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Minnesota West Community and Technical College program teaches law enforcement how to use the force

August 30, 2012
By Steve Browne , Marshall Independent

MINNEOTA?-?Minnesota West Community and Technical College had re-certification training in use-of-force tactics for law enforcement officers in Minneota earlier this week.

Calvin Hanson, a former police officer in Brooten, retired when his town's police force disbanded in 2006, but he still attends training to keep up his skills and certification.

"I enjoy staying up on things, as long as my health is good," Hanson said.

Article Photos

Photo by Steve Browne
Minneota police officer Alisa Lightfoot practices with a Taser at use-of-force qualification training given by Minnesota West Community and Technical College in Minneota on Monday.

When Hanson started his career in 1969, the little town in Stearns County did not provide radios or equipment. Officers used their own cars and bought their own gas.

"They gave us a badge and paid by the night," Hanson said.

Things have changed since then, and now Minnesota West brings specialized law enforcement training to rural police departments that could not otherwise afford their own training.

Training for the 11 participants consisted in review of use of Taser and chemical agents and a lot of empty-hand restraint and control tactics.

"By law we have to do what's needed to effect the arrest and what's necessary to do so," said John Meece, an officer with the Lower Sioux Community Police Department.

However, officers are limited only to what's necessary and trained not to use force considered excessive, or a routine arrest might turn violent suddenly if a suspect decides to resist.

"I've had guys I thought for sure were going to go off on me submit quietly, and guys I thought would come along quietly go crazy on me, you never know," said Kevin Eckhoff, a professional trainer in police defensive tactics.

Eckhoff teaches a system called PPCT (Pressure Point Control Tactics) that originated with a St. Louis police officer Bruce Siddle. The system is based on research into stress factors and how stress affects an officer's cognitive abilities and motor skills, according to Eckhoff.

Empty-hand skills, Taser and chemical agents are all part of what's called the force continuum, or appropriate level of force to meet any given situation.

"You use hand-to-hand in a progressive state," said Westbrook Police Chief Alan Wahl. "You don't always go to chemical agents or Taser. Sometimes you need control techniques to take them down and cuff them."



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