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Law enforcement trained to make split second decisions - KTBS.com - Shreveport, LA News, Weather and Sports

Law enforcement trained to make split second decisions

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SHREVEPORT, La -

It's a split second that could change lives forever.

The moment when a call for medical help turns into a call for police back-up.

"Our primary goal and the purpose of our job is to protect life and property."

SFD Chief of Training Louis Johnson says firefighters and paramedics don't respond to potentially violent situations unless law enforcement is already on the scene.

"But sometimes a run that was not violent has the potential to become violent."

A run like the one Tuesday night on Americana Drive in Shreveport.

EMS was called because 58-year-old John Shepherd was having difficulty breathing and suffering from an altered level of consciousness.

Officials say he became combative, grabbing a knife, and advancing on police officers who'd been called to the scene.

One of those officers, Phillip Tucker, fired a single shot, hitting Shepherd in the upper body and killing him.

"It's a decision-making training that we put the guys through, where we make them have to make split-second decisions."

Cpl. Rodney Horton is a Firearms Instructor at the Shreveport Police Academy.

He says 70 to 90 hours of their 16 week training period is spent in the firing range.

The indoor range includes moving targets, dimmed lights, and blue & red flashing police lights as potential distractions during training.

"Use of force is also included in that training."

But learning to how pull a trigger is usually the easy part. It's teaching a new officer 'when' that can be a challenge.

"The officer has to perceive or have a reasonable belief that he or someone else is going to receive great bodily injury or death," Horton says.

All uniformed Shreveport Police officers that respond to calls are equipped with tasers, but whether deadly force is used depends on the officer's perception of danger.

Police officers are trained to shoot center mass of a target, but often that target - or the officer - is moving.

9-1-1 communications officers also undergo continuous training for handling challenging calls.

These calls can involve children, the elderly, the hearing impaired, and even suicidal callers.

Dispatchers are trained to try and gain the trust of the caller, especially in an unstable situation.

Officer Phillip Tucker remains on routine administrative leave while the shooting is under investigation.

Tucker was hired by the department in 2009.

The case will ultimately be reviewed by the Caddo Parish District Attorney.

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