he is defending himself. You go out to the public and you interview 20 30 witnesses or all say we did as he did that he did this. You had a police officer the first thing that I will do or any other competent attorney will do is say we're not going to talk about it goes we rather present our case in a court of law. We don't want to give you our story so that the witnesses can tailor their story around that story. So we remain quiet. What does a news reporter said well you're not getting your story out in the public. We don't have an obligation to get our story out the public have an obligation to get her story out and in a court room where Ministry of agency. What about the you know and so what you have here is a distorted view of what's happening because of the media. You have a shooting in the street and the first thing you have or 3 4 TV stations out there putting a camera you have people come out of the woodwork we didn't see the incident and will say we did see the incident yet people claim they have videos we don't have videos.
And yet this is all reported without any checking of the truth in this or with the allegations that I did want to ask everybody what they think about the videos that have surfaced in some of these cases and whether that shines a cold harsh light on police actions or whether it helps in some cases.
The problem with the video is is that when you see them you think you've seen what happened and you really don't you see an angle of what happened and then everyone in the retina to prove that's right. You know I once had a student who did a paper for which they bought a copy of a video of an incident that happened in Baltimore. And we sat there in the class and watched it and we all interpret it differently. And it was one of these incidents in which someone had been shot by the police. And we really couldn't tell what was happening and there were a lot of different stories in the press and even sitting there watching it. So you're sitting there you think that well you have the evidence in front of you and you're seeing it really happen. But you really don't know from that.
You think nobody here wears a badge but you think officers in general are supportive of the idea that the mayor of Baltimore is advance putting cameras at all the patrol cars that a good thing bad thing.
Well I think before they do it they should look at places where it's being done and it's being done a lot of Western states with really mixed reviews in the places where there is no sound. That's with the film. You can be really misleading in fact there are now been a couple of studies done of asking people what happened with sound and without sound and the difference is just astronomical.
Let's take another phone call Scott's on the line from York Pennsylvania.
Scott go ahead. You guys have a great panel and I'd like to ask the question in dealing with police pursuits and what the panel feels. Their perception is that Duke should pursuits be terminated if you can justify deadly force the police officer can and we think the public's perception of that is and the criminal's perception.
OK. Thanks very much. That's another whole issue.
You know what the problem was with pursuits is it is a double edged sword in each jurisdiction even in Maryland have different rules in Baltimore City do not pursuits or high high speed pursuits because it's a danger to the community and danger to the officer. Whereas the state police do permit high speed police I believe that's a pretty high speed chases. So it's a jurisdictional question. I think that if we would advance better police work more police training helicopters we could eliminate the high speed chases and the danger of that to a minimum. And I think that's the answer.
I mean let me add a little footnote to that as a as an interesting aside. The state of California now has a channel a cable channel where you pay I think it's $12 a month. And whenever there is a police chase they beep you and and then you get to watch the police chase. That's just an astounding thing to me that somehow or another these high speed chases have become a kind of. A form of entertainment. We were saying earlier about about chase policies actually the chase policies in the area have gotten considerably better in terms of being consistent with each other. And one of the ways in which that's happened is by getting people who are responsible for the chase policies to come together when they're contiguous when the counties are contiguous and say what are we going to do when a chase happens from county to county. The police are actually much better about that than they were 10 years ago.
Let's take another phone call Dorothy on the line from Frederick County Dorothy Go ahead.
Yeah. Do you usually In this vision of the 50s and 60s dumped a lot of mentally ill people chronically mentally on the street or the police getting any trade training into really dealing with the seriously chronically mentally ill. OK thanks very much.
It really depends on the jurisdiction in Baltimore County. There's a woman named Ken Ward who's who's who's very good about such issues in fact they teach regularly you know to everyone on dealing with this.
It does bring me to the topic of mental health and police officers after after five or ten years on the job or last or a stressful situation. Certainly there are officers who are better equipped to handle a confrontation than others on a given day. Are police departments doing enough to to find and deal with with those officers do you think.
I think it really is just step back further than that because there are a lot of different things that are involved in the determination of whether or not force is necessary and proper in a situation and the police officer making that decision is not just there in terms of who he is but also in terms of the environment in which he is operating which he is operating. And you know you when you talk about chases for example the whole issue of which policy to have in a particular jurisdiction says something about what you expect of your officers and will impact on what theyre going to do in a particular situation. So when you looking at hiring police officers for example looking at the selection process those are the kinds of things that you need to be considering also what kind of person are you bringing into that situation is going to have to make those kinds of decisions. Thats just a little piece of it but it doesnt stop when you hire somebody and the person goes through 20 or 30 year career and theres a lot of literature on the socialization of police officers over the years what happens to them. The pressures theyre under the stress that they had to deal with. But its not just about them its also about what theyre getting in terms of guidance not only from the department but from their peers from the community.
