Few things rattle cops more than watching a fellow officer fall; police say such gut-wrenching scenes, increasingly available because of the wider use of dashboard video cameras in patrol cars, can provide valuable lessons, reports the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. “When you hear an officer’s last words screaming for help on the radio, that really wakes you up,” said Maryland Heights, Mo., Police Chief Tom O’Connor.
Police departments across the world rely on a duo of former St. Louis broadcast journalists to deliver those lessons. For nearly 10 years, Don Marsh and Ron Barber, former anchormen and reporters, have produced emotionally charged training videos that often are too graphic for public consumption. Their company, called Line of Duty, sells its products to about one-third of police departments in the U.S., and a dozen others around the world. The two first partnered in 1982, when they hosted the first reality-based video series for police called “L.E. Net.”
When the two saw a video clip of a police shooting that was recorded by a small camera mounted in a police car, “A mutual light bulb went off in our heads,” Barber said. “We realized that ‘cruiser cams’ were the future.” They designed a monthly training video series based on critical incidents caught on tape. Included are interviews with the officers involved – the ones who survived – to talk about what they learned.
The producers relied on a technical expert, retired St. Louis police Sgt. Richard Simpher, to offer analysis of police tactics. “We hit them right between the eyes,” Barber said. Maj. Ed Delmore, assistant chief of the Collinsville, Ill., police, said it does exactly that. “It’s designed to give officers a wake-up call, and remind them that the next traffic stop can be deadly,” said Delmore, whose department has been featured in several videos. “When you consider the kind of training you get, it’s very inexpensive. A year’s subscription, which includes monthly videos of 30 to 60 minutes, costs $865.