When Do Cops Decide To Pull The Trigger?

Police procedure on when to pull the trigger

Columbia, SC (WLTX)- Following the recent officer-involved shootings, people in the Midlands are asking what's the procedure officers are taught before pulling the trigger.

Sometimes it's a split-second decision officers have to make in high risk situations. All the training leading up to that moment is what makes the difference, says Donald Rach who is training a group at the South Carolina Law Enforcement Academy.

"The nature of the violation is going to tell us when we can pull the fire arm" says Rach. That varies from case to case, with armed robberies he says they know it's dangerous and they need to be on high alert.

The traffic stop training boils down to three words: ability, opportunity and jeopardy. "They have the ability to hurt us, the opportunity to hurt us and my life is in jeopardy or the life of someone else is in jeopardy" said Rach. 

Their bottom line is to stay one threat level ahead of the suspect. 

Chris Sullivan is a community organizer and says a lot of the young people he meets, specifically African American males, want to be police officers; including him. There's one big thing that stops them, "but as you get older you start to learn about the system you start to learn about the prison system, how we spend more money to incarcerate than to educate and it kind of takes away from that dream" said Sullivan.

His work is to build trust between communities and law enforcement, he wants to make sure those moments before the split second decision to pull a trigger, are well trained. 

"The problem is that we're focusing on the effect and not the cause, to be quite frank the cause is racism" said Sullivan. 


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