BELTON - To shoot or not to shoot, it's a question many police officers have to ask themselves daily when faced with life or death situations. It is also a question that has our country analyzing police tactics. The Bell County Sheriff's Office addressed those issues Monday in a training aimed at teaching officers how to properly react to different tense scenarios.
"To either use force against somebody or detain somebody to get them out of harms way, all that compiles on the individual officer and they've got to be able to make that decision" says TMPA Field Representative John Wilkerson.
The training was run by the Texas Municipal Police Association(TMPA). Officers faced several different simulated scenarios including traffic stops, school fights and domestic violence calls. During the scenario training coordinators teach officers how to maneuver between lethal weapons and non lethal weapons to be able to de-escalate the situation. Even officers with decades of experience say they still struggle with knowing what the right decision is when faced with many different factors on the streets.
"Everything is different. You have to prepare for a 10 year old child to a 95 year old person, that's just the world we live in" says TMPA Training Coordinator Bryan Flatt.
The TMPA trains between 300 and 500 officers every year, and while they say this training is helpful they also say it can't prepare the offices for everything.
"We can prepare these officers and give them this training on a more frequent basis, it would probably help but then we go back to the real world and we can't prepare them for everything" says Flatt.
However both men say they hope the training will be able to help officers and community members interact positively and reach peaceful resolutions when on a scene if possible.