SAN JOSE, Calif. (KGO) --For the first time, the San Jose Police Department opened its doors to media on Monday to show how it's training officers in de-escalation options instead of using deadly force.
The proliferation of body cameras and cellphone cameras have put a lot of pressure on police officers. Deadly force can cause a tremendous outcry but behind the scenes, there's a tremendous effort going into teaching de-escalation tactics.
Every recruit and sworn officer goes through force options simulator training on an annual basis. It's called Force Options Simulator Training.
The goal is to prevent the use of deadly force by attempting to de-escalate a confrontation between a suspect and the officer.
"If I don't use force right now, nobody's going to get hurt. They might have a little bit of time to create some distance and start thinking of ways to de-escalate the situation," San Jose Police Lt. Jason Dwyer said.
Part of the training is done in a classroom setting. Dwyer invited media to go over case law and department policy and watch videos, including an incident of a UC Davis officer pepper spraying demonstrators five years ago. This was widely criticized as excessive force.
Officers need to make critical, split-second decisions under pressure and stress.
"They're not thinking myopically about force. They're thinking about giving some distance, maybe utilizing some obstacles to put between themselves and a suspect and talking to the people, developing a rapport, and hopefully minimizing the reliance on physical force," Dwyer said.
Chief Eddie Garcia hopes the public will learn that they seek options to the use of force. "What the community goes through is important, but equally important for the community to understand is what our officers go through day in and day out. I think that's the transparency, peace and understanding each other builds that trust," he said.