Fort Valley top cop reacts to fatal police shootings

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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.

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(478) 745-4141 ext. 311 Skyler joined the 41 NBC News Team in April 2013. He anchors the news at 6 p.m. and also covers stories going on throughout the day. He was born in Brooklyn, New York and raised in Stone Mountain, Georgia, a suburb right outside of Atlanta. Before heading to Middle Georgia, Skyler worked as a stage manager for WSB- TV in Atlanta. Skyler graduated from Georgia Southern University in Statesboro, Georgia in 2011 with a Bachelor’s of Science degree in Multimedia Communication. He went to school initially to be an architect, but one step inside of the student radio station changed everything. While at Georgia Southern, he was exposed to radio and television and became the Program Director of the student radio station and was a part of a team that received a Southeast Regional student Emmy for their work on the program "Inside Georgia Southern Football." Skyler anchored and reported for Georgia Southern University's "Eagle News." There he covered the 2010 midterm elections live as well as reported on stories in the community. In the Spring 2012, Skyler interned for Clear Channel in Los Angeles, California. Skyler is a proud member of Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity, Incorporated. In his free time, you can find Skyler watching the latest movies and reading up on all things in Hollywood. He also loves spending time with his family and friends and finding inspirational quotes. He loves telling stories about politics, tax dollars at work in the community, and highlighting people and business who don’t normally get the spotlight. If you have any story ideas, email Skyler at shenry@41nbc.com.