Dr. Vicki you were mentioned the phrase that comes up repeatedly of a few bad apples.
Yeah right. It's it's a sort of stock expression and the police business when you start talking about ethical problems they frequently look at you and say well there's a few bad apples in the barrel but we were talking before the show that that I think it's also the case that there's something that the barrel does to the apples. And again we know through through the literature that this job takes a toll on people and we know when it takes a toll and we know when suicide rates among police officers are highest when alcoholism rates are highest when divorce rates are highest when when people make lateral moves from one department to another and it's not surprising that all of those things actually spike around the same time.
Let's take another phone call. Ernest on the line now from Baltimore County Ernest go ahead.
Well I got a great man to go on tonight and all the like that just go with what you know it's more than just you. Look at the calls for moral division of Corrections and a lot of times in situations like with the police going under scrutiny now as far as use of force and things of that nature myself come under attack by so wimpy that a lot of times where weapons homie shank them out of that nature.
I've taken a punch just the void you don't be in a day with nothing at all to do the same thing and I think a lot of times in that case also said Go get it train it and remember that we'll carry pepper Mase you know avatars and things of that nature. And the training that we have built an extensive defense that that they can also use in situations like that. And basically I mean as with a lot of police all they need to think about using before you even take them I'd like Alyssa getting to that point in a lot of these instances in the news right now don't even reach to go to that point where you have to take a look toward life.
OK thanks very much. I thought I think the caller makes an interesting point but it also comes back to something that Henry said before about the difference between education and training. When people get training for pepper spray all over the country they either spray them with pepper spray in the morning and then in the afternoon they give them the lecture about when to use it. Or they give them the lecture in the morning about how to use it and then they spray them in the afternoon. Now suppose they spray you in the morning. Do you suppose you're going to be really good in the afternoon for the lecture. If they spray in the afternoon do you suppose you're going to be spending the whole morning worrying about getting pepper sprayed in the afternoon. This strikes me as just a really silly thing to do. We do it regularly across the country in police departments.
We go there anywhere is there any role for that is pepper spray successful at all or are these stun guns successful in avoiding deadly force.
We are trained to have an acceleration of force. They meet you know verbal burbled talk first then maybe major than good. And there's a general acceleration of force that they're supposed to use as the situation changes. The problem is that sometimes the situation is so much coming at you with a gun or going after you're gone. We're going after somebody else's throat with a baseball bat or or those things and you don't have the luxury of having a Mason in a bean bag in this when you do you're expected to use it when you don't you have to you have to put you have to preserve protect yourself from your protect the community.
In the minute we have left any any misconception is that to either the public has about how police officers make use of force or that the police have about the laws there I think we need to remember we've been talking about the police and their situation their stress we've been talking about training there's a lot more to it.
You have to think about the policies and how those are impacting on them. Community standards what will the community tolerate which is the community wants. I remember an incident in Schenectady New York where there's a bombing another bombing a helicopter and 540 armed police come to communities spend all day making arrests all over people come out and cheer. Then there's a bombing in another city in Philadelphia and people lose their jobs over it and people die and you know what is the what is the community willing to put up with. And that's really important in terms of who's going to act.
Hi Dr. Brownstein Dr. Thank you Mr. Belsky Thanks to all three of you for joining us here tonight.
Trick or treaters will be out in force this weekend but one western Maryland town isn't exactly caught up on the hollowing fun. We'll show you why later on NEWSNIGHT Marilyn But first headhunters on the auction block.
That's one of the stories in tonight's Marilyn this after a look at some neighborhood news. Well the. Walkers Bill's water system should be back up within two weeks. Residents have been using Frederick City water through a temporary pipeline since a dynamite blast at a construction site in June ruptured a sewer line. Judicial misconduct is one of the topics at the Maryland conference of circuit court judges meeting in western Maryland. Our proposed change would narrow the definition of conduct that can lead to disciplinary action. The District of Columbia courts could do a better job of bookkeeping according to the General Accounting Office. The Geos says D.C. courts did not account for funds and half of its 18 bank accounts during 1998 and State agriculture officials are keeping a close eye on Maryland's most hito population after an autopsy of a dead crow showed it was infected with the West Nile virus. The crow was found in Baltimore City. Transmitted by mosquitoes. Seven people in New York have died from the virus. But health officials here say it poses little danger to Marylanders. Meanwhile mosquito control officials were sent out today to inspect Baltimore and the surrounding areas. They say the mosquito population is declining because of the colder weather. One concern however is that the virus can remain dormant in both adult mosquitoes and the eggs over the winter. So officials are now working on plans to monitor and begin spraying the mosquito population earlier next spring.
