TERRE HAUTE, Ind. (WTHI) - Quality of officers, police department performance, and community interaction has been brought to the public eye recently amid nationwide unrest. News 10 spoke with an Indiana State Police officer as well as the Vigo County Prosecutor to learn more about officer training and when force of any kind is deemed necessary in Indiana.
Sergeant Matt Ames says the Indiana State Police Academy is a bit different than the regular police academy. The state police academy is 24 weeks long. Ames says it teaches you the basic skills of what it takes to become a police officer in Indiana.
They cover firearm training, tactical intervention, culture diversity, first aid, and emergency vehicle operation among other training. Ames says it covers everything you need to know to become a successful police officer and provide the best service for citizens.
After graduation, police officers are assigned to a district. They then go through a 14-week field training program. Ames says they are evaluated every single day on everything they do. Officers also collaborate with City and County police agencies as well as the local prosecutor to go over expectations.
Ames says he believes that training for police officers has improved a lot. He says the process gives all officers a better understanding of what the public expects of them.
“The most important thing about training is that if you have great training and good leaders that are running your organization, then that training will allow that individual officer to be the best officer that he or she can be out here serving the public,” Sgt. Ames said.
Ames says Indiana State Police go through 80-120 hours of additional training each year. This updates them legally and goes through de-escalation and culture diversity training.
“I think that we would be one of the top states as far as training to law enforcement. I really do,” Vigo County Prosecutor Terre Modesitt said.
Modesitt says police training in Indiana has certainly ramped up recently. He says there have been several discussions between the Prosecutor’s Office and local law enforcement agencies. The discussions are to ensure that officers understand what policies, procedures, and laws are in effect when it comes to using any force—let alone deadly force.
Modesitt says there are two statutes in Indiana that are relevant in making the determination to use deadly force. The first is self-defense. Self-defense applies to police officers and regular civilians.
The second statute is titled “use of force relating to arrest or escape”. This stature applies to police officers. Force of any kind is deemed necessary when imminent physical harm to you or anyone else is present, or if it hinders police officers from doing their job. Modesitt says this is why training is so important.
“These things happen spur of the moment,” Modesitt said, “An officer has to make a very quick split-second decision while understanding that his life or a member of the public’s life might be at risk depending on how this situation is handled and what happens with it.”
Modesitt says he believes Indiana has made positive strides to improve the relationship between law enforcement and the community and making sure that officers not only understand what they can and can’t do, but what they should and shouldn’t do.
“I think everybody has the right intent and all understand the dilemma that we are facing,” Modesitt concluded, “People need to come together and work on solutions as opposed to trying to pull everyone apart.”