Aug 20, 2014 12:25 AM by Kelsey Kennedy
Riots in Ferguson, Missouri following the shooting death of Michael Brown have captured the attention of the nation. Southern Colorado police departments say there is much to be learned from what is happening there, and will use the incident as a tool to learn and possibly even improve their own procedures.
"Its always a learning tool for departments across the nation, and we're no different," says Sgt. Eric Gonzales of the Pueblo Police Department. "We can learn a lot from what is going on."
Riots, lootings, and sometimes violent demonstrations in Ferguson have local police departments thinking, "Do we have enough tear gas if something like this were to happen?" Gonzales said. "What kind of tear gas are we using? Do we have the tear gas that does not cause flames when it's inserted into homes?"
Could they keep the peace if thousands of protesters were to take to the streets?
"We can handle it," said Lt. Sal Fiorillo, of Colorado Spring Police Tactical Operations. "If it got to be overwhelming, I think we'd do the same thing that Ferguson is doing. The governor has requested the assistance of the National Guard."
But most importantly, what can be learned?
"The real learning comes from after the fact," Gonzales said. "When everybody gets together and decides what could have been done better."
Something the Pueblo Police Department has put into practice, even changing policies after learning from an incident in New York City just last month.
"A person died as a result of being choked out from a certain type of choke hold that the officers are usually taught," Gonzales said. "So we've had directives and some changes in our policy. The officers were shown the video so they can understand and see what it was that caused this incident."