Officers train for deadly force - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Officers train for deadly force

Tifton - Everyday, officers train at the South Georgia Police Academy to learn when it is necessary to use deadly force on someone else. Officer Jennifer Mixon is learning that being a peace officer isn't always about being peaceful. Major Ray Saxon says, "A peace officer is under the same standard that every citizen is. They can protect themselves, they can protect a third person from death or great bodily harm or they can prevent the commission of a forcible felony, that's what Georgia law says."

Even if it leads to death of someone else. "The officer has to be reasonable," says Saxon. "That is the term the courts have used to describe what we need to be looking at when we're making these kinds of decisions."

Officers are trained to analyze three elements: 1) There has to be ability for great bodily harm or death to the officer or third party. 2) There must be opportunity for a person to use that weapon. 3)There must be an overt act or threat that causes the officer or someone else to be in jeopardy.

"Simulators are used to let officers know when they are justified in shooting, and when they're not."

Major Saxon says, "We react to whatever the situation is, and it's a split second decision that's rapidly evolving, and it's easily judged by the hindsight of 20/20, but it's very difficult under the extreme circumstances."

That's why officers go through extensive training with life-like situations, so they can save their lives and others when these scenarios become reality. "One of the key points is looking at it from the perspective of the officer at the time," says Saxon, "What did he know under the circumstances at the time and making a decision on that, not what we found out after."

We still don't know why the deputy opened fire on Wesley Beaver, and if he was reasonable in that decision, but that's what the GBI is working to find out. Normally, when an officer's use of force causes death, the officer will be placed on either administrative leave or in-house administrative leave while an investigation is conducted.

posted at 6:53 PM by karen.collier@walb.com

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