Mississippi law enforcement training aims to prevent trigger-happy officers

Updated: Oct. 14, 2019 at 8:04 PM CDT
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JACKSON, Miss. (WLBT) - At the Mississippi Law Enforcement Officers’ Training Academy, Lt. Col. Thomas Tuggle is working to put the training into officers that will help them know when to shoot, and when not to.

While that kind of training has always been offered -- it’s a structured, physical, disciplined approach -- it comes up now after a woman was killed inside her own home by an officer who appears to have not made himself known and allegedly shot her through a window.

RELATED: Texas officer charged with murder, resigns after shooting

At MLEOTA, officers are put through that kind of drill enough that their instinct and their body memory is hopefully written in stone by the time they leave.

“In an incident like we were witnessing here, our students go through scenarios like that on a number of occasion and we point out where the mistakes were," Tuggle said. "And then we run it through, run it through, until it’s second nature, and that’s why we want these people to realize when they come through here that your decisions are pretty serious, you have to really think about the actions that are involved in what you’re about to do.”

Tuggle wouldn’t try to break down for us what he thinks went wrong in Ft. Worth, simply saying that he couldn’t criticize because he wasn’t there, but he said that’s why he trains his officers so hard.

“Coming here is a shock to a lot of these kids, they want to know why they have to do certain things and you have to let them know that their decisions will affect more than just them,” he said.

Body memory from video games is another challenge. Tuggle says this generation comes in with a lot of gaming experience, where you shoot without warning and then get to try again.

Tuggle said that has to be trained out of them, and that comes with practical application training.

“With this generation that’s coming through now, the majority of these kids, the only practical application they’ve ever experienced is video game,” he said. “We’ve seen that happen, come through here and put them through practical application and watch them respond. Then we make a correction after the application is over.”

“So it’s been a repetition thing, and in the video games you get a do over, but in our profession dealing with what we deal with, we don’t get a chance to do a do over, especially when deadly force is involved,” Tuggle concluded.

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