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Training helps Oklahoma City police keep ahead of suspected criminals

During the 28-week Oklahoma City police academy, recruits learn self-defense and control techniques meant to keep officers — and the people they're trying to control — safe, Chief Bill Citty said. On the streets, officers sometimes have to make split-second decisions on how to apply force.
by Juliana Keeping Modified: October 19, 2012 at 11:57 pm •  Published: October 21, 2012

“If I hadn't done it specifically, like I was trained in control and defensive tactics, he would have been able to loosen his grip, spin away from me and possibly gain a position of advantage,” said Cornman, who patrolled in southeast Oklahoma City for eight years before embarking on his current assignment in police training.

Training requirements

The Council on Law Enforcement Education and Training, which sets Oklahoma's standards for law officers, requires 65 hours of defensive training for new recruits. The Oklahoma City Police Department provides 78 hours for its cadets.

It's a key part of the training cadets receive in the 28-week police academy, Citty said.

“These types of tactics could mean the difference in the life and death of that officer,” Citty said.

Officers learn nonlethal tactics in areas like ground fighting, how to respond to assaults, how to handcuff properly and how to block.

On the streets, officers have to quickly assess what kind of force is necessary to take a person into custody.

“The tactics they use are there to keep them from getting hurt, as well as the person they're trying to control,” Citty said.

The training has become especially important as criminals improve their own methods of fighting, said Steve Emmons, director of CLEET, pointing to a rise in the popularity of mixed martial arts as an example.

“Officers have to respond to people who may be skilled at some kind of fighting techniques,” Emmons said.

The training continually evolves; Oklahoma City instructors learn new methods every year, Nelson said.

Instructors for defensive tactics have at least two years of experience on a police force. They undergo instruction from CLEET and an apprenticeship, followed by annual training from the Oklahoma City police, Emmons said.

About 15 officers are pulled from regular duty during the 10-day course to teach defensive tactics, Citty said.