The Titusville officer is the second in our area to be involved in a shooting this month. The first happening in Warren County on August fourth.
According to Pennsylvania Statute, a police officer can use any force necessary to make an arrest. But, the officer is justified in using “deadly force” only when they believe that such force is necessary to prevent death or serious bodily injury to themselves or another person.
So, what exactly defines “force”?
Commander Bill Hale, Director of the Police Academy for Mercyhurst University, says, “you talk hands on, the use of some sort of less than lethal force like a taser then escalates into the use of your duty weapon… the firearms policy is generally shoot at center mass it is not necessarily shoot to wound… as an officer, the decision to use deadly force depends on the situation and is oftentimes made in a split second.”
Students in the Police Academy currently undergo 80 hours of firearms training and learn a specific technique if their weapon is drawn.
Sheriff John Loomis of Erie County tells us, “in all the training that I have witnessed and have had over the years, your trainers will tell you it’s not easy and you have to do it in a split second… and you have to factor the totality of the circumstances”.
The County Sheriff’s Department and other departments have its own policy, in addition to the state statute. Sheriff John Loomis says his deputies continue training on the job, but there are always obstacles.
Loomis says, “we try to train as much as we can and I will be honest with you, I don’t think any department trains as much as we’d like to”.
Hale believes the use of tasers, along with other less lethal tools, has helped subdue dangerous situations. Studies show, cutting back on officer injuries by more than 50%.