Twombly: I would say that we’re coming in contact with more and more people that are much more likely to use force on us as far as either fighting with us or using weapons. There’s always been a certain segment of the population that didn’t like law enforcement or would do whatever they could to evade capture if they felt cornered. But I’ve seen that segment sort of increasing. [When I started] they were less hesitant to try to take a swing at an officer, let’s say, as an example. That that hesitancy has deteriorated somewhat over the years, which I think is also evidenced by the amount of officers that have been assaulted and killed this year and last year, especially ambush style.
People are starting to view suicide by cop more as a viable option. Especially you’re getting these people where they’ve lost their jobs, they can’t make their bills, the economic times it’s a huge stressor on them and they just don’t care about their actions.
Yaniero: Today, police officers generally face a different type of criminal: one that has no regard for human life. The recent ambushes of police officers, indiscriminately targeted for violence, may be a reflection of the current anti-government sentiment in our country. Police officers are the most visible symbol of government in any community. I believe that this anti-government sentiment will continue with the current economic climate. In addition, because of an increase in gang activity in smaller and medium sized communities, police officers have seen indiscriminate violence toward the communities that we serve. Due to the number of high-powered firearms available on the streets, police officers are faced with threats never before experienced.
What problems would you like to see addressed in terms of equipment?
Kiederlen: I’d like to see more less lethal technologies. I think things like the Tasers are nice, but they’re cost-prohibitive. So some competition there would be nice. I’d like to see further development of less lethal technology, something I can reach out a little further than 25-30 feet. Right now we have the mobile computers in cars; I’d like to see a less expensive technology that reduces the size of those things and in some way integrates it more into the vehicle. So many vehicles now have those LCD displays in them already, that being able to utilize something like that I think would be really innovative to try to do something.
Twombly: I see training as becoming an issue due to the economic crunch we’re in because departments, including our own, are being forced to reduce our budget and there’s very few lines where we really can control. Personnel costs usually make up 90 to 92 percent of most budgets for most agencies. Short of laying people off, you can’t control that huge chunk that’s eating up most of your budget. I’m seeing training budgets decrease and the problem and fear that I have with that is in this profession, in order to stay confident in not only the legal changes and legal updates, but also the physical skills that we have to utilize [like] defensive driving, high-speed pursuit driving, firearms training, defensive tactics. When you cut back training, you really impair the officers from staying proficient in those skills. If they’re placed in a critical situation, or an emergency situation, they aren’t going to be as prepared and could make. And that increases the chances of them making mistakes. When responding to an attack on you or a crisis situation, you don’t have time to stop and think “What should I do.”Your reaction has to be almost immediate. And training is really the only way of doing those repetitions to keep your skill level up so you don’t have that pause.
Continuing to try to evolve lest than lethal weaponry so that it’s more effective. Even though shocking somebody with 50,000 volts or hitting them with a projectile that doesn’t penetrate their body but obviously will cause a large bruise and cause them a lot of immediate pain in a small part of their body is better than trying to wrestle with somebody and breaking bones and causing internal injuries over a larger area. The issue of trying to develop less than lethal weaponry that is much more effective at neutralizing the suspect without hurting them or causing permanent injury still needs to be refined a little more.