In the Maryland business and AI competition among natural gas companies heats up. Beginning Monday tens of thousands of Maryland natural gas customers will begin receiving service from new companies. PG&E says 81000 customers have selected alternate natural gas suppliers under deregulation. The battle for new customers will heat up in the next week as well with more advertising and yes telemarketing calls are expected. His company had to cut its earnings projections in half and today Lockheed Martin president Peter teets paid the price. Step down today is that the feds de based company reported lower sales and earnings for the third quarter. Lockheed was happy to announce though that there's a new labor agreement with workers in Baltimore and two other cities. And the process of dismantling Hechinger is continues going out of business sales are underway at all of the bankrupt company's stores and now headquarters has announced plans to auction off the stores themselves. Bids are due November 24th for the company's one hundred fifty five locations located in 20 states and the District of Columbia.
The ghosts and goblins are stirring this weekend as people gear up for hollowing fun. But for many of the 200 or so residents of one western Maryland town this is a weekend they have been dreading for a while.
In work is Bill. It's not looking a lot like Halloween. Oh they are scattered decorations a jackal lantern in a back yard some creepy cobwebs on a front porch. But all in all pretty low key for a town that's now a household word. Following the release of the low budget mega hit the Blair Witch Project in the movie Birdsville is the home of the mythical Blair Witch.
Oh I think it's kind of disappointing because it takes away from the town flavor and what the town is really about it's a beautiful old historic village you know that's increased the traffic it has curb our children's freedom because we don't know who's on the street anymore you know we have to keep a constant eye on everybody and say. You know I'm not sorry they made money. I just wish they had changed the name of the town.
This crime is a time capsule of the 19th century weapon.
It was the kind of town that neither need nor want notoriety and the people who live here are not looking forward to hollowing. Well I think the decorations are defiant. I.
I have seen decorations now on houses who never went this far before and I have seen a lot more witches crashing at me good things than I think I've ever seen. Period in this town.
Even though the townspeople are battling to counter the image of a witch in their midst they know there will likely be crowds this weekend and with crowds come problems a big concern is the possibility of vandalism.
This historic cemetery was the target of vandals not too long ago. I usually enjoy hollowing a great deal.
However the day hollowing know I'm going to be guarding my property like most other people here.
Are you hoping that next Halloween will be a lot quieter.
Absolutely. Absolutely. I just hope this goes away I hope this is like a one time phenomenon.
It's just who's really you know.
Meanwhile a new Gallup poll suggests that more people believe in witches and ghosts these days than 20 years ago especially this weekend.
This transcript is machine-generated and has not been corrected. It is likely there will be errors.
- Newsnight Maryland
- Episode Number
- Police Training
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- Maryland Public Television (Owings Mills, Maryland)
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- This episode's feature story looks at Maryland police training and the appropriate use of physical force following investigations of police brutality in the state. The segment briefly covers a 6-month program for state troopers at Maryland police headquarters before host Jeff Salkin moves into a panel discussion with a police ethics expert, an attorney representing police officers, and a professor of criminal justice at the University of Baltimore. Panelists answer questions from viewers calling in to the program. A "Neighborhood News" segment provides news reports on Walkersville's water system, the Maryland Conference of Western Court Judges, and West Nile virus. A "Mayland Biz" segment reports the auction of Hechingers stores following the company's bankruptcy. The final segment describes how residents of Burkittsville, Maryland, the setting of the first Blair Witch Project film, are coping with the movie's popularity during Halloween.
- NewsNight Maryland is a local news series that covers current events in Maryland.
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- Copyright Maryland Public Television 1999
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Host: Carr, Camilla
Host: Salkin, Jeff
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Maryland Public Television
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- Chicago: “Newsnight Maryland; 586; Police Training,” 1999-10-29, Maryland Public Television, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (WGBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC, accessed March 21, 2019, http://americanarchive.org/catalog/cpb-aacip_394-67jq2kng.
- MLA: “Newsnight Maryland; 586; Police Training.” 1999-10-29. Maryland Public Television, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (WGBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Web. March 21, 2019. <http://americanarchive.org/catalog/cpb-aacip_394-67jq2kng>.
- APA: Newsnight Maryland; 586; Police Training. Boston, MA: Maryland Public Television, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (WGBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Retrieved from http://americanarchive.org/catalog/cpb-aacip_394-67jq2kng