El PASO, TEXAS (KFOX14) — KFOX14 got an inside look at how the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives teaches law enforcement about use of force and learned what it's like to be making split-second and potentially life altering decisions.
Reporter Jhovani Carillo got a chance to play the role of an armed suspect not cooperating with police commands.
James Balthazar a Senior Special Agent with AFT said many officers are presented with similar situations. While some circumstances can be de-escalated, other times officers have a split second to observe, orient, decide and act on what is happening.
"There will always be many choices that an officer has. There's never one answer," said Balthazar.
Law enforcement experts also explained the legal standards by which police officers are judged in court according to U.S. Supreme Court case law. They also discussed human performance factors that affect every police officer and every suspect during violent encounters.
"We wanted to make sure we had an opportunity to meet with the members of the media to help speak to the community about what the rules are and what the law is in regards to law enforcement officers' use of force," said Paul Massock, Deputy Chief Special Operations Division.
ATF said a 1989 U.S. Supreme Court case set the standard for all police use of force in America.
That policy says "law enforcement officers of the Department of Justice may use deadly force only when necessary, that is, when the officer has a reasonable belief that the subject of such force poses an imminent danger of death or serious physical injury to the officer of to another person."
"As long as the officer acts reasonably, then the use of force is constitutional. That's the big takeaway," said Senior Special Agent with ATF, James Balthazar.
"In order to make that legal assessment on whether an officer has acted appropriately is based upon the totality facts and instances know to the officer at the time they used force... was that force reasonable?" said Massock.
The training event was open to media professionals and was held on Tuesday at the El Paso Police Academy
For more information about ATF and its programs is available click here.
Sign up for our newsletter and get each day’s top stories delivered directly to your inbox.