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West Hartford Police Will Present ‘Understanding Use of Force’ Program

West Hartford Police Department Badge

The class will be held at the West Hartford Police Department on Sept. 15.

West Hartford Police Department Badge

West Hartford Police Department Badge

By Ronni Newton

West Hartford Police will hold a “community classroom” focused on use of force, in order to open up greater dialogue with the public and enhance the community’s understanding of a topic that has recently received a significant amount of press.

“With the way things are these days we’re all one step away from chaos – one call away,” said Lt. Eric Rocheleau, who heads the West Hartford Police Department’s Community Relations Division.

Rocheleau said that West Hartford Police receive calls after events take place in other cities, not just police shootings but also tragedies like Sandy Hook. “They ask, “Can this happen here?'” Rocheleau said.

The community classroom is an approach that has worked well in other communities, and Rocheleau, who recently took on the new role, and he thinks it will also be successful in West Hartford. “It’s primarily an educational opportunity for the community to learn about what we do,” he said.

West Hartford Police have multiple policies related to use of force, including a form that must be completed after any degree of force is used to ensure compliance with those policies. The community classroom will focus on those policies and how West Hartford officers are trained regarding use of force and will also include a discussion of human dynamics.

The class will focus on what police think the public will get the most out of, and will include presentations by the department’s Training Division, Community Relations, Special Investigations, and the Emergency Services Unit. Demonstrations of use of force will be held, and equipment will be on display. There will also be time for a question and answer period. More information is provided on the PDF flier below.

The initial class is scheduled for Sept. 15, 2016, from 6 – 8:30 p.m. in the WHPD training room at 103 Raymond Rd. Participation is limited to 25 registrants and anyone interested should contact Rocheleau via email at [email protected] or call him at 860-570-8821.

Rocheleau said that because the topic is so broad, one 2 1/2 hour course may not be enough. Future classes may be held depending on the response to the initial program, he said.

“I really like this idea of creating a classroom based on what people are interested in,” said Rocheleau. He said he is looking into expanding the community classroom idea into other areas.

The West Hartford Police Department already offers the eight-week “Behind the Badge” Citizen’s Police Academy as well as a college academy program.

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