Thursday, August 28, 2014

CNN showcases WSU, Spokane PD research into police decision-making

Posted By on Thu, Aug 28, 2014 at 12:21 PM

Local research into how law enforcement officers decide when to use or not use deadly force made a CNN segment today, featuring footage of Spokane Police Department officers wired for testing at Washington State University.

WSU professor Bryan Vila explains in the segment that despite extensive police training, researchers still have little understanding of how that effects split-second decision making on the street.

“We still don’t know if there’s a connection between the training we give police officers and their performance in a combat situation,” he says.

The segment shows SPD officers hooked to brain and heart monitors as they engage suspects on interactive video screens. Some preliminary research has indicated that officers often perceive minorities as more threatening, but also appear to “overcompensate” with a reduced tendency to use force.

“Sometimes we don’t know if we made the right decision or the wrong decision,” SPD Sgt. Terry Preuninger says in the segment. “We make a decision and then we live with it for the rest of our lives.”

CNN’s Anderson Cooper also hosted a brief discussion of how such issues play into the recent unrest in Ferguson.

In a recent story, the Inlander explored some of the factors and justifications Spokane County Sheriff’s deputies considered prior to fatally shooting a distraught man armed with multiple firearms in February.

SPD spokeswoman Monique Cotton notes the WSU research has also included work on de-escalation efforts and the introduction of Crisis Intervention Team training for engaging people with mental health issues.

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Jacob Jones

Staff writer Jacob Jones covers criminal justice, natural resources, military issues and organized labor for the Inlander.