ARKANSAS (KNWA/KFTA) — The Arkansas Law Enforcement Training Academy said there are extensive training requirements for all Arkansas law enforcement officials.
On Sunday, two Crawford County deputies and a Mulberry police officer were recorded by a citizen kicking and punching a suspect who was lying on the ground outside a Mulberry gas station.
Since then, the video has garnered national attention. Now many wonder if the use of force by officials was justified. ALETA could not comment on the actions of the three law enforcement officials due to an ongoing investigation, but shed some light on some of the training they allegedly underwent.
All Arkansas law enforcement officials are required to participate in at least 520 hours of basic police academy training. Hours change depending on the classification of the officer. Part-time, auxiliary and specialty officers must complete at least 110 hours of CLEST-approved basic training.
Each year, all law enforcement officers must complete a minimum of 24 hours of training through ALETA.
Following the death of George Floyd, which sparked national concern over policing measures, CLEST made a variety of training changes, including adding additional reporting elements related to the separation of an officer of a law enforcement agency.
Fred Weatherspoon, deputy director of ALETA, said some of the training includes: field training techniques, ethics, duty to intervene and use of force.
“So there is never an incident where excessive force is acceptable, only reasonable force to affect the arrest at the time,” Weatherspoon said.
The force to be used will depend on the situation at hand.
“It’s constantly evolving – assessing the situation where they’re elevating the use of force as necessary to achieve compliance,” Weatherspoon said.
He went on to say, “Once that person is in compliance, the arrest is complete. Any use of force should cease at that time. »
Weatherspoon acknowledged that there may be occasions when law enforcement officials might lose sight of their training in a high-stress situation. However, he also said law enforcement officials are trained in what to do in these environments and are held to a higher standard.
However, he feels confident in the training provided by ALETA and the work of continuous improvement of the program. He said that in the future, ALETA hopes to raise the minimum standards of the field training officer curriculum and incorporate more communication skills into training, among a variety of other skills.
“I think some of the recommendations we’re currently working on will continue to improve the training our law enforcement personnel receive,” Weatherspoon said.
As for the two Crawford County deputies and the Mulberry officer, according to the Crawford County Sheriff, they were seasoned attorneys. They have undergone basic ALETA training, plus years of annual training.
The Arkansas State Police is investigating the use of force by these officials to determine if the techniques they used were justified.