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Use of Force Training During COVID-19 Restrictions

Use-of-Force & Tactics Training Guidelines

Overview

The administration of use-of-force training has been a challenge, although not insurmountable during the COVID-19 pandemic. Numerous questions have arisen relative to how agencies can meet their minimum 4-hour use-of-force training requirement as outlined in the Council’s Administrative Rules if they have not yet done so for Calendar Year 2020. The following are suggestions on how use-of-force training requirements can be fulfilled with COVID-19 health and safety precautions in place.

Considerations

Per Council Administrative Rule, use-of-force training must be administered by a Council Certified Use-of-Force & Tactics Instructor. This training can be psychomotor skills based, academic, or a combination of both. Instructors can administer any of the approved blocks of instruction from the classroom/academic portions of the Use-of-Force & Tactics Program, which has multiple blocks of available training from the curriculum. Examples include stress on the human body, reasonable application of force, pre-attack clues, medical implications of force, dealing with aggressive dogs, edged weapons, Oleoresin Capsicum (OC) and use-of-force report writing. An agency review of their department’s use-of-force policy and use-of-force reporting can also be part of this training. CEW and Firearms training does not count towards the 4-hour mandate for Use-of-Force & Tactics, although these disciplines can be cross-trained simultaneously if an agency so chooses. Proper health screenings of participants should occur prior to the commencement of any training.

Suggested Option - 1

If an agency chooses to administer use-of-force training in solely a classroom academic setting, while maintaining social distancing, they can certainly do so using any of the power-point materials from the Council’s Use-of-Force & Tactics program. There is more than enough to fill the required time. Academic training can include any of the blocks of instruction from the program, along with use-of-force policy review, use-of-force reporting requirements, written refresher testing and so on.

Suggested Option - 2

If an agency chooses to administer physical hands-on psychomotor skills use-of-force training, it is recommended participants wear masks and rubber gloves, limit the switching of training partners, limit individual training spaces to specified areas of the training floor and limit the sharing of equipment, such as strike bags. Frequent sanitation should also be required.

Suggested Option - 3

If an agency chooses to administer physical hands-on psychomotor skills training without person-to-person contact, they may do so while practicing numerous skills from the program in the ‘air’ without a training partner or striking a bag, etc. Proper social distancing can be maintained. Examples could include, but are not limited to, patterns of movement, empty hand defensive skills, grounded positions and maneuvers, active defensive skills, baton skills, OC use skills, etc.

Suggested Option – 4

A blend of any of the above could be accomplished to fulfill the 4-hour block of training.

Summary

There are multiple avenues an agency can choose without sacrificing their ability to administer quality use-of-force training. If an agency and their certified Use-of-Force & Tactics Instructor would like additional training suggestions or additional guidelines, please feel free to reach out to the Police Academy and speak with Jake Hansell (802) 483-6228.

If none of the aforesaid training resolutions are possible, agencies can apply for a Rule-13 Training Waiver for officers unable to attend. Waiver requests can be sent to Gail Williams (gail.williams@vermont.gov) on the appropriate Rule-13 Waiver Form, which is available on the academy’s website.