Following last month's shooting in which an Oklahoma City policeman killed a deaf man, the department is opening up about the less lethal techniques it teaches.
Between learning how to properly shoot, de-escalate an encounter, detain a suspect and drive defensively, Oklahoma City officers have a lot to remember. It is up to them to practice on their own between classes, or try to rely on that knowledge in an instant.
With multiple Black belts on the Oklahoma City police training staff, officers learn a mixture of martial arts-based handcuffing techniques and takedowns once every other year. They train on guns, tasers, bean bag guns and pepper spray every year.
Less lethal weapons coordinator Sgt. Kent Cochran says there is simply not enough time to enforce weekly or monthly training sessions on all of it. “The amount of time it would take to do everything that this job encompasses at 100% level would just be astronomical,” he says.
Cochran says many officers do come to the training center on their own time, practicing takedowns with each other and the training staff.
The officers also exercise their brains each year by combining the options on the use-of-force simulator. “We’re about trying to save lives and protect people and put the bad people in jail,” says Cochran, “so unfortunately sometimes a part of that job, we have to take a life to save our own or someone else’s.”
Major high-profile incidents can change the way officers train. This spring, officers practiced active shooter scenarios, modeled after Columbine and San Bernadino. “That was the big driving force,” Cochran explains, “to get our officers pulled up, to work with our fire department on how we would actually go deploy.”
It is yet to be determined if there will be any changes to training protocol in the wake of Magdiel Sanchez's death, but the department is currently working with the Oklahoma Association for the Deaf to come up with recommendations.