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Police Training In America: How Can We Fix A Broken System?

Police officers block a road on the fourth day of protests on May 29, 2020 in Minneapolis, Minnesota. (Scott Olson/Getty Images)
Police officers block a road on the fourth day of protests on May 29, 2020 in Minneapolis, Minnesota. (Scott Olson/Getty Images)
This article is more than 2 years old.

The Atlanta police officer who shot Rayshard Brooks had just completed a course in de-escalation. Why was his instinct to shoot? We have an in-depth examination of police training.


Jamiles Lartey, staff writer for the Marshall Project. (@Jamiles)

Seth Stoughton, law professor at the University of South Carolina. Former police officer who served in Tallahassee, Florida. Co-author of "Evaluating Police Uses of Force." (@PoliceLawProf)

From The Reading List

Marshall Project: "Why So Many Police Are Handling the Protests Wrong" — "Last Wednesday, Marcell Harris was hit by a rubber bullet."

Washington Post: "George Floyd’s death shows exactly what police should not do" — "The video of Minneapolis police officers apprehending George Floyd is horrifying: One planted his knee on Floyd’s neck and apparently suffocated him."

Marshall Project: "Before George Floyd’s Death, Minneapolis Police Failed to Adopt Reforms, Remove Bad Officers" — "As video footage of George Floyd’s last moments circulated this week, many watched in shock and revulsion."

Fresh Air: "Policing Is An 'Avatar Of American Racism,' Marshall Project Journalist Says" — "Protesters hold a portrait of George Floyd at a demonstration against police brutality in New York City. Policing 'wasn't always this big. It wasn't always this bureaucratic,' journalist Jamiles Lartey says."

The Atlantic: "How Much Can Better Training Do to Improve Policing?" — "Philando Castile was shot by a police officer during a traffic stop. His girlfriend, Lavish Reynolds, broadcast the aftermath of the shooting live on Facebook."

USA Today: "'Lawful but awful': Atlanta police had better options than using lethal force in Rayshard Brooks shooting, experts say" — "As the already fiery debate about law enforcement in the U.S. is further fueled by the killing of a Black man fleeing from two white officers in Atlanta on Friday night, a term commonly known in police circles is likely to enter the mainstream — lawful but awful."

The Atlantic: "How Police Training Contributes to Avoidable Deaths" — "There have been too many lives lost to police killings."

APM Reports: "Some states training police to use words, not guns" — "With increased media attention on police shootings, and the expensive litigation that can follow for departments, more states are requiring that officers receive training on how to resolve confrontations peacefully."

Washington Post: "Atlanta police chief resigns after law enforcement fatally shoots black man" — "Atlanta police chief Erika Shields resigned Saturday after video emerged of another fatal police shooting of an African American, and as protests over police brutality and racism continued for the third straight weekend."

WSB-TV: "Officers fired for tasing college students had just finished de-escalation training, records show" — "Two Atlanta police officers have been fired for using a stun gun on two college students during this weekend's protests in downtown Atlanta."

APM Reports: "Most states neglect ordering police to learn de-escalation tactics to avoid shootings" — "At just after noon on Nov. 17, 2015, a tall, light-haired man drove his car right up to the front door of Jerry's Country Meat, the only grocery store in Arlington, Ga. He entered and proceeded to stalk up and down the aisles, quoting scripture and singing."

The Hill: "Tim Scott: Rayshard Brooks case shows de-escalation training is 'so important'" — "Sen. Tim Scott (R-S.C.), the point man for Senate Republicans’ police reform bill, said Sunday that the death of Rayshard Brooks in Atlanta illustrates the need for the de-escalation training provisions in the legislation."

New York Times: "Police Chiefs Are Finding Job Security Is Hard to Come By" — "Erika Shields was not your old-line, law-and-order police chief."

Atlanta Journal-Constitution: "OPINION: 2 cops, 80 years of policing, and a 411 on what must be done" — "On Friday, I wrote a column after interviewing two thoughtful lawmen with 80 years of experience between them."

This program aired on June 25, 2020.


Grace Tatter Producer, The Great Wager
Grace Tatter is an independent journalist and audio producer.


Meghna Chakrabarti Host, On Point
Meghna Chakrabarti is the host of On Point.



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