After two St. Petersburg police officers were disciplined for applying excessive force in two separate incidents in 2019, St. Petersburg Police Chief Anthony Holloway announced that all 562 officers would be retrained on the proper use of during an arrest [Source: Bay 9 News]. One of the officers that prompted the retraining was recognized for applying unnecessary use of force after a short police pursuit ensued.
Bay News 9 reported that on May 6, 2019, Officer Andrew Viehmann shot a suspect after he led police on a short chase and then ran out of his vehicle. After officers caught up with the suspect, the man allegedly began following officer commands and put his hands up in the air. Officer Viehmann then shot the man with his Taser. The Board determined that the use of force Viehmann applied was unnecessary and the officer was suspended for two weeks without pay.
Apparently, those two incidents were enough to convince Holloway that officers needed to be retrained.
The proper use of force training program, which lasted four-hours, identified new tactics and techniques officers could apply rather than just resorting to striking a suspect. Holloway also completed the training after it had been 20 years since he was trained on the proper use of force. He told the source that a lot has changed over those 20 years.
After completing the training, Holloway suggested that while “the blows are good if the officer’s life’s in danger or if that’s the only thing he has left,” he wants to make sure officers “also have other tools in their toolbox.” Some of the new tactics that officers learned involved them “using their weight rather than their fists or their weapon to get a suspect under control.” The training aimed to not only inform officers of the various ways they can handle a suspect during an arrest, but to also “get out of that old mentality that you have to strike a suspect first.”
Holloway said that “if you can control a suspect first, then go for the control technique first, versus giving that strike. Use of force doesn’t look good no matter how you use it, but when you strike someone, let that be [the] last thing that you have to use.”
Despite the training officers are required to go through, there are still plenty who apply excessive force. If you are a victim of police excessive force and need help recognizing a Largo, FL officer for their misconduct, contact Trevena, Pontrello & Associates at 727-581-5813 to speak with a Largo, FL police brutality lawyer.