OPELOUSAS — In response to the recent officer-involved shootings, the St. Landry Parish Sheriff's Office is training its deputies on how to make decisions on using lethal force.
The training comes after several officer-involved shootings caught nationwide attention, including here in Acadiana.
Deputies say the training has allowed them to deescalate situations without using force.
Law enforcement officers with the department's patrol division gathered around a table as they studied videos of the officer-involved shootings that happened in Atlanta and Kenosha, Wisconsin.
"From that, hopefully, we can get a mindset from our people to develop some sort of advanced training or give them less lethal options when they get in these encounters to help make better decisions or more practical decisions," said training lieutenant Chris David.
David says their deputies must undergo monthly training, which, according to him, is more frequent than most agencies in the area.
Part of the training is learning deescalation techniques and verbal judo.
"We go above and beyond to try to give our deputies the most training available to us to deal with people every walks of life. That way, we can handle each situation accordingly and appropriately," said David.
Deputy Alex Andrus says he's already been able to use the tools he's learned in training while responding to a call.
"After getting [the suspect] in hand restraints, I was able to properly remove the firearm off of his hip that was concealed," explained Andrus. "I didn't have to withdraw my weapon. I didn't have to pepper spray him. I just talked [to him]."
Andrus says this type of training needs to be done at every law enforcement agency and believes it could be the difference between life and death.
"Wisdom to do our job correctly," said Andrus. "Everybody wants to go back home to their families, and that's just what we're doing. Just trying to, I guess, make it."
Training for the patrol division will continue this week, and training for the remainder of the employees is in the works.