Northern Michigan Law Enforcement Officers Discuss Chauvin Trial, Police Training

The Derek Chauvin Trial has scrutinized the former officer’s actions – and with it the actions of officers across the country. Police departments here in northern Michigan say they have also put attention and a renewed focus on training.

Jeff O’Brien, Traverse City Police Chief, said, “This is where training is very important. Ethics. Implicit bias. De-escalation has always existed. “

Northern Michigan law enforcement officers such as the Traverse City Police Chief and the Leelanau County Sheriff have been keeping an eye on the Derek Chauvin trial. Sheriff Mike Borkovich says, “It’s always easy to slide down the slope when something has happened in another state or area. And blame that or attribute that to the roles we play here. “

Chef Jeff O’Brien says this was one of two examples in his career that immediately came to mind where there was clearly excessive use of violence. The first was Rodney King in 1991. And in this case: “Derek Chauvin: clear, classic excessive strength. Had no reason to extend this power to the level to which he extended it. We all know that, police officers know that. “

Boss O’Brien says other officials should have stepped in. “When you see something like what Derek Chauvin did, other cops need to step in. The other police officers have to intervene and say this is not right. That is excessive force. “And he adds:” We are all human. We get emotional. If we use too much violence, other officials have to step in and say, don’t do that, that’s wrong. Stand back, let me deal with it. “

The nine minutes of Derek Chauvin’s actions – he held his knee to George Floyd’s neck – became a focus of the trial. The boss says, “This vascular neck support is no longer taught. I was taught this vascular neck brace. The carotid artery. (It’s) a very serious reluctance. It has only been used in certain circumstances where you can reach near fatal levels of strength. “

The boss says law enforcement newsletters and trade magazines are full of topics such as immunity for police officers, defunding the police and citizens’ oversight committees. And there is a renewed focus on the use of force, de-escalation techniques and officer training. “It has to be done internally. It’s an internal change for law enforcement. The outside forces will not change it. You will change it. But they won’t change it. “

Leelanau Sheriff's carBut it’s training that many have been doing – and doing – for years. Sheriff Borkovich says: “We give all kinds of anti-bias training. We get explicit bias training. Implicit bias training. Cultural diversity courses. He adds that in Leelanau County, “We have never seen any incidents of prejudice, bias or anything like that. I am proud to say that they do their job well. You treat people fairly and equally. But I know it’s a problem nationwide. “

“It’s frustrating that people wonder what we do sometimes and how we do it. If they are not at all aware of the type of training and the scope of our training, ”says Borkovich.

Chef O’Brien says, “We saw an outcry across the United States condemning what Derek Chauvin did. I hope citizens understand that 99.9% of police officers do a really good job. I really want to do a good job. They use force when they have to, but they de-escalate immediately. “

Sheriff Borkovich agrees. “There are a lot of negative thoughts. I think as a people we tend to focus on the negatives rather than the positives. For every bad thing that happens, for every abnormal operation, they usually contact hundreds or thousands of people in between. “Leelanau Sheriff Patch

Local police departments are working together to discuss training for the next generation of officers. They meet with Northwestern Michigan College Police College to discuss the recruitment and training issues. Kyle Rosa, Benzie County Sheriff, says, “It’s very important that we help out and know what’s going on at the academy.”

“Because of the events and the light that has been thrown on police officers across the country in recent years, it is less desirable to get into this area,” says Sheriff Rosa.

These executives agree that many departments often have difficulty finding qualified employees. Sheriff Rosa says, “They’re looking for recruits or people to take on the role just because it’s the right thing.” He adds, “The world we live in is changing so … (it is important) to stay with current events and move forward so that officers have the training and ability to be trained. And to go forward and do a good job for the people they serve. “

For Sheriff Borkovich, recruiting is not just about filling a vacancy. “We’re looking for good people with good morals and good ethics. Who is nice. And who would like to do a public service job? “

Boss O’Brien says: “I hope that through training and through NMC we have a quality, a better quality of the police officer. That’s the legacy, that’s the goal I want to achieve in Traverse City.

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