Path Home Shows 2016 Show Archive March 2016 Show 1613 Shoot to Stop, Not to Kill

Shoot to Stop, Not to Kill

Value Added: A first-hand look inside an Oklahoma CLEET program shows what it takes to wear an officer’s badge.
Shoot to Stop, Not to Kill

Shoot to Stop, Not to Kill

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Show Details

Show 1613: Shoot to Stop, Not to Kill
Air Date: March 27, 2016



Rob McClendon: Well, there was a time in Oklahoma when becoming a police officer meant about three weeks of training learning how to fill out reports and to shoot a gun. Today, that training has grown to 15 weeks to prepare for a career that constantly faces new threats. We traveled to Ada, Oklahoma, to the Council on Law Enforcement Education and Training, commonly referred to as CLEET, to get a first-hand look at what it takes to put on a badge here in Oklahoma.

[Gun shots].

Rob: On a hot July afternoon, these police cadets aren’t too worried about the sweat rolling down their backs.

[Gun shots].

Rob: Set to graduate in just a few days, the cadets are trying to learn all they can.

Vince O’Neill: Well, it’s life and death important, that’s what it is.

Rob: O’Neill is the range master at the CLEET shooting range, one of many instructors that try to impart years of experience to new recruits.

[Gun shots].

Rob: Today, it’s how best to use their weapon.

O’Neill: Understand that the more you can control your personal weapon system or your car or your behavior, the better off you’re going to be. In other words, if I can master a tool, in a moment of crisis that particular mastery will be at the subconscious level, so when I need it it’ll be there without me even having to worry about it.

Male Voice: Fire three rounds at the chest in 2-1/2 seconds.

Rob: Split-second decisions that can mean the difference between life or death. Now, in addition to the work that’s being done out on the firing range, cadets also come in here to a training facility where they are faced with real-life situations, only on a video screen here behind me. Here they may not be using real bullets, but they will be facing real-life situations. To give you some idea of what they may face, I strapped a small camera on my chest and went through the exercise.

[Training simulation sounds].

O’Neill: I think he got you, Rob!

Rob: I think I’ve been got.

Male Voice: Sir, put the shotgun down! Do it now!

Rob: Bill Bullard runs the video simulation room.

Bill Bullard: We shoot to stop and threat; we don’t shoot to kill. That’s, we’re not a judge, jury and executioner; we shoot to stop ‘em.

Rob: Learning when to use lethal force and when not to is vital for an officer that never knows what’s around the next corner.

Male Voice: Ma’am, back away! Step away!

[Woman crying].

Step away!

Bullard: As part of the training officers do out there is to continue fighting if they get shot. You know, we’ve actually got a drill that they use so if they’re shot in the arm and their arm’s disabled, we teach them how to shoot with another, with the other hand.

Rob: Preparation that starts in the classroom.

Shannon Butler: This is how we’re gonna collect a latent print.

Rob: Cadets learn a variety of skills, some simple, some complex, but all necessary.

Bullard: No matter how well you do your job, you have to be able to articulate why you did what you did and when you did what you did, and the only way they can do that is through a police report.

Rob: Shannon Butler is the coordinator of the academy and says they certify up to 400 peace officers each year, many from smaller rural departments.

Butler: They come in, they pour their heart and soul into it. They will take out of it exactly what they put into it.

Rob: Hands on experience --

Male voice: A little bit of a palm print, too; you did a good one there.

Rob: -- both in and outside the classroom.

Tracey Shivers: And so we get them out of the classroom and move ’em out here so that they, they hands-on get to see what it’s like to work a real crime scene. And that’s when their brains really start working, and questions come up, and they really start understanding the little details, the little things of what makes or breaks a case.

[Siren sounds].

Rob: And keeps them safe. On the driving range, cadets learn the art of the pursuit, a careful balance between catching the bad guy and not endangering others.

Jeff Coble: Well, the main thing we try to teach police officers is this: It’s not about speed, it’s about control. It’s about being able to control your emotions, being able to control the vehicle; and it’s not about speed, it’s not about fast. We teach them to control themselves. That way they can make good decisions. Because if they’re in the fight or flight syndrome whenever the lights and siren go on, you get all excited and your adrenaline’s up and your heart rate accelerates and your blood pressure goes up and respiration goes up, you have to learn how to control those things and make good decisions about whether to terminate a pursuit or whether to continue a pursuit.

Rob: Walt Birdsong is CLEET’s distance education coordinator.

Birdsong: It is one thing to be a peace officer and be out here and be rough and tough and tumble and all of those things that you have to be, but there are times, especially when emotions involved, when a child has been killed or a mother, a mother has been killed and now a child has lost a parent, the officer is charged with making those notifications to them. And so there’s a very personal human element that’s involved in that. And so one of the things we teach these young cadets here is to, how to do that tactfully and respectfully for the families.

Rob: And it’s training that doesn’t end on graduation day. Each year, peace officers in Oklahoma receive 25 hours of continuing education.

Birdsong: Currently, what we’re doing is, we’ll go to one location, and currently that is in Stillwater at the state office of CareerTech, we’ll put on a class there and broadcast that class through the Internet around to various locations throughout the state and currently those are all CareerTech locations. I believe we have between 20 and 30 CareerTechs that are partners with us currently, and it is a very effective tool.

Rob: Giving Oklahoma peace officers the tools and the training to protect and to serve.

Birdsong: But these folks that come through here do that; they genuinely go back, they make a difference in other people’s lives. The thing that we do for them is we take those experiences that we’ve had, the knowledge that we have, and we impart that on them so that when they go back and make those experiences, those milestones if you will, in people’s lives that they’re positive.