Lawmen face rigorous training

Published 12:00 am Saturday, March 25, 2006

MURFREESBORO – In response to Saturday’s fatal shooting, Murfreesboro Police Chief Darrell Rowe and Hertford County Sheriff Juan Vaughan provided information on firearm and survival training local law enforcement officers receive.

“All officers, regardless of agency, receive officer survival training and firearms training,” Rowe said. “From the time they enter the academy throughout their career, officers take these types of training courses.”

Law enforcement officers in the state of North Carolina are required to complete 24 hours of in-service training each calendar year, including firearms training and qualification.

“We send our officers to officer survival school,” Rowe said. “The officers are taught to use various levels of force (when dealing with suspects).

“The lowest level of force is officer presence and the highest level is deadly force,” Rowe added. “Officers only use deadly force when they are in fear of their lives or the life of another.”

Officers are taught what level of force to use depending on the situation and training courses are designed to fully train law enforcement officers how to handle potentially violent situations.

“Our officers go through firearm training courses on a yearly basis that they must pass,” Rowe said.

Firearms training courses teach officers the fundamentals of firearms safety and the skills necessary to properly handle firearms. Officers are trained in basic principles like proper stance and trigger control.

Law enforcement officers are trained to only use the amount of force that is reasonably necessary to effectively bring an incident under control while protecting the lives of the officers and others.

Sometimes officers face violent individuals, but law enforcement officers are trained to only use deadly force when it is absolutely necessary to protect the officer or others from an imminent danger of death or serious physical injury.

Every law enforcement agency develops use of force policies that address the use of firearms and the particular use of force issues.

“It is unfortunate that officers are put in these positions sometimes, but all officers take that chance every day on the job,” Rowe said.

Rowe and Sheriff Vaughan now know first hand of that element of danger.

One week ago, Murfreesboro police officer Larry Newsome and Hertford County Sheriff’s deputy Jessie Fennell were forced to shoot and kill 45-year old Sammie Britt after several failed attempts to place the Murfreesboro man under arrest. Britt charged at the officers with a knife at which time Newsome and Fennell combined to fire four shots.

The two lawmen are on administration leave with pay, while the SBI conducts an investigation into the incident.