COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — Training that has long taught officers to shoot when they see a weapon might have to be changed in light of several police-related shootings last year, a veteran police chief said Monday at a forum convened by Gov. John Kasich.
Michael Navarre, former Toledo police chief, cited the fatal shooting of 12-year-old Tamir Rice by Cleveland police while he was holding a pellet gun.
“Officers are not taught to retreat, to stand down, but when they see a 12-year-old with something in his hand, maybe they should take cover, and assess, and not pull the trigger,” said Navarre, who’s now police chief in Oregon in northwest Ohio. “That’s not what they’re trained to do.”
Navarre acknowledged the change would be tough, given that officers, including himself, are instructed: “When you see that knife, pull that trigger.”
Navarre said there’s a “huge gap” between what the law enforcement community wants and what each community wants.
Kasich called Navarre’s comments remarkable and encouraged him to reach out to police in Ohio to tell them about the task force’s work and the testimony it has received in meetings around the state. That’s necessary to avoid further polarization between police officers and communities, Kasich said.
What’s being talked about is a shift in training mentality while making sure officers are safe, the governor said.
“If officers are accepted in a community, they’re safer than if they enter a community and there’s hostility,” Kasich said at the forum held at Ohio State University.
The governor formed the group after several police-involved shootings in Ohio and nationally. Kasich said he’s confident both sides can come together. A separate committee commissioned by Attorney General Mike DeWine is looking at specific changes to state-mandated training requirements.
Tamir was shot in the abdomen by an officer responding to a call about someone with a firearm near a Cleveland recreation center Nov. 22. The officer fired within two seconds of the police car stopping nearby, and the confrontation was captured on surveillance video. Tamir had been carrying what turned out to be an airsoft-type gun that shoots nonlethal plastic pellets.
Andrew Welsh-Huggins can be reached on Twitter at https://twitter.com/awhcolumbus.
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