Draw your weapon or not? College and high school students get hands-on police training

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FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WANE) – What type of training goes into becoming a Fort Wayne police officer?
On Tuesday, area high school and college students got a front row seat during Fort Wayne Police Department’s (FWPD) procedural justice training.

The class started back in 2013 and was originally for police officers only. In 2020, the Fort Wayne Police Reform and Racial Justice Class was able to do the hands on training. Now, it was college and high school students turn to learn what it’s like for an officer.

Among the students was 16-year-old Amamrrion Moore who attends Snider high school.

“Our advisor, college advisor, at Snider knows I want to be a cop when I grow up and he was like this was a perfect opportunity to step into some shoes that I may be in for the future,” Moore said.

An opportunity that opened his eyes to training and scenarios he may see in his future. During the hands-on portion, Moore was faced with a situation of approaching a drunk person outside of an IHOP at 3 a.m. When the person approached, he panicked and drew his weapon, later finding out the person was unarmed.

“It was a little creepy,” Moore said. “You never know what guys are going to do at IHOP at 3 a.m.”

Christopher Powell is also a student at Snider and said that the biggest ‘wow factor’ from the training was learning about the number of officers killed in the line of duty. He doesn’t believe his career path will lead to law enforcement, but he has a newfound respect.

“Death isn’t something that is taken lightly, death is prominent,” Powell said.

“Many of the participants were surprised how difficult the job of a police officer is, and I think perhaps illuminate some of their thinking of how to be supportive of what we do,” said Fort Wayne Police Captain Juan Barrientes. “Certainly it’s not easy to be a police officer. We have to make split second decisions often times with very little warning, often times very, very trying circumstances. What folks need to remember is [especially members of the Fort Wayne police department] they endeavor to do the best that they can to serve the citizens.”

About 30 people participated in training which also included a classroom session to teach the students how officers can properly communicate with civilians, how to properly de-escalate a situation as well as when and how to use force.

“It’s one of those things where no one wants to be labeled. I don’t want any of these men or women to be labeled for how they dress or how they represent themselves,” said Fort Wayne Deputy Chief Mitch McKinney. “I want them to be labeled for who they are and how they present themselves out in the community. By giving them that power it’s going to tell them we give them a bit of grace and I want them to give others a bit of grace as well.”

Fort Wayne Police partnered with Fort Wayne United to select students from high schools in Fort Wayne. Students from the University of St. Francis also participated in the training session.

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