The Jacksonville Police Department is continuing to update personnel training, following the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis.
Jacksonville Chief of Police Adam Mefford says training is one of the most important things departments can do when it comes to law enforcement, and the death of George Floyd never should have been allowed to happen.
“We’ve been working for several years here with our administration to revamp training and the way we’re doing things, and trying to put new policies, procedures and things such as that in place.
But sitting back and watching that incident in Minneapolis unfold, there is no justifiable explanation for what took place right there. It was just a disgusting overreach of power, and the repercussions of what took place there are going to go on for years.”
Mefford says without proper education and continued evaluation of officer performance in a developed training program, departments will find themselves in situations where officers get themselves in bad situations, and in worse case scenarios, cause injury or death in the public.
He says officers need to be exposed to training for high stress situations while interacting with the public.
“We do a lot of scenario based training here. We put officers in stressful situations and we incorporate deescalation into those situations, so when officers are confronted in real life situations, they at least have had, and they’ve been exposed to those kind of stressful situations and are able to think a little more clearly because we put them in those high stress situations.”
Mefford says improving officer relations with the public, and proper training for his rank and file officers is something he has focused on right from the start of his tenure.
He says his department has continued to provide daily and weekly training and learning opportunities even though the COVID-19 pandemic has forced all outside sourced training sessions to be postponed.
“We are still able to do a lot of our policy training. When I took over the police department three years ago, one of the first things we wanted to accomplish was to get a new policy put in place. Our policy had sat around for years, it had been on a shelf, it was written for 30 years ago police work and I knew we needed to get progressive in our policies, and so we outsourced and hired a company to write our policy for us.
Because if you have police writing policies for police, they tend to lean one way or the other. So we wanted an outside source to come in and write what’s based on best practice, based on current law- local, state and federal, and we wanted our officers to be able to comprehend those policies and be able to use those as a guide and follow them.”
Mefford says by outsourcing policy writing, it prevents the possibility of policies being written from an in house interpretation of what is perceived as right, instead of what is actually best practice within what the law says a department or individual officer can do.
Mefford says he believes the JPD have been ahead of the curve when it comes to being progressive in the training for their officers.
“We mandate that they go through 40 hours, which is a whole week long, of what is called C.I.T. Training, and they have to get certified.
It’s called Critical Incident Training, and during that week they are taught to deal with people with mental health issues, people who might be suffering from addiction, anywhere from responding to domestic violence and those are all taught by professionals, not just law enforcement professionals, but by people who are experts in their field.
Some departments have what they call C.I.T. Officers, where they have certain individuals who are specially trained. We require everyone of our police officers to go through that training.”
All officers in the Jacksonville Police Department are now required within the first year of employment to go through the C.I.T. Training, and when the program was implemented, all existing officers with the department were required to take the training, including Chief Mefford.
He says they regularly bring in professionals such as psychologists and teaching trauma informed training so officers understand different facets of trauma and how different people think in different situations.
“Police teaching police training is good, but you need to give those officers another outlet or source to provide information.”