Law enforcement officers learn how to make decisions in violent situations

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COLUMBIA — Law enforcement officers from across the state are taking steps to further their education in crisis situations.

Tuesday's seminar, by the The MU Law Enforcement Training Institute is called "The Winning Edge: Mental Preparation for Violent Encounters," and is preparing attendees for dealing with high-stress and time-compressed violent situations.

Adam Duncan, assistant academy director for the training institute, said the goal is for participants to learn how to remain in control of themselves, the environment or, when necessary, suspects.

He said police should be prepared for the predictable patterns of behaviors in which officers, suspects and victims engage.

“If we’re prepared for them, then we’re not surprised by those, and it gives us our best chance of managing really the risk or the jeopardy involved in that circumstance,” Duncan said.

The participants will also learn how to minimize risk by making decisions rationally rather than emotionally.

Instructor Brian McKenna said people often unfairly judge police officers when they face tough decisions.

“The use of force by police officers is often misunderstood,” he said. “It’s not always that clear-cut as to what level of force you can and should use under the circumstances.”

According to the Law Enforcement Training Institute’s website, the seminars will also teach topics like firearms and tactics, domestic violence and racial profiling.

Many of the seminars in the series will be in Columbia, but some will be in other parts of the state, such as St. Joseph, St. Peters and Steelville. They will run through April.