Ptl. Dennis Completes Use of Force Training

Staff Writer

The New Bremen Police Department is boosting their knowledge of subject control and use of force to better prepare themselves for any situation they may find themselves in. One officer in particular attended special training so he can help his fellow officers better prepare for their unpredictable work days.
Plt. Derek Dennis spent the first two weeks of February in London, Ohio at a use of force training course that enables him to not only teach his fellow officers the best practices for handling a combative subject, but also eventually teach self defense classes at the South Branch of the Auglaize-Mercer Counties YMCA. When those classes begin has yet to be determined.
In service training is something the department goes through once a year, and the purpose is to be able to help train the rest of the officers on different areas each member is specialized in. In the past, St. Marys Police Chief Jake Sutton has filled in on use of force training.
The learning side of the training Dennis received is something he has always had an interest in, he said. In the past, when Sutton has taught the course, he said he was interested in the material as well as having always having an interest in martial arts. When the opportunity was offered to him, he jumped on it.
“Each officer contributes to the departments needs, like firearms instructor for our yearly qualifications, officers who manage the evidence room, a K9 officer, taser instructor, etc.,” said New Bremen Police Chief Mike Skinner. “It allows each officer to contribute in specific areas for the departments needs and gives the officer a sense of pride and ownership in the department.”
Knowing different takedown and restraint techniques is important for officers to know as not every situation calls for the same amount of force. In his training, Dennis mentioned they went over different scenarios in which force may be needed.
“One scenario was drunk patron at the bar that was refusing to leave at closing time,” he said. “One was a house party that was too loud and first responding officer wasn’t responding so I was the second responding officer to show up on scene and the first responding officer was getting beaten … and decide what use of force to use on this guy: to go hands on, to use taser, baton, pepper spray, firearm; and it’s all split second decision making in the scenario training.”
That decision can have a large impact on the ending result, but in the matter of people’s security, officers are required to make a decision fast. Dennis added that officers never wish to use force, instead wishing that everyone complied with police instructions, but they know that isn’t always the case, and having the proper training to determine what level of force is necessary to de-escalate a situation helps with that.
When confronted with a situation where an officer may need to get hands on with a subject, Dennis mentioned there are several factors they have to consider. The number of subjects, size of the subject, age of the subject, environmental factors, known violent history, their skills and their condition to fight.
They also have to look at the severity of the crime, if the person is an immediate threat and if they are actively resisting. Sometimes those factors lead to using maximum force for the safety of everyone involved.
“Officers aren’t required to use the least amount of force before using deadly force,” he said. “If their life is threatened and they fear for their life, they can escalate right to the top with deadly force.”
In the classroom portion of his training, Dennis said they looked at several landmark cases that have helped determine use of force for officers. They looked at cases such as Davenport v. Causey where an officer shot a man after the man became combative with two officers. They also examined Graham v. Connor where an officer was accused of using excessive force with a man who was diabetic and suffering from an insulin reaction.
Two very different scenarios, but both real life instances that any cop could run into while on duty. Those cases, along with the training, help officers determine what force to use and the legalities of those actions.
Dennis admitted that he has gone hands on with subjects before, but never to the point where he has had to use his firearm.
“I observed that he didn’t have any weapons or anything in his hands so I just initiated take down and put him on the ground to restrain him with handcuffs and take him into custody but as far as will I ever have to use it, I don’t know,” he said.