Mayor Teresa Tomlinson breaks down officer use of force protocol - WTVM.com-Columbus, GA News Weather & Sports

Mayor Teresa Tomlinson breaks down officer use of force protocol

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COLUMBUS, GA (WTVM) - As situations surrounding some officer-involved shootings continue to frustrate and anger many across the country, Columbus officials say strict protocol is in place to prevent uncalled for use of force.

In recent weeks people have gathered right outside the Government Center, and at other places around town. Now, Columbus Mayor Teresa Tomlinson is hoping to clarify what's fact and fiction when it comes to local police officers.

"A lot of the citizens, their concern, their frustrations, often times relate to things they're not aware of that we already do," said Tomlinson.

Tomlinson explains how Columbus police officers must go through sensitivity training, psychological analysis, and more before they are ever given a badge or gun.

"We have a good deal number of vacancies at the Columbus Police Department. We have plenty of applications to fill those vacancies, but we will not hire just anybody," said Tomlinson

This hiring process also includes a background check, and sweep of social media, looking for red flags like discriminatory comments. After clearing those safeguards, officers are trained on how to deal with a variety of people; from those with mental illnesses, to those with drastically different cultures.

"There are cultures, eastern Indian culture for instance, that you need to be very careful how you touch the female if it's a man and a woman in a car and a stop is made. You need to be very careful. The cultural differences are stark and you can cause great offense that might escalate a situation if you don't know these customs," said Tomlinson.

When out in the field, Tomlinson says officers can't unreasonably leap over steps in what's called the use of force continuum. First, officers can use strong language to shock, then closed hands, pepper spray, a baton, taser, and finally a gun or deadly force- in that order.

"We do a lot of the things that it appears from the nation's conversation that a lot of police departments are just beginning to think about," said Tomlinson.

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