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Police shootings: de-escalating is always the goal, says Utah’s top trainer

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Posted at 6:44 PM, Jan 15, 2015
and last updated 2015-01-15 23:25:50-05

SALT LAKE CITY -- The man in charge of Utah Peace Officer Standards and Training, or POST, says police shootings are traumatic for the suspect's family and the officer involved.

"I'm so blessed that I haven't had to fire at someone, but I've had a lot of friends who have been involved in shootings and the aftermath is awful," Stephenson said.

POST training includes a 12-hour course in conflict resolution.

"That talks about body language and proximity, some of the stressors that may be created if you get too close to [a suspect] or if you raise your voice," Stephenson said.

Some Utah police departments expect their officers to attend Crisis Intervention Training, or CIT. The National Alliance on Mental Illness sponsors CIT training, which takes a week.

Stephenson said the training is crucial, but he said police officers are law enforcers and cannot be expected to diagnose and treat mental illness or drug abuse.

"A lot of these officer involved shootings, there's drugs aboard, or we're seeing an increase in mental illness because there's not enough institutions, there's not enough help for them or they don't feel they need help," Stephenson said.