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Statewide Rule Encourages Police Training On Use Of Force And Crisis Intervention

All certified peace officers in Wyoming are required to do 40 hours of continuing education every two years. The focus of the training to fulfill that requirement has been left up to local sheriffs and chiefs of police, until last year when Wyoming Peace Officers Standards and Training Commission (POST) instituted a new rule.

Now, officers have to do 10 hours of training on perishable skills. Those are skills deemed essential to the job and that require practice, like when and how to use force.

Laramie Police Chief Dale Stalder serves on the advisory board that helped shape the new statewide requirement. He said in 2015, the Obama administration, as well as the International Association of Chiefs of Police, released reports recommending more training on use of force after officer-involved shootings of black men gained national attention.

"How do we address what both of those reports are telling us that we should be doing, both in a policy format, and a training format, in a practical way? So that was kind of the response," said Stalder.

The perishable skills requirement doesn't solely focus on Use of Force, but it includes it on the list of options. Officers can also fulfill the requirement with custody and control, firearms, search and seizure, emergency vehicle operations, and CPR/First Aid. Crisis Intervention training is also on the list, which prepares officers to de-escalate situations where people are in mental or emotional distress.

Stalder said POST has always had to approve training, but this the first time that there has been specificity in how some of those hours must be spent.

"We need to ensure that across the state at least some portion of our training requirements are spent on those perishable skills related to force options," said Stalder.

Local law enforcement in Laramie will participate in a Crisis Intervention training this June.

Tennessee -- despite what the name might make you think -- was born and raised in the Northeast. She most recently called Vermont home. For the last 15 years she's been making radio -- as a youth radio educator, documentary producer, and now reporter. Her work has aired on Reveal, The Heart, LatinoUSA, Across Women's Lives from PRI, and American RadioWorks. One of her ongoing creative projects is co-producing Wage/Working (a jukebox-based oral history project about workers and income inequality). When she's not reporting, Tennessee likes to go on exploratory running adventures with her mutt Murray.
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