Advocates: Police Training Might Have Averted MO Shooting


The death of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Mo., might have been prevented if police officer Darren Wilson had been trained how to engage with teens effectively, said Lisa Thurau of Strategies for Youth, which has trained officers in California, Connecticut, Indiana, Louisiana, Massachusetts, North Carolina and Wisconsin. The group teaches law enforcers how to de-escalate interactions with youth, how to pick their battles, and how to recognize and respond appropriately to youth with mental illness.

Last year, the organization reported that police academies spend six hours on average, less than one percent of training time, on juvenile justice topics. Fewer than nine academies train officers in tactics and skills for communicating effectively with youth, and only eight mention the federal obligation for police departments to reduce disproportionate minority contact. Frank Hall, a former corrections official in New York, Oregon, Massachusetts and Maryland, noted the absence of national law enforcement standards to guide and assess police interactions with youth. Strategies for Youth has urged the U.S. Department of Justice to address the absence of national standards.

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