BEND, OR -- Bend Police recently completed an annual review of use of force incidents by officers, and Chief Jim Porter is pleased with the direction the department is headed. "For the third year in a row, we’ve seen our use of force drop significantly. We started out in 2012 with over 100 uses of force; the following year we dropped down to 70; this year, we’re at 66 uses of force. While at the same time, we’re still arresting the same amount of people."
Chief Porter credits that decrease to a change in how officers are trained in things like defensive tactics, tazers and firearm use. "What we’ve done is integrated all those use of force options into one training, and we’ve moved forward with what we call ‘training scenarios,’ where officers interact with a human being in a situation, face to face, when they have to make a decision during that confrontation how to respond to force," Porter tells KBND News. "Again, officers don’t use force, they respond to force used against them."
He calls the new training strategy the Use of Force Continuum: "What level of force you need to use to overcome the force being used against you as a police officer. One of the troubling things we have, that the public sometimes does not understand, is when officers shoot people reaching underneath their shirt, when people make a furtive gesture, one of the challenges we have is that it never looks good; it never feels good. It just is a fact of life that officers have to deal with. They know that it’s a life changing, life altering, family altering event." He says an officer’s use of deadly force is always a last resort, but admits it is sometimes a necessary option.
to listen to our full conversation with Chief Porter, or visit our Podcast Page