‘We’re not going to allow bystanding:’ Kissimmee police officers required to deescalate situations

Officers go through annual peer intervention training

‘We’re not going to allow bystanding:’ Kissimmee police officers required to deescalate situations
‘We’re not going to allow bystanding:’ Kissimmee police officers required to deescalate situations

KISSIMMEE, Fla. – As recent protests are sparking a national conversation around police training, the Kissimmee Police Department is sharing how it trains its officers to intervene and deescalate situations.

Chief Jeffrey O'Dell said every officer goes through peer intervention training when they are hired and they are retrained every year.

He said he will not allow his officers to stand on the side and watch when they see another officer crossing the line.

“We’re not going to allow bystanding anymore,” O’Dell said.

O'Dell said he started the intervention training in 2016 after he said he noticed a trend of officers and misconduct, both locally and nationally.

During the training, officers watch videos of real-life situations, as well as scripted scenarios. They go over the interactions frame by frame to learn how they should react.

“It’s important because we can stop a video at the moment when maybe the conversation was getting heated or you could see they’re getting agitated and we said, ‘There’s an opportunity now to intervene,’” O’Dell said.

He said any officer can step in and intervene, including on a commanding officer.

"They have an affirmative duty to intervene and I've given permission for anybody, so the newest officer could intervene on my behalf," O'Dell said.

The chief said his officers have used the training in situations. Afterwards he said they review the situation and determine the best course of action.

He said the goal is to deescalate situations, unlike what happened in the case of George Floyd as three other officers stood by and did not intervene as another kept his knee pinned to Floyd’s neck. Those four officers are facing charges in Floyd’s death.

"It is ultimately to protect somebody from getting hurt and God forbid losing their life," O'Dell said. "We absolutely require and I'm confident that our officers would step in and stop that behavior."

News 6 contacted other Central Florida law enforcement agencies to find out if they have peer intervention policies:

Brevard County Sheriff's Office

Employees will observe and obey federal and state laws, local ordinances, rules and regulations of the Sheriff’s Office and orders from superior officers. Employees having knowledge of other employees violating laws, ordinances, or rules and regulations of the Sheriff’s Office, or disobeying lawful orders by superior officers, will report same in writing to the Sheriff through official channels.

Osceola County Sheriff's Office

Sworn members must, when safely possible, intercede to stop the use of excessive force when witnessed.

Flagler County Sheriff's Office

Every deputy must intervene if they observe another deputy using excessive force. This shall include the immediate notification of a supervisor and completing a memorandum to the Sheriff via the chain of command. Civilian employees are also required to immediately notify a supervisor and complete a memorandum as is stated above to the Sheriff via the chain of command. Failure to adhere to this policy will result in discipline.

Orange County Sheriff's Office

Through annual training, use of force training, and other kinds of training, deputies are aware they have a duty to intervene if they anticipate or observe the unreasonable, unnecessary or disproportionate use of force.

Sumter County Sheriff's Office

The Use of Force Guideline/Levels of Resistance is meant to be used as a guideline for an Officer to select effective, reasonable, and legal force options in a verbal or physical encounter. As a subject increases his resistance level from verbal to physical, an Officer may have to increase the level of his response until the resistance ceases and the Officer can gain control of the subject. As soon as the point of subject compliance is reached, the Officer must de-escalate his response level to the minimum force necessary to control the subject. An Officer must evaluate many factors when determining the appropriate response to a subject’s resistance. For instance, an unarmed, small-framed juvenile may be displaying Aggressive resistance, but would probably only require a Passive Resistance response by the average Officer. On the other hand, an Officer’s response to a large and obviously strong person demonstrating even mild resistance may be escalated to a relatively high point. It must be remembered that an Officer need not retreat to control a subject lawfully, but may utilize the amount of force necessary to accomplish his lawful task. This is not to say that a tactical retreat in the face of overwhelming odds may not be a wise choice.

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