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Indiana police agencies address use-of-force training after passage of de-escalation law

Posted at 11:37 PM, Feb 10, 2022
and last updated 2022-02-10 23:37:40-05

INDIANA — In the last two years, several Indiana law enforcement agencies have changed their use-of-force policies.

In light of a Purdue university police investigation into a recent arrest, we're taking a look at a new state law that deals with use of force.

In July, a new state law went to effect that requires law enforcement officers to take de-escalation training,

"This was really important," said Marion County Sheriff's Office Captain David Roberts.

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House Bill 1006 was introduced following the death of George Floyd which sparked protests across the country demanding police reform and a chokehold ban.

The new Indiana law also defines a chokehold and classifies it as an act of deadly force.

"A lot of times, these incidents happen very fast and that officer is having to make a split-second decision that can potentially be life or death — not only for the officer but for those in the community in which we serve," said Roberts.

Captain David Roberts said the Marion County Sheriff's Office already had a strict use-of-force policy before the bill was passed.

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He said any form of pressure on a person's neck is unacceptable for their department unless it's a life or death scenario.

That means "any type of chokehold pressure that would restrict oxygen or airway," Roberts said.

Sgt. Andy Cree with the Tippecanoe County Sheriff's Office said the agency's use-of-force policy is also stricter than what Indiana state law requires.

"We further define that as not only airway but also blood flow," said Cree.

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Both departments say dozens of hours are spent on use-of-force training whether that's in the classroom, practicing virtual scenarios or on-site learning pressure point techniques and more. They also focus on dealing with mental health.

"We all realize jail oftentimes isn't the appropriate place for all offenders," said Roberts.

Cree said more than 11,400 hours were spent on training from 2016 to 2018.

"Fom 2019-21 under Sheriff Goldsmith (it) has increased almost double to 27,350 hours," said Cree.