On Oct.29, the Hinesville Police Department held its last class for a citizen’s academy. The “Shoot or Don’t Shoot” led by Training and Recruiting Director Dave Guy looked at the split second decisions officers have to make when using deadly force.
“I try to make this class as real as possible because it’s dealing with lives,” Guy told the class.
Guy stated the role of media has skewed the public’s perception on law enforcement officers. The current theme of white officers shooting unarmed black men constantly in the media has assisted in the negative perception, according to Guy.
He also discussed the recent pipe bomb threats and the Synagogue shooting that killed 11 people at the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh, Penn.
“Some people seem to be numb to violence since the news had become saturated with it,” Guy said.
He then went over the use of force outlined by the International Association of Chiefs of Police or IACP and Official Code of Georgia Annotated or O.C.G.A. Officers in Georgia must follow O.C.G.A. codes 16-3-20, 16-3-21, and 17-4-20 to justify the use of deadly force among other laws and codes.
“One of our biggest fears as people is the unknown,” Guy said. “As police we deal with that every day.”
Guy informed the class that officers are trained to shoot the center mass of objects during weapons training. They are not trained to shoot extremities such as arms, legs, feet, or hands.
The class then watched two videos, one was an example of officers arriving on scene and the suspect pulls out what seems to be a wallet but was a Derringer style pistol. The other video was police footage from the shooting of Stephon Clark, a 22-year-old black male killed by two white officers in California last March.
The videos were used to show the conditions officers face when encountering a suspect.
“We’d rather save your life then take it,” Guy said. “People forget that we are human beings.”
At the end of the class, participants simulated a “shoot or don’t shoot” scenario, where they were asked to identify the weapon of a suspect in dark conditions and if it was justified to shoot their weapon.
“I would like to think that it’s never the intention to shoot an unarmed individual,” Community Resource Officer Kevin Remillard said.