Memphis Police Director: ‘Room to revise’ officer training, ‘nothing more important’ than firearms training

MPD Director: ‘Room to revise’ officer training, ‘nothing more important’ than firearms training

MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WMC) - Activists and community members continue to call for changes to policing across the country, including more de-escalation training for officers.

In Memphis, Memphis Police Director Mike Rallings told the WMC Action News 5 Investigators that there is room for improvement.

“We have revised our policies regarding de-escalation,” said Dir. Rallings. “We see some more room to continue to revise training.”

“What does de-escalation training look like right now," asked WMC Investigator Jessica Jaglois. “How many hours do you train your officers on de-escalation versus how to be proficient with their weapons?”

“I am a firearms instructor. There is nothing more than a police officer would do that is more vital and important than to learn how to properly use their firearm,” he said.

Rallings said officers-in-training typically spend four weeks, or 160 hours, at the Firearms Training Unit.

About 16 hours are spent on weapons maintenance, four to eight hours are dedicated to safety, and six hours at the end of training are used to clean the range to prepare for the next class.

The approximate 130 remaining hours are focused on firearms proficiency and how to learn to fire a gun in various scenarios.

“These are state standards,” said Rallings. “When you look at the firearms portion, it’s comprised of a number of different things.”

According to Rallings, officers spend 8 hours in “Response to Resistance” training to learn how to respond to those resisting arrest, which includes de-escalation.

Another 10 hours is dedicated solely to de-escalation.

That’s roughly 18 hours covering how to de-escalate a situation, compared to roughly 160 hours spent at the Firearms Training Unit.

“We make sure we give adequate training so officers don’t accidentally shoot someone and also, so they understand our Response to Resistance policy,” said Rallings.

In the interview, Dir. Rallings reponded to calls to defund his department by saying less funding would mean fewer officers on the street, resulting in longer response times and more violent crime.

MPD recently received federal funding.

The Investigators will break down that funding on WMC Action News 5 at 10, Thursday.

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