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Reveal: What Cops Aren't Learning

Anna Vignet
In this hour, Reveal teams up with investigative reporters from American Public Media to look at why police spend more time learning to shoot their guns than learning how to avoid firing them.

Some police departments are embracing tactics designed to reduce the use of force – and prevent shootings. Rather than rushing in aggressively, officers back off, wait out people in crisis and use words instead of weapons. It’s a technique called de-escalation.

But this training isn't required in most states. Reveal teams up with APM Reports and finds that most police spend a lot more time training to shoot their guns than learning how to avoid firing them.

APM Reports correspondent Curtis Gilbert visits a Georgia town where police don’t do much de-escalation training – despite the town’s history. In 2015, a man who was behaving oddly and singing hymns in a grocery store was killed 35 seconds after a police officer arrived on scene.

And experts believe it’s no coincidence that so many police shootings happen in so little time. They say if police slow down, it could save lives. In our next segment, Gilbert takes us to Minnesota for a look at how this training works and how some officers say it has helped them avoid using force.

Our final segment introduces us to some law enforcement officials who are opposed to requiring de-escalation training, fearing officers might get hurt if they are trained to hesitate before using force.

Reveal is a weekly radio program produced by The Center for Investigative Reporting and PRX. For more, check out our website and subscribe to our podcast.

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