JAMESTOWN, N.C. — A mistake from a Brooklyn Center, Minnesota, police officer resulted in the death of Daunte Wright. People across the country are demanding answers on how an officer could mistake their taser for a handgun.
A law enforcement instructor in the Piedmont Triad told FOX8 it comes down to training for beginners and veteran law enforcement officials.
“Officers are asked to do far more today than they were in the 50s and 60s and for them to do that they have to have that training,” said John Ellinwood, the director of the GTCC Basic Law Enforcement Training. He’s taught cadets for more than two decades.
The program is located inside the Public Safety Building on GTCC’S Jamestown campus. It takes 17 weeks and hundreds of hours of training for a cadet to earn a badge.
“It’s 36 different topics, 36 different tests,” Ellinwood said. “They can only fail four and then you have to go home, you’re removed from the academy.”
Each course is critical to form a cadet’s ability to protect and serve.
“Every mission would be completed without injury or death, that’s what we want, but it takes that training to get there,” he said.
Courses include ethics, subject control, firearms, driving and more. Ellinwood adds real-world scenarios to the training.
“The student really understands what it is like when things go bad and what it’s going to do to their adrenaline and what it’s going to do to their breathing,” he said. “We’re very strict into making sure these people, our cadets meet the minimum standards prior to walking across that stage at graduation.”
Training doesn’t stop at graduation. Most law enforcement agencies require more or specific training. For example, the use of tasers requires a six-hour certification course and an additional two to four hours of training each year it’s in use by the officer or deputy.
Whether a law enforcement officer has been on patrol for one or 20 years Ellinwood told FOX8 the investment and hours put into training can make a difference while on patrol.
“That expense is great and when they say reduce the budget or we don’t have money for training that’s what you’re doing, you’re putting people out there not fully equipt in some cases to make some of those decisions.”
Law enforcement officers must complete a state-mandated minimum of 24 training hours annually. Most agencies across the triad told FOX8 they require more hours including one that requires up to 90 hours per year for specialized officers.