FORT VALLEY, Georgia (41NBC/WMGT) – After two fatal police shootings — both caught on video, both sparking outrage across the country — one top cop in Fort Valley says it’s important officers and residents know the appropriate use of force when assessing situations.
“This is something that’s troubling to me as a father,” Public Safety Director Lawrence Spurgeon said. “I’m sure it’s troubling to to other people. It’s troubling to me as a law enforcement officer.”
He says two recent high profile police shootings should be message to all law enforcement to reassess how they train officers.
“Every time we have one of these incidents, it makes it harder for my guys to do their job and it makes it harder for me to get that trust from my citizen base,” Spurgeon said.
The fatal shootings in Louisiana and Minnesota were recorded have caused many people and protestors to ask question — why?
“Any use of force by a law enforcement officer should take into account the severity of the crime or the issue, whether the suspect poses an immediate threat to the officers and to others, whether he’s actively resisting arrest or whether he’s trying to escape,” Spurgeon said, glancing over specific notes.
While Spurgeon wouldn’t critique or comment on either case specifically regarding protocol or what the officers should or shouldn’t have done, he says it’s important officers are clear and direct when dealing with a conflict.
“You don’t want to say don’t move, hand me your license,” he said.
Spurgeon is asking for a change in law enforcement, developing what he calls cultural awareness.
“There has to be inclusion. There has to be diversity, not only in the lower levels, but there has to be diversity in the upper ranks,” he said.
He adds that’s the only way situations will get better.
“The last thing you want to do, as a peace keeper, is to escalate the situation,” Spurgeon said.
He says it’s difficult to define what officers should do in certain situations, but there is a process in training personnel on deescalating a problem before it’s too late.