PUEBLO — “I take responsibility,” Pueblo Police Chief, Chris Noeller stepped up to answer questions after Colorado’s, Police Officer Standards and Training (POST) found a portion of training at the departments recruit academy was outside approved guidelines.
In question is the departments Arrest Control Training (ACT). It is skills officers use to get control when a suspect is violent or resisting arrest.
“One of the things I am trying to to help our officers get away from is the use of closed hand strikes commonly referred to in parlance as punching somebody.” Chief Noeller said there are times when a punch is necessary. He would also rather his officers avoid it.
He said he is the one who told instructors to amend the ACT portion of training at the academy. He wanted to add alternative ways to subdue a suspect. Things like martial arts techniques. “Where you’re using leverage, weight and other methods in order to take somebody into custody.”
A review just done by POST inspectors said the diversion from officially outlined training is not allowed. “They did what they had to do,” said Noeller, “So they came down, they inspected us, they saw that we were using these other techniques, they determined it was outside of our protocol.”
There is fallout for new officers from the two most recent graduating class. The most recent class is just graduating, so their move to duty will be delayed. Members of the previous class will be pulled from duty to resolve training discrepancies.
There is a one day test that if passed allows for a waiver. If the new officers are not successful they have to go through a two week training course.
Noeller said POST did the right thing and the department should have stayed within the parameters of protocols. He will now work through proper channels to try and possibly include a hybrid version of ACT that includes more technique alternatives when use of force by an officer is necessary.
“I promise you we’re not teaching our officers crazy tactics that are unsafe or that are going to cause further injury,” said Noeller, “The idea is to reduce injury to both our officers and our suspects.”