Missouri State Highway Patrol brings transparency to their training

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JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. – The state’s highest level of law enforcement is showing their training techniques to the public.

The Missouri State Highway Patrol (MSHP) wants to create better transparency between law enforcement and the community by allowing community leaders, media, and soon the public to join in on watching the training.

“We expect our officers to treat people the way they want to be treated,” Sgt. Aaron Griffin said.

The MSHP opened their Use of Force and Accountability Forum to the media Friday explaining the do’s and don’ts of being a trooper.

“What we thought was, we needed to let people know what we already have in place,” Captain John Hotz said. “To let the public see what our training policies are, but then also kind of experience what some of these situations involve.”

As people across the country call on police reform, the MSHP’s goal is transparency.

“We wanted to make sure, kind of a self-examination opportunity that we are doing our part to make things better,” Colonel Eric Olson said.

While in training, troopers are expected to not only participate in classroom work but also in simulations.

“When are police authorized to use force?” Griffin asked the class. “The first is to protect themselves and others. This is the only justifiable use of deadly force. We do not allow chokeholds. Chokeholds are on a deadly force and our policy reflects that.”

Instead of chokeholds, Griffin said MSHP teaches vascular neck restraints, a tactic that will not cause injury to the suspect.

Officers say with the change in society, comes some changes in training.

“We added a bit more de-escalation training with some of the hot button topics that are going on right now,” Griffin said. “There are going to be times when officers are going to have to use force regardless of how many de-escalation techniques or theory we put into a situation.”

In 2019, MSHP said they had 755,657 calls for service and 342 of those calls officers used some sort of force.

Governor Mike Parson was at Friday’s meeting.

Parson said he hopes other law enforcement agencies offer similar classes to the public.

“And this is just another beginning to really build a relationship with the community and law enforcement officers,” Parson said. “What the patrol is doing today, understand that we have to be more transparent as law enforcement officers on everything we do in today’s time.”

The MSHP plans to start offering these classes to the public across the state later this year.

The Highway Patrol has an accountability portal available for the public on their website.

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