CMPD starting use of force seminars to show how officers handle arrest resistance

CHARLOTTE, NC (WBTV) - The Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department is starting a series of seminars to demonstrate to the public how officers work to overcome resistance.

CMPD Chief Kerr Putney says the reason they're doing the seminars is that they've gotten many recommendations from the Citizens Review Board, and the Police Foundation that cover this topic.

"We want to continue to give everybody the opportunity to see exactly what we're talking about when we talk about how we work to overcome resistance," Chief Putney said. "What it feels like in the shoes of an officer."

Wednesday's demonstration at the Police Academy was about defensive resistance. Police recruits played the part of people refusing to comply with arrest orders to put their hands behind their backs.

"The level of resistance that seems to generate the most attention from the community and the media is when we encounter defensive levels of resistance," Lt Sean Mitchell said. "So defensive resistance - when the person is not really assaulting the officer or not attempting to harm the officer - but just stopping him from getting control."

Lt Mitchell added, "Verbal de-escalation is always going to be our first response to any levels of resistance we encounter."

Chief Putney says department statistics show that a small number of CMPD's encounters with the public result in use of force of any kind.

"What I'll tell you too - is missed on most people - is less than 2% of our encounters with the public result in use of force of any kind," Chief Putney said. "The vast majority, the vast majority of those encounters, we're able to gain compliance without having to use force - and I think that's huge. That does not in any way downplay the seriousness that we view use of force as well."

"What people want to hear is not more about transparency. People want to hear about accountability," said Robert Dawkins of Safe Coalition. "That's the issue that we're talking about.

Dawkins says some in the community are looking for answers to recent officer involved fatal shootings.

He doesn't believe the seminars demonstrating use of force will answer those concerns.

"The timing is bad," Dawkins said. "The community is upset about another killing and we're wanting solutions to oranges, They're bring us solutions to apples."

Dawkins said resistance was not the issue in the three CMPD officer involved fatal shootings this year.

Police say each seminar on use of force will demonstrate different scenarios.

Meanwhile, as the department tries to address community concerns about policing, CMPD says recruits are now learning certain commands in Spanish.

"Hands up. Drop the gun. Turn around, don't resist. How can we help you? Those types of phrases that they can use in certain situations," Officer Danny Hernandez said.

Department leaders expect to to give the same training to officers who are already working the streets.

Chief Putney says a police stop doesn't have to go bad if people don't resist.

He says he's taking his message to students in middle school.

"I say cooperate. Cooperate. Have your opportunity - if it's an encounter with the police and you have a warrant or something - have your opportunity to have your day in court," Putney said. "Cooperate, record the incident but don't resist that legal authority because you're going to create a negative encounter, a negative outcome and we're preaching that younger and younger which is why we're going from compliance to cooperation."

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