COLUMBUS, Miss. (WCBI) – Police officers often find themselves in tense situations where adrenaline is pumping, and emotions are running high.
However, in the middle of the chaos, they still have to find a way to keep calm and defuse the situation.
Whether they are being sent to an armed robbery, a domestic assault, or a shooting, officers often walk into the unknown where something chaotic has happened or may still be happening.
Columbus Police Chief Fred Shelton said it’s important for officers to focus and immediately get control of the scene.
“If we come out of control it’s just like adding fuel to a fire,” said Chief Shelton.
In these situations, Shelton said officers have to serve as counselors and mediators. The police chief admitted, bringing peace and getting control of an already hectic scene isn’t always an easy thing to do.
“It’s instinct. When you’re looking at someone that’s about to end their life, your training, thoughts, comes back to your mind saying, I’ve got to do something, how can I help, what can I do. That’s where that intuition, this survival instinct because again, that’s what we are bred to do. We’re bred to protect and serve,” said Shelton.
However, while at the police academy, Shelton said they receive specialized training such as deescalation techniques to help them defuse these types of incidents when they occur.
“When we go through training at the academy, we’re put in stressful situations and training scenarios. We practice how would we respond if we are being shot it, how would we respond if a person, in this situation, was trying to hurt themselves or trying to hurt somebody else, so we’re trained to do this,” said Chief Shelton.
Shelton said you never when know these types of scenarios are going to happen, that’s why he’s in the process of training officers to become negotiators.
“I want someone on every shift to be able to respond when we have situations like this, to be able to make it a peaceful and and de-escalate the situation and get the person to some help,” said Chief Shelton.
Shelton said they often have someone from community counseling or other agencies to help them in these situations.